Monday, May 12, 2008

Stories without numbers

I remember reading a book several years ago in my other life about how to free yourself from the seduction of success in vocational ministry. It was no different than most every other person I’ve heard giving advice to guys in midlife pastoral crisis. “Don’t focus on numerical statistics.” “God is more concerned with the inward, not the outward.” “Stay faithful.” And so on…

But despite knowing all the right answers, ask any pastor, any one you choose about how his or her church is doing and you will get the same kind of answer, something along these lines:

“We had over 100 for the first time…”

“We have added 40 new families this year”

“50 people prayed to receive Christ…”

No matter how hard you try, numbers are hard to get away from when communicating anything about the condition of the Church As We Know It.

Is there anything wrong with this? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not sure, but Future Pastor, I would like to issue you a thought to consider. Can you take a different approach?

Next time someone asks you about your church, tell stories without numbers attached. Resist the temptation to define what you do with statistics. Watch how difficult this is to do.

It’s difficult because 99 times out of 100 the person asking the question wants to know how many you have attending. It’s the only point of reference we are accustomed to giving, and the only one we are accustomed to hearing.

1 comment:

Audra said...

Good post.