It's All About The Numbers
Recently, we were researching statistics from a particular denomination, when we noticed something startling. Over the course of one year we saw some disturbing numbers spanning different categories such as Worship attendance, salvations/conversions, new members and baptisms. We noticed a trend of zeros year after year. Over the course of one year many of the churches that we examined, recorded zeros in baptisms and conversions. Even more disheartening was the fact that this was a pattern for several years. Which raised the question, WHAT ARE THESE CHURCHES DOING? Yes that was in all caps for a reason. I will have to admit the Holy, righteous anger stirred in my soul. I’m sure there were excuses and explanations for these zeros. But then again you are telling me that no life change was happening in these churches. One could conclude that some of these churches had become so inwardly-focused that they didn’t really concern themselves with people outside the four walls. I would say to them, show me a church that is inwardly-focused and I will show you a church that is dying. We are seeing so many churches that are on life support, but that is another blog post for another day.
As we dug deeper into these cases, we realized something else that was revealing. Many of these churches have had the same pastor for many years. You can draw a line from the lack of multiplication to the pastor. Now I want to interject that we aren’t blaming pastors for these findings, but some of the responsibility has to fall on their shoulders. It is a pastor’s job to equip the congregation for service, discipleship, evangelism, etc. It is not the pastor’s job to grow the church, but he has a tremendous responsibility and should be held accountable for years of zeros. The congregation should also feel the weight and burden of this travesty. We are called to tell others about Jesus and disciple.
You might say, well numbers don’t tell the whole story. We would agree to an extent, but it is a good barometer of a bigger issue. When numbers become the bottom line something valuable is lost. However, numbers are important and significant. Every number represents a life that is transformed by God. Each life matters to Him. If it didn’t matter He wouldn’t have sent His Son to die a brutal death to insure our salvation. If they matter to Him, they should matter to us as well. When was the last time you personally led someone to Christ? If it's been years, it might be time to reevaluate some things. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to "seek and save" the lost. That should be our mission, too. The only way our churches are going to get fired up about personal evangelism, is if we are fired up about personal evangelism!
Here is the hypothetical question we need to ask ourselves: What if my job was tied to the numbers? Would I still have one next year? Let’s be honest, if we worked in any other industry and made no sales, we wouldn’t have a job. Once again, I am not suggesting anyone lose their job. I am simply encouraging each pastor to have a sense of urgency to re-evaluate what you are doing. If you continue to see zeros year after year, I want to assure you that whatever you are doing is not working. You might pushback and say, “But I am shepherding the saints.” That’s great and that might be what you are called to do, but that is not the task of the shepherd. We are called to leave the 99 and go after the one.
Could you imagine if we lived in that world. We would have one of two things happening at the end of the year. Pastors across the country looking for a place to work or we would see a renewal of passion and an unstoppable sense of urgency. The latter would be ideal. So the question is why don’t we have that in the first place? Have we lost what we once had when we were called into ministry? Why have we lost it? Maybe you don’t even know what your why is anymore. Do you even care that there are lost people in your community, is the burden gone?
Maybe you have become comfortable with your life and your salary. Perhaps you have settled into contentment and are not feeling it anymore. I get it, ministry is hard and we all hit seasons that put us into burnout and ministry coma. But there has to be more than a decent salary, if you are staying in your current position for that reason, it’s the wrong reason. It’s time to ask God what’s next or ask Him to renew your passion for lost people. When that happens, you will see those zeros go away and the numbers work themselves out. If you are healthy as a leader, you will see your church become healthy and remember healthy things naturally grow.
If you need help getting back on track, The Ministry Mechanics would love to help you. Our charge is to Build the Church and Equip the Leaders. You don’t have to be on a island, we are there to walk alongside you to help you achieve the vision that God has given you or help you discover it once again. Don’t settle for mediocrity when God desires so much more.