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I spent most of my adult life reaching for the “Brass Ring.” For those of you too young to have any idea what that means, it was an invention in the early 1900’s as a feature of carousels in county fairs. A dispenser would be placed at arm’s length high up near the operator and loaded with a dozen lead rings and one brass one. Riders on the outside ring of horses on the carousel would “REACH” for the ring as they passed the dispenser, hoping to grab the brass one to win a free ride.

The brass ring is success.

That was me. Reaching for success — defined as earning more, owning more, buying more, going more, seeing more, or some other more, more, more — that our culture told me was the right thing to pursue.

Later in life, I learned that success alone isn’t enough. My success wasn’t SIGNIFICANT. It felt good but didn’t produce many results that mattered long term. Success was a fleeting desire of the month that was quickly replaced by another desire soon after reaching it.

If we’re not very aware of this concept, we are in danger of reaching for success for what we THINK are the right reasons but are alone not significant. Here are a few measures of our success at LifePark:

  • Average 1,400 people every Sunday.
  • 68% of adults are in LifeGroups.
  • More than half of adults serve in a ministry.
  • We’re building a new building.
  • We’re expanding our NextGen spaces.
  • We’re hiring lots of new people.
  • It requires 209 volunteers every Sunday to operate LifePark.

There is nothing bad about any of these accomplishments. They are all excellent. We are a thriving, healthy, growing church. But instead of looking at just our success factors, let’s also consider a few of our significance factors:

  • 850 people in LifeGroups engage together in more than 90 Biblical studies every year.
  • 800 believers were baptized in nine years.
  • Christ’s head, heart, hands, and habits are demonstrated daily in schools and the community.
  • LP staff members share Christ every day through relationships and spiritual gifts.
  • Facilities are at capacity because people have discovered Christ’s relevance in their lives at LP.

As a business professor, my success is measured by the number of students who pass. My significance is measured by how my students are engaged, what they have learned, and how they apply knowledge and skills they have learned in my classroom to their lives outside of college in their real world.

At LifePark, it’s not much different. We have a church instead of a classroom, and we measure success and significance differently. We know with confidence that worldly success is not enough. Our success is defined not by what we do, but what’s been done for us . In Christ, we are accepted, secure and significant both today and forever.

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