The numbers can be a the hardest part of serving in ministry. We all want more people at Church. We all want more people to be involved in ministry. We all want more people to know Jesus. The problem is numbers can be a big reason people leave serving in ministry. Numbers can be a chock hold on how you serve in ministry because it becomes too much of the focus in ministry and life.
As I have been looking around at those I have seen in ministry the numbers game has been a big reason people leave. They get sick of it. They really miss just being with people. I am someone who looks at numbers in ministry. I track attendance and do look at how many people show up as a measure of successful ministry or events. It can tell you if you have done something with worth. The problem with numbers in ministry is, you can have big numbers and it mean nothing in peoples lives, you can get very little done for events or very few people show up, but you have been a part of changing people’s lives. You see numbers can be important, but people are actually the more important part. In fact they are the most important part. It is hard to quantify. It is hard to make a report that counts all the conversations, all the little comments that really helped someone through their day. A word of grace that you shared in their life that helped them see Jesus.
In ministry I spend time planning all sorts of events. I plan VBS, Sr. High youth group, chili cook-offs, mission trips, a multitude of bible studies, but those are all designed to do something. They are designed to help parents, adult and students have opportunities to share Jesus with each other. They are all designed to help them see Jesus.
So one of my problems with the numbers games is that I can spend 1000s of hours on things, and say we have 10,000 students at Youth events. The problem is that isn’t the right number. The right thing to look at isn’t numbers. The thing I try to ask myself is did I help the student, family, or friend through the parent’s divorce. Did I help the family deal with a student struggling with death of a friend, or parent. Did I sit with a parent as they struggle with their relationship with their child. You see those things aren’t easily quantified. Sometimes I will spend 12 hours over two days helping one person. You might say that wasn’t the best use of my time. I only worked with one person. Sometimes I don’t have the best planned youth event because I ran out of time. The reality is I spent time with a person who needed my time. I got to be a part of Jesus’s ministry in their life.
I am reminded of a great story in the Bible about the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-14). When the boy’s fish and bread are used by Jesus. I like to think of myself as the boy who gets to be involved in Jesus’ ministry. I get to have an impact on peoples lives.
The same applies for your life. It isn’t about numbers in my relationships. It is about the individuals I am ministering with. My goal isn’t how many people can I walk around and share Jesus with, but what few people am I going to invest in so that they know Jesus better. So they experience God’s grace.
The numbers are important, but individual people are more important.