The Tyranny of Numbers

Whether you like it or not, when pastors meet other pastors and talk about their churches, one of the first questions is: “how many members does your church have?” This also happens with members of one church when they get together with members from another church. Numbers are always part of the conversation. How many members, the attendance, the budget, the youth program, etc.

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We live in a time when ministry is dictated by the three B’s: Buildings, Bucks, and Butts. We are led to think that to be successful we need a pompous building, a lot of money, and many people sitting on the pew. Without these you cannot be considered a good leader or a good church. This is a tyranny that is trying to control everyone in the ministry and inside the churches.

This explains why many people leave small churches to go to a bigger one. They are looking for good programs, comfort, and big crowds. A small church cannot satisfy their needs. Sometimes they are also looking for anonymity so they would not have the pressure  to get involved or participate. They come, watch the service, and go home. Do not get me wrong, I would love to have a big and new building with a large budget, and many people attending our programs and activities. But the danger here is to do everything just for the purpose of attracting large numbers.

This tyranny is blurring our vision – Some churches and pastors have lost their sense of purpose. Their vision is totally compromised because of the desire of higher numbers. The programs are not based on the vision for that community or that particular church, but they are designed just to attract more people.

This tyranny is shifting our priorities – What the church should do or is called to do is not important anymore. The numbers are. This shift in the priorities is making churches revise their ministries. Now the important thing is what works and brings people to the building and programs, rather than reaching out to the community with the message and love of God.

This tyranny is pulverizing our mission – To get the numbers we are moving from the simplicity of the Christian mission to an array of activities to achieve the desired numbers. Churches are doing a little bit of everything to increase their attendance and budget. Unfortunately some of those activities have nothing to do with outreach or witnessing. They are merely intended just to bring people in the door. We cannot forget that every church is planted in specific areas with a specific mission to reach to that community with the Gospel and Love of God. Whether churches get a good response or not, they must keep doing what they are called to do.

If you migrated to a larger church for one of these reasons, I would like to challenge you to find a small church located in a community that needs to know that God loves its people and has a plan for their lives.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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