It was not uncommon during my years in ministry to be asked how many students were at the college worship service during the week. I’m okay with that question per se, but why is that always the first question, and why are numbers the measuring stick for successful ministry?

We are always looking for some standard or metric to determine ministry success, but why numbers?

It would have been nice to be asked, “Hey, how were the students last night?” Or, “Tell me a story about a student?” Etc.

Eventually (but hopefully not for you) if you are in ministry long enough there will be the push for numbers in ministry, and that will be how your success is often determined. Then begins the vicious cycle. Do whatever you can to maintain and raise numbers, often forgetting what ministry is about, or who we are supposed to be following…Jesus.

And that’s just really sad I think. As my good friend RO Smith has said to me, “If we measure our success in ministry based on Jesus’ ministry, then we have 12 people following us, and one of them is trying to kill us.”

How’s that for success?

That’s why I love the following post.

Anne Jackson is so right on in her post The Competition-Driven Church.

Society today is competitive. We feel that our voices must be the loudest and carry the furthest in order to be heard and validated. It breaks my heart when I hear pastors of small churches say, “we only had seventy-five people today” or “only two hundred people showed up.”

Only? I’m sorry. Are those seventy-five or two hundred people not enough for you?

I am not going go into length discussing the perceived importance of numbers. Keeping track of “how many” is a valid metric to measure some kinds of effectiveness in what we are doing. Numbers do represent people. Christ did say that he would grow his Church.

However, our view is so limited as far as what that actually looks like in our church today.