As obsessed as pastors (including myself) can be about numbers (attendance, salvations, baptisms, giving, etc.), it's never the numbers that bring me the most joy. It's never the numbers that motivate me to persevere another day. It's never the numbers that reveal the transforming power of God. It's never the numbers that bring me to tears.
IT'S THE NAMES BEHIND THE NUMBERS AND THE STORIES BEHIND THE NAMES THAT ARE MOST MEANINGFUL.
It's the story of the un-churched single woman who, for the first time, finds herself interested in a community of faith. It's the story of the de-churched young man who, for the first time in a long time, is giving church another chance. It's the story of the over-churched couple who is looking for a church where their faith can be revived, and they feel like they've found it in your church!
It's the story of the marriage that is restored. It's the story of the sin that is overcome. It's the story of the step of faith that is taken.
It's the story of faith in the midst of struggle. It's the story of hope in the midst of tragedy. It's the story of joy in the midst of sadness.
It's the story of someone who was baptized in your church baptizing someone else! It's the story of someone who was saved in your church serving in your church! It's the story of someone you discipled, discipling someone who is discipling someone else!
Stories matter. Stories inspire. Stories display the transforming power of God.
WE COUNT NUMBERS, BUT STORIES REMIND US OF WHAT COUNTS.
So, if you ever, like me, find yourself discouraged about the numbers, find a story. Find a story of life-change within your community of faith. Find a story of growth. Find a story of development.
Find the story. Celebrate the story. Praise God for the story.
And slowly but surely watch your obsession over the numbers take up less and less room in your soul.