“So the churches were strengthened in faith and grew daily in numbers.” Acts 16:5
Numbers matter. No, they shouldn’t be our primary concern – to pump up attendance at our churches or clients for our Christian businesses (health, depth, cultural influence might be better goals) at just about any cost. However, numbers do matter. By this I simply mean that numbers tell a story, they measure, they weigh, and they should motivate. Those that piously protest that Christian ministry is not about the numbers (especially attendance or $$$) haven’t taken a very in-depth look at the Christian ministry manual lately, otherwise known as the Bible. From the number of animals on the ark to the tribes of Israel… to the number of disciples, apostles, a host of numbers in prophetic literature from Daniel to Revelation and even the very number of hairs on our heads, etc, numbers mean something to God. So, if numbers don’t matter, then somebody better let the One who numbers our very days know that numbers, in fact, don’t matter. I digress. Let’s get to it… What do numbers mean to us as servant leaders? Here is a suggestion and some thoughts for your friendly neighborhood leader lesson today.
I would suggest you gather a team leader, a motivated and informed team, and task them with some divine data mining. You might even go the “extra mile” and hire those with expertise in this area. No doubt there are some in your region or that can be otherwise employed if you are willing to make the investment. “What is data mining?” I’m glad you asked. Simply put, it is the practice of gathering, analyzing and applying knowledge gained from numbers. As you begin, keep it simple:
- Start with the obvious and move to the obscure.
- Begin with basic attendance figures (include info concerning race, socio-economic status, geographical data, etc.) and be as specific as possible.
- Don’t be afraid to employ some old-fashioned strategies for a while such as sign-in, surveys, polls, either on-line or hard copy, etc.
- Use your findings to help develop new strategies or maybe to just get back to basics
- Whatever you do, DON’T IGNORE THE NUMBERS!
Another good question may be, “Why don’t we do this more often?” Probably because, “Ignorance is bliss.” Mind you, no one is being fooled as the numbers continue to slump. However, as long as we can keep from facing reality and especially from asking dreaded questions such as, “Why?” and “Who’s responsible?”… we can all be tempted to continue floating down the “River Denial” or continue blaming anyone or anything else for the tanking stats. This is where the digging gets dirty. But for those willing to get a little down and dirty, the pay-off will be worth it when you hit find a good “vein” or even “hit the mother load!” Remember, some of the most priceless gems are found just another few inches deeper down than others stop digging.
Numbers matter. One of our ministry slogans has always been, “We count people because people count to Christ.” You see, these numbers aren’t just generic stats and faceless figures. They are priceless souls that have been formed and fashioned by our loving Lord and Savior. Nothing pleases Him more than to see the numbers of those on His official roster soar! So, roll up your sleeves and get ready for some serious mining. It will be hard work and, no, you may not like what you dig up at first. However, keep digging, remembering that God is the ultimate number cruncher. Ask for wisdom and seek to learn from every discovery and apply that knowledge in order to see the numbers start heading in the right direction… UP!
Digging with you,