“While we don’t get to determine the talents which God has given us, we do choose how we leverage them for the kingdom.”
Pastors and leaders worldwide have a polarized relationship with the modern megachurch. On the one hand, megachurches are infamous for prepackaging the gospel in order to be seeker-sensitive and relevant. On the other hand, smaller churches long to attract lost souls and have a larger pool of resources. Do the numbers really matter? Once we get past the initial knee jerk response, I believe the honest answer is a resounding YES!
Throughout scripture we see the significance of numbers as a sign of life and growth— why else would there be an entire book of the Bible by that name? God is a numbers God. From the least to the greatest, tribe by tribe, clan by clan, the Lord counts them all. Even as the temple was built, the size and dimensions as well as the amount of gold, silver, fine linen, were all tracked and recorded to the minutest detail.
The disciples knew that 5,000 were fed with a few fish and loaves, which means someone was doing the counting. While Jesus tells us to leave the 99 to go after the one, his point was that each sheep mattered. No one would have argued that the other 99 had no value. In fact, his point was not to settle for 99 when you should have 100!
We run the risk of being double minded when we devalue the size of our membership yet focus on the finances. Often, we worry more about money than lost souls. We may dream great dreams, but waste time in meetings about leaky, old things. Don’t let the budget dictate your faith! God gave you two eyes: keep one on the vision and the other on the numbers. Numbers are a gauge to indicate growth and activity. Whether your budget is currently $100,000 or $1 million, make each penny count! God has called us to be good stewards, but not to be cheap. Faith challenges our generosity. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
This is not to further perpetuate a prosperity gospel. Rather, we are blessed to be a blessing. “Give, and it will be given to you … with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). As we are faithful with little for the kingdom, he will give us more—not for our personal benefit, but to sow back into the community.
Let me clarify with an illustration. In my first year as the senior pastor, we only had about 68 members. I knew God was calling us out of the four walls to reach the community. Our budget was $100. But I was determined to reach as many as possible and let the Lord multiply the harvest. We decided to offer an ice cream truck the money for whatever contents he had. Undeterred by the fact that we had only four volunteers, we reached over 200 kids on a hot summer day. Through simple ice cream cones we shared the Word of God. Soon word spread and some of these families began to attend our church. In the following week, both our team and our budget had doubled for outreach.
While we don’t get to determine the talents which God has given us, we do choose how we leverage them for the kingdom. Whatever your budget, whatever your membership, recognize the kingdom value and potential within your reach. Instead of counting heads, make each head count!