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At Northstar we count stuff! And the reason numbers matter so much to us is numbers are an indicator of whether not we are helping people take steps towards Jesus. And of course Jesus is what it’s all about.
Counting steps people make in following Jesus is Biblical. In Act 2 it says that after Peter’s sermon 3000 people were saved and baptized do you know why we know there were 3000? Somebody counted.
Personally I think they checked a box on the back of their papyrus based connection card that the disciples handed out after Peter’s sermon.
If you’re a leaders number’s are extremely important. If you’re a small group leader you should count how many people show up to your group so you can follow up with those that don’t. If we count how many people got saved or baptized and it was less than the previous year we need to prayerfully investigate why that was. Numbers empower us to know if our faithfulness is resulting in fruitfulness. Because both matter to God.
Numbers can empower a leader but numbers can also destroy a leader.
In 2 Samuel 24:10 it says:
Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
Why was it a great celebration when they counted the 3000 people that got saved from Peter’s sermon and it was a great sin when David counted the people of Israel? The difference was why they counted. In David’s time the strength and significance of a nation was determined by how many people were in the nation. David counted the people so he could feel significant. He had a lot of people so he felt secure. When David found his significance and security in the numbers instead of God he became proud and God hates and resists proud.
This is why some people get nervous when they hear church leaders talk about numbers. If I preach and lots of people get saved and I feel good about myself because of it or nobody gets saved and I feel bad about myself because of it then I’m trusting in, finding my joy in something other than God and God has promised to resist my pride.
If you are a leader you need to count what matters. If you’re a group leader and your attendance begins to wane. You should know, because you’re counting. And you should consider if there is something you should do differently. But you should never find your significance or your security in the numbers; in the results of what you do.