Monday, October 11, 2004

What defines "successful" placement?

I've been considering the idea of "successful" placement for some time. How do you define it? Would you know it if you saw it? Perhaps part of the difficulty in finding successful placement is that you may not recognize it if you saw it.

I think I've arrived at a fair definition, at least on a theoretical level: there are three marks of successful placement-- a good "fit" (that is, utilization of giftedness); a ministry that replicates itself; and long-term (or maybe better, full-term) ministry.

The good fit part is obvious; if you are not suited for the position, why would you accept it? I'm often surprised, and you would be, too, I think-- many accept positions that are not a good fit. Still, if you are going to set your sights on successful placement, you've got to have a good utilization of your giftedness.

Self-replicating ministry is an idea that is often obscured by our sense of "productivity" in ministry. Making disciples isn't simply about growing the church through quantitative conversion growth. It is about training others for ministry. This includes seeing others from your ministry become pastors themselves, but it is not limited to that; it may simply be that the Ruling Elders you work with are active and well-equipped because you have replicated your ministry in them.

Long-term or full-term ministry is probably the most difficult achievement in the schema of successful placement. I don't simply mean that successful placement is defined by how long a pastor remains at a single church, although it does seem that longevity of ministry often indicates successful placement. What I mean is that, when you are successfully placed, you are not inhibited by other factors from completing the work that the Lord puts before you. This may lead to a 25-year ministry at the same church, or it may be just two or three years, depending on the calling you have. (A church planter, for example, may complete the work before him in just three or four years; if the planted church thrives and is healthy, could we say that he was not successfully placed because of the relative brevity of his ministry?)

I'm in no way 100% committed to this definition. I would love interaction or feedback about it.

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