By Roc Collins, Tennessee Baptist Convention (reprinted with permission)
I recently overheard someone cynically remark, “It seems like everybody is way too focused on numbers in church.” I understood what he was saying, but I would argue that focusing on numbers is a godly pursuit. Before I deepen the chasm of cynicism even further, please hear me out. Every number represents a person so valuable to God that he’d be willing to send his only Son to die in their place. That’s value! As it has been said: We count people because people count. Here are four important reasons counting makes an eternal difference.
1. Counting is consistent with the Bible. In almost every book of the Bible there is a number.
- About 3000 saved and baptized at Pentecost.
- That number spiked to 5000 a little later!
- We read in God’s Word that Jesus fed over 5000 (a number) with 5 loaves (a number) and 2 fish (another number)
- A shepherd counts his sheep. Note: You can’t find the 1 until you count to 99.
- A widow counts her coins.
- David counts his warriors.
- And in Psalms we learn that the very hairs of our head are numbered.
- Why, there’s even a Book in the Bible called Numbers!
Are numbers important to God? Apparently so. And with the number of lost people on a beeline course to Hell, counting should not only remind us to reach the lost, it should passionately compel us to reach them.
2. Counting helps us correct.
In every sport and every postgame press conference, the coach is handed a stat sheet. The stat sheet is filled with numbers. The numbers tell the story of the game – triples, doubles, pass completion percentages, shots on goal, number of sacks, free throw percentages. For any coach, this information is gold because it allows him to make adjustments and prepare strategies for improvement.
Think about it for a second. Every game has a clock. Every season has an end. Our mission is no different, but the stakes are eternally higher. Our numbers remind us of the mission and we are on the clock. Think about it. There are infinite game plans and strategies, but no team has an infinite amount of time. We don’t either. The Psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). So, what does wisdom look like when applied? Proverbs 11:30 answers the question: “He who wins souls is wise.” Every time we look at a clock, we should be reminded that our time is fleeting, and people need Jesus. If that’s our focus, we will wisely number our days and have Gospel conversations because people count. If our heart’s not broken then that man repairing your car, the girl bagging your groceries, or your neighbor next door could spend eternity separated from God. Then we need to correct our perspective and look up at the clock. One day the horn will sound and the final story inside the numbers will be told.
3. Counting helps us connect.
At the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, your numbers are very important to us, because we want to help you win. When it comes to helping churches, your numbers in the Annual Church Profile that are collected every year are gold! Keep in mind, no one is going to call and shame you when you have a rough season of ministry. We all have those seasons. Just ask Elijah, Jeremiah, and Job. They all counted their losses. We are here to support and serve you any way we can and counting helps us do that. We serve churches. It’s job one.
4. Counting will help us celebrate.
When your church celebrates baptisms, growth, and spiritual breakthroughs, we all want to celebrate with you. I remember days in my ministry when the funds were low, and the work was dry. Then, out of nowhere, we’d see a student get saved, a family join the church, an alcoholic husband do a 180 and enter a support group, or a business man called to the mission field. Sudden outpourings of God in dry seasons inspire everyone. Like the leper Jesus healed, we can’t help but tell somebody! When a church in Arkansas baptizes five people after years when the baptistery didn’t get a drop of water – we celebrate it! When a church plant doubles in attendance and opens a food distribution center to feed 50 families in the community in one month, we get a fire in our souls. We’re inspired! Every single baptism listed on the ACP is a soul saved from eternal separation. That’s why we count.
When you pick up that ACP form, please remember that this isn’t just a dry, rudimentary document or another nagging task sent to you from bean counters. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate, serve, and track the hand of God around our state. Behind every number there is a person precious to God. That person deserves to be counted.
If you have not received your form or have questions or need assistance please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Gwen McCallister at 501-376-4791 ext. 5103.