Monday, July 2, 2012

The Problem with Numbers

I get really nervous when people start throwing around numbers.

“Our attendance was 602 last Sunday!”

“We baptized 17 people tonight!”

“We have had 296 salvation responses this weekend!”

So often, we can appeal to numbers as the measurement of success.  Sure, numbers can be one of the ingredients of success, although I am not sure we should use it as the sine qua non of success. Most Evangelicals, and probably even most non-Evangelicals, would disagree with the core tenets of Joel Osteen Ministries, and yet, he has the largest church in America.

43,000 people.

More people come to Osteen’s church than live in Wylie, Texas.

Obviously Osteen is doing something right.

But how do we define “right?”

Is it his toothy-grin, or his mullet, or his feel-good prosperity gospel?

I am not sure; however, I am sure that we should not be comfortable using numbers to measure the success of our “gospel-saturated, Christ-centered, missionally-driven” churches, if we are not, at the same time, willing to give Osteen that same opportunity.

So, maybe next time you want to use numbers as a measurement of success for your church or ministry…don’t.

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