Each day of our lives we use numbers. We make estimations on projects, tally up totals in sporting events and make sure our favorite fast food restaurant gave us the right number of chicken strips. Numbers are a key part of life, yet the use of numbers in a church setting can cause controversy.
Churches can be apprehensive about using numbers to drive goals for baptisms, attendance and salvations, and for good reason. The number of people coming to a church or responding to a gospel invitation, after all, does not properly evaluate the spiritual health of a community. And reporting numbers tends to give a competitive business vibe that has no place in the sacred efforts of Christ and His Cause. But should Christians avoid numbers? Not at all. Numbers represent people and people are important to God!
Try This! ❯
Crunch a few numbers in your youth group this week and answer this question: If each student present had one gospel conversation per week for the next year, how many people would hear the gospel as a result of your youth ministry’s combined efforts?
Every Christian needs to learn how to count the right way. Numbers are only an issue when you turn your numeric goals into idols and start seeing people as numbers instead of souls. Used correctly, numbers can be a great way to help drive your bold vision forward. That is, incorporating actual hard numbers can help you quantify what your bold vision is trying to accomplish. So here are four reasons why your Gospel Advancing Ministry’s bold vision should include some sort of numerical goals.
1. The early church used numbers
Shortly after the Holy Spirit descended upon the believers during Pentecost, Peter, who was now filled with the Holy Spirit, preached to a crowd of thousands in Jerusalem. Scripture tells us that three thousand were added to the number of believers that day (Acts 2). Someone had to have counted in order to know this detail. Clearly, the early disciples had numbers in mind as they went about the business of responding to Jesus’ call to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We should too.
2. Specific goals provides focus
THE Cause of Christ is really a multiplication effort. Jesus wants us to multiply the message of the gospel. Having numerical goals within your bold vision helps give you a target to aim for and focuses both your prayer and ministry efforts to reach the lost. For example, you may have a vision to engage others in gospel conversations. While that’s a great vision, it lacks the kind of specificity needed to keep you focused. A more specific vision would be to engage X number of people in a gospel conversation in the next year.THE Cause of Christ is really a multiplication effort. Click To Tweet
The first time I set a numerical goal for new conversion growth, which is just a fancy way of saying those who put their faith in Christ, I was hesitant. It felt odd coming up with a number for faith commitments. After all, someone coming to Christ is dependent on his or her own free will. Despite the hesitation, I decided to write the number into my vision. Each day I worked, I continued to think of the number, as it kept me accountable by reminding me and the other leaders to actively pray, purposefully reach the lost and regularly present the gospel. Numbers can help keep you focused and accountable.
3. Doing the math identifies a pathway for gospel advancement
Figuring out what your ministry is capable of becomes clear when you involve numbers and a little bit of math. Say your ministry’s bold vision was to engage in 1,000 gospel conversations, but you only have 20 students. The goal can seem to be outlandish, right? However, using some math you’ll realize it’s possible if every student engages in at least one gospel conversation a week for a year. That’s much more manageable. Using numbers in this way provides a practical step that helps students see they have a critical role to play, too.
4. Growth is encouraging
Achieving numerical goals is very encouraging, and not just for you and your leaders, but for your students as well. Hitting numerical milestones demonstrates that the gospel is exciting and truly contagious. When you reach a goal or get close to one, make sure to communicate it with church leadership, as well. Sharing the forward progress of the ministry will help build even more momentum across the church at large.
Having a bold vision that includes numerical goals challenges us to do more for the kingdom of God. Because at the end of the day, if we aren’t trying to grow by reaching more for Christ, then what are we doing? Petition God through prayer by asking Him how many people He’d like your youth ministry to strive to reach. Then actively work towards those goals by believing in God’s sovereign hand to guide your ministry’s efforts. If you come up short, don’t beat yourself up; rather, rework your vision and strategy and try again.
Let’s count what really counts!