Let’s talk about the Numbers Game

In today’s culture, everyone has the mindset that bigger is better. The more the merrier. Newer, faster, bigger. It’s all about the numbers. But where do numbers fit into the church? Is a church that has 5,000 people a better church than a church of 500? Or a church of 50? Are numbers the sign of success? Of spiritual excellence? Of a flashier, more energetic style of worship? How important are the numbers?

It seems that no matter where it is, EVEN in the church, we are so caught up with numbers. Did you see how many people were there last night!?” “We must do things to get more people here.” “Where is everyone tonight?” There is nothing wrong with these questions in and of themselves, but if they are a reflection of a numbers-oriented mindset, thats when i get nervous. This is totally not directed at any church, any ministry, or any person….this is an open thought process of churches across the nation (maybe even the world). When we get so focused on numbers, the people we minister to become just that…NUMBERS.

I am a big fan of Doug Fields’ philosophy when he says “Bigger isn’t better; healthier is better!” In my opinion, if we had a church of 50 solid, rooted people who were in genuine, authentic community THAT would be a successful church.

I’m not saying that having a huge church or a huge ministry is wrong, but whats the point of having thousands if they aren’t growing? If they aren’t being discipled, if they aren’t forming strong relationships with mentors or peers, if they aren’t being challenged, if they arent taking the next steps and experiencing life change….then what the heck is the point? Numbers only satisfy a human ego. Life change satisfies the heart of God. And thats what we should be pursuing.

If we are celebrating life change, if we are worshiping the God of the universe simply to glorify Him, if we are letting our actions reflect His truth in our every day lives, then people will start to wonder WHO or what is causing this change. And THAT’S when people will become brave enough to step inside the daunting walls of the church because they will be so hungry for that same thing in their own lives. And thats how a healthy church should grow.

And those are just my thoughts. So maybe i’m completely off my rocker, maybe i have a skewed philosophy, maybe i should care more about the numbers. if im wrong, please correct me. if i’m right, then where do you suggest we start in fighting the numbers game?

Your thoughts? 

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5 thoughts on “Let’s talk about the Numbers Game

  1. Stumbled across your site via Matt Adams… cool post. This appears to be the topic at hand these days. Ever time I think that I am drawing some conclusions, I come across something else. I by no means have the answer, but it is fun to see what others think.

  2. I would agree that healthier is better, but at the same time each number is a person and each person is a child of God.

    So not that you are not reaching people, but you have to be about numbers because numbers are people.

    It was an interesting revelation that i was taught recently.

    Just another perspective.

  3. i truly believe it all comes down to health. 50 or 50000, if the people in the church aren’t healthy followers of Christ, building other Christians up, serving together, living life with one another and growing in a deeper understanding of Christ — what’s the point? so, for the leadership of these churches, i suppose it comes down to the motive behind their desire for numbers. to be the biggest church of lukewarm Christians? or the to be the biggest church of on-fire Christians creating other disciples?

  4. I was trying how to word what I wanted to say, but Crystal I think you did it for me. I would say the importance should be on the health of the church not the numbers. So you have a large number, but if they are not healthy spiritually how are you going to get the maximum service because usually lukewarm folks are not the ones to serve in ministry.

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