There’s a quaint saying in churches, especially smaller churches. We like to say, “It’s not all about the numbers.” It sounds spiritual doesn’t it? Numbers are cold and dead. We are about the souls, warm and living. We don’t care about putting notches in our belts. We want spiritual growth, not necessarily numerical growth. But here’s the problem: the Bible uses numbers to tell God’s story. It uses numbers to tell of the spiritual growth of the church.
If we go to Acts, we see first: “While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise,” (Acts 1:4, HCSB). Who is the them? Verse 2 tells us it was the apostles whom He had chosen (minus 1 of course). That’s 11 of them. In fact, these apostles are named in verse 13, and then more are added to the 11 when it says that the women, Mary, and Jesus’ brothers were with them. Obviously Luke was keeping track of numbers.
The Bible uses numbers to tell God’s story. It uses numbers to tell of the spiritual growth of the church.
Within the 10 days of Jesus’ ascending and the descending of the Holy Spirit, the apostles picked another apostle to join them. The number who were with them at this point was 120 people (that’s a number)! When the Spirit came and the tongues were preaching the word, we find out at the end of chapter 2: “So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them,” (Acts 2:41, HCSB). More numbers! But it gets worse!!! At the beginning of chapter 4 we see, “But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about 5,000,” (v. 4, HCSB). What’s with all the numbers? How could Luke write something so unspiritual?
Of course, by this time, the church in Jerusalem was growing exponentially, and the numbers drop off of Luke’s radar. But what it would seem Luke was doing was showing how the church was growing. In fact, he even said such in chapter 2. The new Christians were “praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved,” (v. 47, HCSB). The health of the church (praising God and having favor with all the people) seems to be linked to the salvations that were happening. In other words, spiritual growth produces numerical growth.
I know this is not a hard and fast rule. I have heard of matured Christians going to be missionaries and seeing no success. But that is the exception that proves the rule. We ought to be surprised when God doesn’t bless the matured believer with fruit. We should be scratching our heads and bowing our knees and asking God for fruit, for the salvation of souls and the growth of the mission church.
I am encouraged by our church’s numerical growth. To go from 21 as a low in 2013 to nearly double that in 2016 is a praise! It confirms that God is doing something within this body. It confirms that spiritual growth is happening (we are not the gimmicky type). What visitors often see is that Highland View is a small church. Some don’t mind, most do. What they do not see is that Highland View is a growing church and a growing church (that grows for the right reasons) is a church about which to be excited.
The health of the church (praising God and having favor with all the people) seems to be linked to the salvations that were happening. In other words, spiritual growth produces numerical growth.
So while it is not all about the numbers, some of it most definitely is about the numbers.
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