Do Numbers Matter?

Mar 8, 2006

My man Gary underwent some serious heat for a couple of weeks…so much so that he decided to take away the comments section on his blog. In my opinion this was the right thing to do and I applaud you Gary for doing this…people will post a comment when they would never say it to your face.

However, one of the things that Gary was getting heat about was the fact that he made several references to how his church was growing…and of course he was accused of being all about the numbers.

So I’ve been thinking about numbers and if they really even matter to God, does He even care whether or not the church is growing?

Believe it or not—I have a STRONG opinion on this. :-)

I think numbers do matter to God…we see it early in Scripture—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, NUMBERS…

All throughout the OT there are number references…AND when you get to the NT it seems that even a higher emphasis is placed on numbers. For example, I’ve been reading the Gospel of Mark in my quiet time…and Mark keeps mentioning that “large crowds” were following Jesus, why was he mentioning that? Was Jesus just into numbers?

And then you have Acts chapter two—where 3,000 people repented and were baptized…think about this—SOMEONE had to count all of those people…and the Holy Spirit considered it significant enough to include in Scripture. (That is if you believe the Holy Spirit had anything to do with the Bible…which I do!!!)

And then all throughout the book of Acts Luke tells us of the numbers of people and how the church kept on growing in NUMBERS.

I don’t think anyone who is intellectually honest can say that God isn’t into the church growing…and GOD HELP THE PASTOR or GROUPS of people that do not care about numbers.
Here at NewSpring we understand that numbers represent souls…and souls MATTER to God. There are numbers of people outside these walls that do not know Jesus…and they matter to Him, therefore, they should matter to us. There are numbers of teenagers outside these walls that need to be reached…and they matter to God—therefore—they matter to us. There are numbers of marriages falling apart in our community…and they matter to God; therefore, they should matter to us.

I am grateful for the numbers that have been reached—but I can’t stop thinking about the numbers of people that still need to be reached…that is Gary’s motivation, mine, and many others like us…and somehow I don’t think that God is all ticked at us for wanting to see numbers come to Him.

In fact, I would say this—the church should be growing—healthy things grow—period.

I know, I know—the last time I posted about this I received several e-mails from people who have nothing better to do with their time than to sit around and criticize those who are actually in the game—and they said, “To say that numbers are a sign of success is a ludicrous suggestion. Mr. Noble—the Mormon church has large numbers—would you say that they are being blessed by God.”

That is the most horrendous comparison I have ever seen. Let me explain…if you want to compare NewSpring to a cult then I could essentially turn the same argument around on you and ask those that are not growing…

Let me explain—some churches are not growing…and they are fine with that. They claim that THEY alone are doing ministry the right way…that one man in the entire church is able to meet the needs of everyone who comes…that hours and hours are spent going “deeper” into Scripture—and that everyone who isn’t like them is wrong. Hmm…I watched this special the other night on the Branch Dividian cult…and they were basically saying the same thing—they wanted it small—they wanted to go deeper—and they were very critical of those who were not like them.

Also—what about the dude with the Nike’s who convinced people to hop on the comet that was coming to earth…they kept it small…they thought they were right…

If you are getting offended right now…good! You should never take a work like NewSpring or Saddleback or Willow Creek and compare it to the Mormons…because…

It just might be possible that the Holy Spirit is at work in these places!
It might just be possible that God has called us to do what we are doing!
It might just be possible that real life change is taking place!
It might just be possible that WHAT is going on in these churches is Spirit led…and my brothers and sisters…Jesus was very clear that speaking against the Spirit of God is blasphemy.

Let me also say this…it has come to my attention that some bloggers out there are saying that churches like NewSpring do not allow the Holy Spirit to move. Two problems here - #1, How dare you say that the Holy Spirit is not moving in our church—talk about arrogance. And, #2 - Do you think anyone or anything could actually STOP the Spirit from moving if He wants to move. Scripture is very clear on that sovereingty of God thing!

So to those in the fight—keep doing what you are doing—reaching NUMBERS of people…that is, after all, what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28:18-20. And pay no attention to those who would criticize you for being excited about having a record number of people show up at your church.

NewSpringers—there are numbers of people in the upstate that do not know Christ—and I believe with all my heart that God has raised us up to make an impact for Him…the best is yet to come.