I don’t care how big your church is or your budget!

I really want to be able to say that authentically. I can’t yet. I like to count. I’ve been doing this for years. I count heads. I estimate numbers. When my wife goes to a women’s event at our church, I always ask her, “How many people were there?” Almost every time she doesn’t know. I just can’t understand that. Often times I will try to ask her again in a different way, like “How many people do you think showed up?” She won’t even guess.

I find myself trying to offer her my own guess and I just hope that she’ll confirm it. She won’t. She really doesn’t care how many people showed up. I want to be like that. I wish I didn’t care, but I do.

Somehow in the fabric of my perspective on what really matters in ministry are these fibers that determine value based on size. Bigger is better. Size matters. More and larger and increasing means that the event or activity is successful and good and valuable.

When my kids go to youth group on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights, I find it hard to resist the temptation to find out how many kids were there. I can’t resist it. I always ask. Sometimes I even want to know the names of all the kids that showed up. My kids hate this inquisition. Why do I do this? Why do I determine value based on how many people show up? I’m messed up. And the sad thing is that a lot of pastors and church leaders are messed up, too. We focus our energy and resources toward getting more people to come rather than on the transformation of those who are there.


Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
4 replies
  1. Missional Jerry
    Missional Jerry says:

    One of the points in the seminar I do for churches looking to becoming more missional is about numbers.

    We must develop a true way to tell others about What God is doing in our churches. But it cant be numbers!

    It’s a hard task, but a needed one.

  2. ZooMuse
    ZooMuse says:

    Why? It’s DNA; it’s Christendom’s values; it’s the default setting that Christendom and evangelicalism and a mis-apprehension of the congregation’s role in evangelism/discipleship that has been burned into your soul. Quite frankly, I think there are only a few ways to move away from this mindset. One is to go through detox, to simply stop attending the congregational form of church for a long enough period of time that you can gain perspective and allow new thoughts and values.

    Another is to endure spiritual ‘chemotherapy,’ a process I am still trying to fully identify and define, because in addition to chemo, there is the need for ‘anti-rejection drugs’ to allow new DNA and old to co-exist. Somehow I think this involves the development of deep, mature relationships with people who are significantly different from you and who do not believe what you believe, yet who will love and trust you enough to tell you the truth–as they see and understand it. Chemo is dangerous because it leaves your defenses down, but is necessary if you are to be cured. Yet, just yesterday I was speaking with someone you know well who made the statement: ‘Christians are too afraid of non-Christians to risk developing close friendships with them.’ The pity is that this is true.

    At its root, the numbers game is a lie. As you say in the sub-title to your blogsite, it’s about mission, it’s about people engaging in meaningful ways ‘out there’ where Jesus is and where God is.

    I do believe that, just as with default settings on a Word document, the settings can be changed, but it also requires being together with others, some of whom share your values, challenge your assumptions, and refuse to let you live the lie.

    Rick Cruse http://zoodad.typepad.com/zoo_musings

  3. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Whenever we focus on budgets, buildings and bodies we always miss the mark on living out the GREAT-COMMISSION (God’s Co-Mission with us).

    Zoomuse: Making disciples out of the unreached is not a congregation’s job -it is your job and mine.

    Dave: I’m with you -I don’t care either. Great post.

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