I have been thinking about numbers a lot lately… Numbers define and measure things.
We weigh ourselves (side note starting 2020, 25 less than 2019) We check our balance in our checking account (mine always seems to be lower than what I think!)
We set goals at work, at church at school and we wait and count the numbers so that we can measure results.
We are judged and evaluated by the numbers… My fear is that the charts we use don’t really tell the story… they don’t really give us good insight into the real or the whole story.
Did you know that only 11% of churches average over 200 people? Only 8% of people who go to church think that it is important to share their faith. (check Barna, CT today, pew studies and census reports)
As a pastor, leading people to a full life in Jesus that in turns leads them to share their faith is no small feat.
We measure ourselves by attendance (I call this butts in seats) budget (response to the mission, and obedience in biblical truths and discipleship) Salvation (those who encounter Jesus and accept him as their savior) Baptisms (those that make a public statement of faith).
And while those numbers tell a story, they don’t tell the whole story. Do those numbers tell us the impact we have on the community? The age-old question, would your community miss you if you weren’t there?
Churches should be thinking about how to repurpose the church to redeem the community. This question asked by Mark DeYmaz in his book “Disruption” has been on my heart and mind a lot. Now I should say that I was thinking this before I read it. For the past 5 years (really longer) I have been thinking about how the church is effective in making a difference in the community. Honestly, the “come and see me inside my 4 walls” just isn’t the model that will carry the church on in the years to come.
What does that mean? What does it look like? My vision for Trinity is to reach One Percent of the Lehigh Valley with the love of Jesus Christ (around 8500 people)
My word for this year came months ago, and honestly, it is not just 2020’s Word of the Year. It is my new focus. My new mission. My new ministry. Reimagine! Reimagine Church, Reimagine Community Development, Reimagine how people come to know Jesus. To think outside of my experiences, my history and my comfort to see God’s kingdom come here, as it is in heaven.
Did you know that the average church attenders will only come to church once every 4-6 weeks. That means to have a church that averages over 200 (only 11% of churches) you actually have to have 3x in people to reach that average attendance.
When we came to Trinity in 2014, average attendance was 60 people. With a responsibility list of about 175. Since that time our average attendance has grown to 380. But what I found interesting is that we have 621 people that are active on our list (meaning these 621 people come to Trinity “regularly”) then there is another 511 people who are on our list that come to Trinity 3-4 times a year. Which brings the number to 1,172 people who would call Trinity their home church.
Now let’s not forget the online people, because they are important and growing. Then there is another 250 per week (could be some of the people above who aren’t physically there but not all of them) tune in at some point during the week and watch some of the worship service.
Now then, we have over 300 people come to know Jesus and a little less than 100 people baptized in 5 years.
Numbers are tricky things, aren’t they? Some of you are going, “Wow! That’s great.” Others are saying other things… while others would say, Trinity is not multiplying , just adding… nothing to see here… add some campuses, do some other things like that… then maybe you will arrive…
But how about these numbers… in the last 3 years Trinity has impacted the lives of over 700 children in the Allentown School District. We have a group of ladies that we like to refer to as the Zumba ladies who every week invest in the lives of the homeless over the past few years that number is well into the hundreds. Or how about the couple that spends every Friday night in the prison discipling and leading a group of prisoners with the gospel.
Or how about the Zumba program that takes place at our church where over 100 women every week come through our doors, exercise together, then the leader shares a devotional and prays for them. Since it began over 350 ladies have come through our doors.
Or maybe we could talk about the Young Adult group that goes once a month to the Memory Care Facility up the street where they minister to 20 older adults who are not longer at a place they can come through the doors.
You see reaching the One Percent of the Lehigh Valley doesn’t always mean you have thousands of people walking through your doors… but it does mean that you equip believers to go and share Jesus. And Jesus is being shared.
Numbers are important and help us measure results. But numbers can’t be the only thing, or where we find our value. You see I won’t reach the 500 club (and yes this is a thing) I won’t be ask to speak at a large conference (that’s okay too) and no one will want an interview (well except my dad!)
But what I know is that the best is yet to come- what God is stirring in my heart and is laying before me is amazing. The dream that he has planted and is growing in my heart and imagination are beyond anything on my own strength or know how … but I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
I am not satisfied with or okay with 2/3 of the world population not knowing Jesus. And if we don’t catch up to the fast pacing, ever changing culture we are in, the church will continue to be left behind.
Numbers do not define me or the mission. God defines me and the mission. When we start looking at other things, we can be blinded to the very things that are calling us forward.
We all have a choice to make in this life. We can spend our life exhausted trying to fit into places and things that God never intended us to fit in, or we can walk in the fullness of life he has for us.
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