Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Are numbers bad? (originally posted September 15, 2005)

When you are in ministry you are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to share numbers as you look at the effectiveness of your ministry. The truth of the matter is that no matter what direction you choose to go, some will misinterpret your decision. If you never talk about numbers, then people feel you are trying to hide something about your ministry. If you do share numbers, then people automatically jump to judging your motives by saying that all you care about is numbers. So what is a pastor to do? Well, you’ve come to know me enough by now to realize that I have no problem sharing numbers. Why do I do this? Here are several reasons:

  1. I am a “numbers” type guy. In other words, I really enjoy statistics. I could be a statistician for a professional sports team and just love it. I would be thrilled to not just know what the batting average of a particular player is, but to know the difference in his average when he bats left-handed versus when he bats right-handed; when he bats in night games versus when he bats in day games; when he wears a red batting glove versus when he wears a blue batting glove; when he shaves that morning verses when he doesn’t shave that morning. I just love stats!
  2. There is nothing unbiblical about keeping track of numbers. Even Luke recorded specifically in Acts 2:41 the number of people (3,000) that became believers on the Day of Pentecost.
  3. I believe that church growth is a natural result of church health. This is exactly what Rick Warren says in his book, “The Purpose Driven Church.” In Acts 2:42-47 we see that God added growth to the church as the church fulfilled its mission. Warren writes, “In the church’s case, as long as there are lost people in the world we must care about quantity as well as quality…we count people because people count! Those numbers represent people Jesus died for.” Some will say that you can’t measure success by numbers. Warren answers this with these words, “It all depends on what you’re counting. If you’re counting marriages saved, lives transformed, broken people healed, unbelievers becoming worshippers of Jesus, and members being mobilized for ministry and missions, numbers are extremely important. They have eternal significance.” I wholeheartedly agree.
  4. It’s my passion…not numbers….reaching as many people as possible for Jesus! Paul’s words in First Corinthians chapter 9 to, “become all things to all men so that by all means some can be saved,” is more to me than just a verse for a plaque to be hung on a wall. It is the passion that drove Paul and it is the passion that I have asked God to give to me as well as I lead Grace Church. Ever since I was in Junior High School watching Dr. Jerry Falwell on television as I got ready for church, my passion has been to pastor a church and to through that church to reach a whole city for Christ. Numbers aren’t just numbers…they represent people and my desire is for Grace Church to reach as many of them as possible. That is my passion.

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