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  1. I don’t see how numbers of any kind are an indication of the success of a ministry, especially in light of what Jesus said about the church being filled with true believers (wheat) and false believers (tares). There’s no way any pastor could omnisciently look into the hearts of people making professions of faith or being baptized and declare them to be soundly saved followers of Christ. Especially if they have yet to bear any fruit consistent with salvation.
    So why count at all? Just be faithful in carefully dividing the Word and let the Holy Spirit do the counting.

  2. Great article…but it’s idealistic (I mean that nicely…not nasty). I agree with you that to measure one’s worth or value by mere attendance & offerings, you’re simply setting yourself up for hollow victories at best…or much worse at worst.

    I have found however that measuring discipleship is nearly impossible! Like measuring whether someone is filled with the Holy Spirit or not (now there’s an argument). :-)

    Yes we count attendance – Sunday services, kids church, youth ministry, etc.
    Plus we do count offerings – Sunday services, plus building fund & mission projects.
    We also measure the number of small groups we have, how healthy they are and how many new groups we start from them. (Small groups are the most difficult…and require CONSTANT tinkering from the senior minister)
    We also count the number of people serving in the church – this fluctuates – but it’s still a very good measure.
    Plus we count people attending New Members Lunches – those joining the church & catching the overall vision.
    Lastly, we count water baptisms – these are always far below those making decisions in the church.

    Overall, we add all these numbers on one sheet over 3 & 6 month periods…so one doesn’t “slit their wrists” because of one low Sunday (or three).

    Final Note: As Pastors we need to look after ourselves psychologically, as well as spiritually. For me, I have a clear calling from the Lord to pastor the church I’m pastoring – NOT ministry in general. This is VERY important – otherwise pastors will simply shift & change “jobs” when things get too tough or the results aren’t positive as per their unrealistic perception. For all the MANY times I’ve gone to walk out the ministry door for good, I have a mental image of Christ leaning on that doorpost questioning me piercingly, “So I’ve released you from this House of Mine have I?”

    This question ALWAYS turns me…and I am so very thankful for this…THIS is my measure and my motivation!

    • If you can’t express something with numbers, it’s a good indication that you don’t enough about that something. Certain topics are, however, more difficult than others to express in such a way. Virtually anyone would agree that 2 + 2 = 4 (easy). Some would argue with a highway patrol officer as to being stopped for “speeding” – until the officers produces radar pictures showing the driver’s speed was 78 in a 65 zone (the same person may argue with the judge in court, but the numbers don’t argue, they don’t change their mind, they say the same thing to everyone, and they stay the same even though you may have gotten an addition contempt charge in court. The more difficult things to explain with numbers include “I love you”, “It’s too hot in here”, and “Do you smell something?” One could measure causes of these effects rather than just ignore the feelings expressed. I’m concerned that most churches (and Christians) are too apathetic and comfortable. Being challenged with keeping records is perhaps offensive to them. It makes me wonder what kind of records are being kept by God.