Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? -Jeremiah 23:29 (ESV)

Webster Definition for pragmatism:
1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs pragmatism>
2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

I was involved with the Navigators for the past 3.5 years until my recent retirement this past summer. God has blessed the Navigator ministry at Purdue and through that has blessed me as well (and I’m sure all the rest of the bloggers at 5_pointers agree). I’m very thankful for the ministry He has set up at Purdue and, especially, for the leaders He has placed there. It is a true blessing to have a gospel centered and glorifying to God ministry at Purdue. That said this post has nothing to do with the Navigator ministry at Purdue being pragmatic, but one that is in deep contrast.

My first contact with pragmatism occurred a couple different times last year at Nav Rally’s or our large group meetings that are held every Friday. On a couple different occasions people would come up to me and mentioned how much the attendance had dropped since the previous year. After a few minutes of discussion with each, it was quite clear that they were getting at the question of, “what’s wrong with the ministry?”

Both times I was caught aghast, because knowing the solid Foundation of the ministry and the fruit that it produces, left me to ponder their ideology of a successful ministry. It was clear that their mindset was this, if the ministry wasn’t growing and the attendance was dropping something was wrong with the ministry. I’m learning that this is an all too common theme in the postmodern world that we live in and an all too wrong understanding of a successful ministry.

The book of Jeremiah is a gold mine in refuting pragmatism. Through out his whole ministry nations and his own family were at war against him and it had a lack of converts. Also, if you read the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians you see the gospel message producing mixed results. Just because your ministry isn’t growing doesn’t mean there is something wrong.

My question to you is what is a successful ministry?