Success in Preaching is Pleasing God, Not Reaching Large Numbers


Director of The Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry

Do right: when you have done so, the rest lies with God.”
–C. S. Lewis

A young man had just become pastor of a large church. At a reception given him by his people, one of the gossips, a woman with a dangerous tongue, came up and said, “I do not understand how you dared attempt the task of pleasing seven hundred people.” Quick as a flash he replied, “I did not come to this city to please seven hundred people. I have to please only One; and if I please Him, all will be well.” [1] 

Pleasing God and trusting Him with the results—words of wisdom there. Many teachers of God’s Word grow discouraged if their churches or Bible study groups don’t steadily grow into what they think are healthy size gatherings. It can be easy to think, “I must not be called to teach. I’ve been teaching for five years and there are only 75 people attending our gatherings.”  This is a conclusion that many pastors have drawn. But the size of a congregation is not a reliable indicator as to whether or not a person is called by God to teach or not. 

•  Some of the “word of faith” teachers, who espouse all kinds of heresy, have enormous churches

•  The Mormon church is growing by leaps and bounds

•  Jeremiah preached 40 years with apparently only two converts: Baruch, his scribe (Jer. 32:12, 36:1–4, 45:1–5) and Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served the king (38:7–13, 39:15–18)

•  Noah preached (2 Pet. 2:5) for perhaps 120 years (Gen. 6:3) and only a few ended up coming into the ark with him 

Success is not about reaching large numbers. Success in preaching is about faithfulness. Success is about pleasing the Lord. Paul said, “we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (1 Thes. 2:4 NKJV). Elsewhere, he wrote, “we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:9–10).

That should be your ambition in ministry: “to be pleasing to Him.”  Do that and then leave the breadth of your impact (the numbers you reach) up to Him. Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). The growth of the church is His responsibility. You be pleasing to Him.

This short article was excerpted from Charlie's book
Teaching and Preaching God's Word.


CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL (Twitter: @charlieabready)

Charlie Campbell is the Director of the Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry and a popular guest speaker at churches and conferences. He is the author of numerous articles, books, and DVDs, including:

•  Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
•  Evidence for the Existence of God
•  One Minute Answers to Skeptics
•  Archaeological Evidence for the Bible
•  The End Times: Ten Upcoming Events in Bible Prophecy
•  The Case for the Resurrection
•  Teaching and Preaching God's Word

His DVDs and books have been endorsed by Norman Geisler, Charles Colson, Chuck Smith, Ed Hindson, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Jeremy Camp, and many others.

1. Illustrations of Bible Truths, compiled by Ruth Peters, on Quikverse, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 2005, QuickVerse. All rights reserved. 










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