It’s Resurrection Week and church leaders all over the world are headlong into a massive ministry week. Most dream of capacity crowds and are focused on either filling their buildings or a specific numerical goal. While this is reasonable and usually honorable, the focus on “counting” can become deadly.
Allow me to explain.
God cares about numbers, so much so that He wrote an entire Book in the Bible called “Numbers”! But there are serious considerations in the Bible when leaders focus on numbers – when they should be focusing on obedience.
King David counted his military troops in I Samuel 24. This wasn’t the first time the troops had been counted, but this time was different. God was angry with Israel and some versions of the Bible says He incited David to count the men. F. LaGard Smith says that the problem may have been with David’s motivation for counting. “Selfish ambition for aggressive expansionism” is a possibility. Regardless of the motivation, God was not pleased and Israel paid a heavy price.
Listen, God is not against us counting our influence and impact. We are expected to know how many people attend our services and it is an important part of fulfilling our Mission. But God is against us trying to make a name for ourselves, competing with other ministries, manipulating God’s work to advance our reputation, or simply trying to make ourselves look good.
Thankfully, we are now under grace and God rarely acts in such harsh ways (at least perceived as harsh) when He punishes us. But this makes us wonder if we are being punished nonetheless.
This Easter, let’s keep track of numbers for the right reasons. We want to make progress; we must bear fruit. But let’s not fall prey to trying to impress anyone – except God.