How do you define success?

It sounds like a simple question. However, when you stop and really reflect on it, the answer is much more than a single measurement or metric. This is especially true in evangelism where we so often see people go through long seasons of questions, reflection, and learning before coming to truly know and trust Jesus. Even then, that spiritual journey is just beginning.

I also think it is safe to say that typically God sees success differently than us. He has a perfect eternal perspective and sees the eternal view of each interaction. If you measured the success of Jesus ministry at the cross, you might think it failed. God knew better.

We obviously desire that those we talk with would come to a saving knowledge and personal relationship with Jesus. However, people don’t come in neat and uniform packages that all get measured with a simple profession or agreement.  I recently read something that said as Gospel planters we “faithfully spread the seed” and rest in the sufficiency of that seed to do as the Lord pleases. That is not to say we share the Gospel and walk away but most conversations are planting. They then require watering, care, and cultivation before being ready for the harvest.

This picture reminds me of a beautiful post recently shared between volunteers. The note was shared so all volunteers could see it and be reminded:

Please pray to thank God for Bob who came in for his 105th conversation. He has a history of circular conversations and much confusion…but he came in to tell us that he has placed his trust in Jesus alone for salvation!  He truly is a changed person today. Praise Jesus!!! Thank you to all who have had conversations and planted seeds with him.

Many of those initial conversations might have been seen as unsuccessful in the moment. Some Responders were tested and may have even been discouraged. However, true success is not always in the immediate result but in the faithfulness of the message.  We track the outcome, topics, and nature of each conversation. We also manage to multiple key performance indicators like Responder activity, international reach, and other metrics.

All the data is valuable, but none alone is the definition of success. In order for real life change to occur, Responders must give their time and hearts to meet strangers with the Good News. The ministry also must create an environment of trust so people will share their deepest struggles. We need to meet people where they are, and not where we want them to be, to have meaningful conversations that center on Jesus. When all these elements happen is when we see stories of genuine commitment to Christ with real life transformation.