As long as I can remember, I’ve loved numbers (and I’m not talking about the television show – although I enjoy that too). I don’t remember when my love of numbers started, but I must have been rather young. I was a Math geek in school. I won medals for math competitions. I took Calculus my senior year just for fun, even though I had enough Math credits to graduate. I enjoy balancing our checkbook. When I was delivering each of my children, my “focal point” was running through multiplication tables in my head. When I’m out walking by myself, I often count my steps and use those numbers to calculate how many steps it takes to go an average block (it would be even more fun if I knew how fast I was walking). I love shopping for things on clearance because I love doing the math to figure out how much I saved and what percentage it adds up to. My name is Rebekah and I’m addicted to numbers.
For a few years, I’ve really hated that “How many does your church run?” question from fellow pastors and their wives. We’re a small church and it was a number that I didn’t particularly enjoy sharing – especially since that number would double if we could get every person to church on the same Sunday. I came to a point where I thought that numbers didn’t have a place in the church. “The spiritual growth is so much more important.” I often found myself defending our small numbers.
However, last week the numbers HIT me – and hit me hard. I was thinking about the number of people in our church. We have about 40 that come regularly and can push 50 on a good Sunday. There are 5 churches in our small town and all average about that amount, maybe slightly more. So, about 300 people attend church here in town. I figure I can double that number (which is being generous) to include people who drive to Sullivan or Decatur or other surrounding towns for church. So, 600 people attend church somewhere. On the other hand, I could subtract numbers as well since I know that a good number of our people actually drive from out of town to come to our church, but I’ll leave the number at 600.
We live in a town of 1300. It’s a small town, actually a village technically. But if only 600 people are attending church, that means that 700 people in town do not go to church ANYWHERE!!! 700 people who don’t know Jesus. 700 people who if they were to die today, they would very probably end up in Hell. And that’s just in our miniscule part of the world. Run the numbers for your town – where do they land? If that doesn’t step on your toes, I don’t know what will!
I think churches have become entirely too focused on the wrong set of numbers. We’re so caught up on who we are reaching that we forget about all of those out there who we still need to reach. Churches have become so inward focused (something we are working hard to change in our own church and our people are really grabbing onto that) that they forget to reach out. Bible studies and Sunday night services are great things for believers. It’s a chance to grow and an opportunity to equip the saints. However, if we aren’t giving those believers that we’ve equipped an opportunity to go out and actually put into practice, to be do-ers of the Word instead of just hear-ers – aren’t we really falling down on the job? And as a Christian, if we’re just sitting there soaking it all up and not out there, actively sharing our faith with those who might not know about Christ and His love and all the benefits of serving a loving, caring God who wants nothing more than for His children to freely accept His love, are we anything more than a pew warmer?
I’m feeling a DESPERATE need to get out there myself and also to tell other believers to get off their rears and share the GOOD NEWS and what God has done in their lives with their friends, their neighbors, and even complete strangers. There is a BIG number out there of people who need to know Jesus. What are you going to do about it?