January 21, 2021

Skye Jethani on “The Daisy Cutter Doctrine” of Ministry

Presented by Chaplain Mike

One of today’s most clear-sighted Christian leaders talks about where our legitimacy in ministry comes from.

Quotes to Remember:

What I call the “Daisy Cutter Doctrine” is a lie that I think a lot of us in ministry have fallen into, which is the belief that the larger the impact of our ministry, the more legitimate we are as ministers of the Gospel.

How different would our ministries be, and our souls be, and our joys be, if we disconnected our legitimacy from the outcomes of our ministry and instead rooted our legitimacy and our identity in the fact that we are sons and daughters of our loving Father?


  1. Rootedness in our unshakeable position as loved children of the Father…..able to withstand the pressures to conform to society and the church society’s expectations through a better understanding of our identity in Christ….

    Chap Mike, WHERE DO YOU FIND THIS STUFF ??? this is (over-used cliche alert) AWESOME !!
    this is better than Narada music and soft surf noises.. thanks Chappie…. this message rocks

    Greg R

  2. To one extent yes I agree. Faithfulness is the result and outcome we should be primarily concerned with. However comparing ourselves to Jesus and his “effectiveness” in ministry is actually worse. He changed all of world history and trained 11 men who were highly “effective” pastors. These men converted thousands. Will my faithfulness produce empire changing results after my death? Hardly.

    Also, to what extent do our results (in human numerical form) indicate our successfulness. If we are terrible pastors, untrained, unskilled, and not called…should we not interpret the physical results as a possible indication that we should seek other positions in the church?

    • I think the sublety is that a casual glance at the numbers just does not tell the tale, necessarily. Could a lack of numerical success mean a lack in training, skill, or calling ? Yes, it could. It could also mean that you are ministering in a difficult area, and you have to put your big boy/girl pants on and deal with it…. It could mean that in THAT ministry situation, big numbers are just not going to happen. All of what Skye said COULD be used as an excuse for any number of thngs, but the truth of what he said still stands: we aren’t called to give an account of results, we are called to give an account of our faithfulness to God’s instructions and leading.

      There is no formula for breaking this down numerically, and determining by metrics, or whiz-bang church growth charts who is doing it right.

      • I agree, Greg. Well put.

      • Agreed; very well put.

        Anything that anyone says can be abused by those who are of a mind to. But as Chaplain Mike said in one of his recent posts on pastoring, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And that’s all Sky is saying.

        Given our modern emphasis on marketing I think many are going to find that the emphasis on numbers is actually counter-productive, and that some of our larger churches are actually contributing to the downfall (collapse? 😉 ) of evangelicalism.

        • David Cornwell says

          Exactly, marketing and the corporate mentality that in many ways has captured the church and attempts to sell Jesus like a commodity with many benefits. And maybe a “bubble” has been created that will collapse.

    • The question is not how ultimately effective our ministry is, but our obsession with tangible results NOW. By human standards Jesus was a failure.

      • I don’t have a problem agreeing with that, I just feel that more attention should be paid to a middle ground approach. If we are to take Jesus as a serious model of ministry then we have to at least acknowledge his effectiveness in training disciples who themselves were effective at making disciples. If we claim to be faithful and yet no disciples are made, I don’t think we should place that responsibility squarely with God or the community all the time. We have to take seriously that our failure to see change may be in fact our failure. Obviously there is the unhealthy approach that obsesses about numbers and marketing but I really think the parable of the talents comes into play here. No results other than protecting what you have is failure. I again reiterate that I do not agree with a “numbers at all cost” approach, but no growth should be a sign post.

        • My only question is, how much do you want from an 8 minute presentation?

          Yes, if this had been a 45 minute talk I’d expect more detail. I thought it was great, though, given the timeframe.

          • My point is not solely about this one particular video, its about the entire argument. We seem to only hear from either the purpose driven crowd or the faithful chaplain model. I find it difficult to believe that in such a heated debate, there are virtually no concessions being made to the legitimacy of the concerns expressed on both sides. Since we are in the iMonk community, the side most argued for is the traditional model therefore I chose to point out what I consider are legitimate concerns that the purpose driven (ceo-centric) model addresses. In actuality I’m taking up the cause of the fair argument because I’d hate for this topic on this blog just to become an echo chamber.

        • Brendan, I think the way you framed your response shows that you are in actual agreement with Jethani. If you describe “success” as “making disciples,” then you are measuring by a different ruler than the folks he is talking about. I don’t think making a few disciples and training a few men would be described as “large impact” by them. Not much “wow” in that.

          But I agree. Show me a pastor who finds his personal identity in God’s grace in Jesus, and who is willing to: (1) live and minister in an obscure location, (2) forgo the normal comforts of family life and society that others expect to enjoy, (3) train a few people to follow Jesus, (4) never have nice facilities or a pile of resources, (5) never write a book, (6) be content with visiting needy people in their homes and in the community who will never become big supporters or contribute in significant ways to the ministry, (7) and entrust the future of his entire ministry to people who have proven only that they are weak and unreliable under stress, and I will be more than happy to call that man a success.

  3. The same principle applies to the flock. Abiding in Christ is the “one thing” for all of us.

  4. Great stuff. Loved this quote:
    “How different would our ministries be, and our souls be, and our joys be, if we disconnected our legitimacy from the outcomes of our ministry and instead rooted our legitimacy and our identity in the fact that we are sons and daughters of our loving Father?”

    Ministry can be as simple as giving a cup of water to the thirsty.

    That quote also made me reflect on the early church and its ministers. It’s hard to imagine Peter and Paul worrying about church numbers. I could argue that for them, ministry seemed to about two things:
    -Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ
    -Church “health”

    • Hold it. If Peter and Paul didn’t care about the numbers, why are we told how many were converted on Pentecost?

      • Kozak, I’ve been thinking about that, because so many point to it as an indicator that God cares about church growth in numerical terms. However, the more I’ve considered it, I’ve been led to ask, “OK, this is recorded on Pentecost, a very special day marking the coming of the Spirit, the birth of the church, and an entire new era in God’s salvation-history—but how many other times in the NT is this emphasized?” I don’t know of any.

      • FollowerOfHim says


        Excellent question. I like to think that Peter and Paul themselves didn’t care to count sheep, so to speak, but that it was simply the redactor of Acts (Luke) who did.

        Jesus fed the five thousand too, but the Gospel writers (all of them) are the ones who made a big deal about the precise number, rather than Jesus himself.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Along with the other comments made, Kozak, I might offer that I don’t believe any of Paul or Peter’s letters say anything about “here’s how you can grow the church, follow this plan, and your doors will burst.” Numbers may be mentioned a few times throughout the New Testament (the examples already provided), but the Gospels and supporting letters seem to be primarily about a ministry that’s not concerned with numbers. Jesus may have had crowds following Him everywhere he went, but He is often shown taking time away from those crowds just to touch one person.

  5. “What I call the “Daisy Cutter Doctrine” is a lie that I think a lot of us in ministry have fallen into, which is the belief that the larger the impact of our ministry, the more legitimate we are as ministers of the Gospel.”

    The Daisy Cutter Doctrine, also known as the Gospel of Immediate Self-Gratification. This doesn’t mean that God will not make his servants known, but it does mean that the metrics we use to determine Kingdom successes are often inaccurate. Just consider Paul’s lament to Timothy (near the end of his life no less!) about all the people who had abandoned him under the threat of persecution. But God preserved Paul’s testimony and his impacts have been felt long after he passed into glory. On the other hand, consider all the fads that have had thousands all worked up over the centuries that most Christians have never even heard of today. Praise be to God for his timing and wisdom, and for a standard of true greatness that isn’t measured by head counts.


  6. that was the best 9 mins I’ve spent today. I feel like this teaching is worth sharing with every and anyone who seeks to do the will of the Father. Before anything else, we are sons and daughters of the Most High God. Thank you for sharing this insight.

  7. This is lovely. Thank you for posting this.

  8. Daisy cutter! Love the imagery! When you’re the hammer, all the world looks like a nail. When your a daisy cutter, all the world looks like Tora Bora.

    Church history gets ugly when the church gets big. Paying bills becomes more important than ministry. Shepherding quickly turns into fleecing and butchering. Both the means and the end are left unjustified. All that is left appears to be the self-gratification, hubris and narcissism of the false shepherds.

Speak Your Mind