It’s a lesson every pastor should learn early in ministry … don’t get sucked into the numbers trap. As a pastor, it’s easy (even tempting) to measure ministry effectiveness by the numbers: attendance, giving, percentages of involvement, etc. We feel good when the numbers are up and begin to question our sanity when the numbers go down.
Perhaps it’s because numbers are ever-present and even unavoidable. We live in a numbers-driven society … the stock market, gas prices, speed limits. Baseball managers are hired and fired based upon winning percentages. Politicians are elected by counting ballots. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries … the numbers of years we’ve lived or been married.
When it comes to church life, numbers can drive you crazy. LifePoint had our highest attendance average in October; November has been about 25% lower. At the same time, our weekly offerings have been greater in November than in October. Try to figure that one out!
We had a LifePoint Cafe tonight featuring two really good artists and yet we had a low turnout. Even though the quality of music was outstanding it was hard to shake the disappointment of low numbers. That’s what numbers can do to you — take a good event and taint it.
How do we overcome the numbers trap? I’m not sure … it might be a part of the human condition, or at least our western expression of it. At a deeper level, we need to draw our affirmation from the steady love of God rather than the fickle nature of numbers.
Stay tuned … I’ll let you know how I’m doing 🙂