Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I’m starting to hate numbers. Much of my life involves numbers. Money spent. My seminary GPA. My job. My gas tank.

I’m also sick of hearing justification in the church for counting people because there were places in the Bible where it records a number of people who were there as if they did it to validate that God was working there. I’ve heard numerous pastors imply that the numbers are recorded in the Bible as some sort of subliminal message to the reader that he or she should count. Like I guess we should count the number of people that attend the parties they throw or the funerals they go to.

Don’t get me wrong, I mean I rejoice when the Bible says thousands decided to follow Jesus. I just don’t rejoice less when 12 decide to. I don’t think God was more at work on Pentecost than when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well one on one. I believe it’s cool when lots of people show up and I even counted the number of students the local high schools around me to give me a handle on the task at hand. (There are 26,000 high school kids in the 15+ high schools around my church in case you were wondering.) I guess I’m okay with using numbers, but sometimes I feel judged by them.

Our numbers fell in our high school weekend attendance every Sunday from May 7 through April 4 until they reached an all time low for the 14 months I’ve been here. I felt like a failure for weeks. Then last weekend they doubled. It’s stupid. Numbers drive me crazy. When I let them determine my peace, they are less predictable than an earthquake.

How many students were there? How much money did you make last year? How many minutes a day did you spend with your kids or reading your Bible or whatever?

The other day I heard a podcast from a pastor who was recommending we embrace the mysterious nature of God working and the fact that for most of God’s efforts, the results are not numerically measurable. Like, how many people did you love today or how much spiritual growth occurred inside of you today. He said the things we should count are the things that indicate how many people are making growth or change decisions in life- cuz that’s the goal. Helping people change their lives from self-oriented to God-loving and others-serving lives. Like people who follow the Lord’s call to be baptized or people who renew to be an active lover of people in a small group or… stuff like that.

Someday when I get to heaven, I’m not counting anything- I hope that’s the joy of eternity. Everything there counts but no one actually uses numbers to prove it.

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