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A friend asked me about the church where he had just been invited to candidate. "I don't want to get stuck in a maintenance ministry," he said.

I cringed, as I had when hearing similar remarks on other occasions.

At seminary, I overheard student pastors complain that the churches they served offered nothing but "maintenance ministry." They meant the congregation was composed primarily of elderly people and showed little potential for numerical growth. Ministry there seemed to mean perpetuating the status quo, marrying and (mostly) burying. Pastors marked time until something better came along.

Later I heard a denominational executive entice pastors to consider church planting by offering them "more than mediocrity and maintenance." He implied that pastors face two options: significance or maintenance.

Yet maintenance, by definition, is "upkeep, support." To maintain means "to keep in a certain condition or position, especially of efficiency and good repair." That sounds good to me.

In most ...

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