The Haunting of Ministry Failure

Joshua Wilson | July 6, 2015

When our little church plant closed its doors after five hard years, I remember telling folks it would probably take me a while to get over it. We gave it our all. We never grew, but consistently dwindled. Outreach events reaped no fruit. My wife and I had lost many friends and were spent. I am now a statistic, I thought. I am the percentage they talk about at conferences and church planting workshops. I believe the Spirit prepared me for the church’s demise and gave great comfort as this season in our lives came to an end. However, I was already plagued by a thought that would not be easy to erase: I had failed.

Failure in ministry is generally spoken of in terms of moral failure. We read of the addictions, the affairs, the plagiarism, the misuse of money, and the spiritual abuse in leadership, and we are rightly shaken. However, there are pastors and leaders who commit no moral failure, but perceive that their ministry has failed. This is a different category altogether. What happens when you put your hand to the plow, but the visible outcome of what you do is meager or nonexistent? What does…

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