I spent part of my childhood as a missionary’s kid in Lima, Peru. I still have quite a few souvenirs from my time there, including some intis I have tucked away in a box in my closet. In 1990, intis were Peru’s currency.
What I like about intis is they come in big numbers. I have a bill for 50,000 intis and another for 10,000 intis. They even made a 5,000,000 intis bill. It is a neat feeling to hold millions of monies in your hand, especially if you are a kid.
But the problem with intis is they are worthless. They stopped using them in 1991. And even when they did have value, 5,000,000 intis was comparable to $2.50.
Sometimes big numbers are meaningless.
THE MINISTRY LESSON:
Sometimes big numbers are meaningless. Does it really matter how many ADDYs your church wins or how many eggs you hid at your Easter event? Not really.
But what about church attendance and membership? Do they matter? To some extent, yes. Membership and attendance can be great indicators of how effective your church is. But the perceived value of these numbers can also be falsely inflated.
While attendance and membership are important, we cannot lose focus on which numbers truly matter. We cannot forget that the most important numbers are those that measure spiritual gains for God’s Kingdom. How many people came to Christ? How many people came back to Christ? How many people are growing in their spiritual maturity? Lives changed are what matter.
Which is greater? An inward-focused, stagnate church of 5,000 or a passionately selfless Christian who reaches just one of society’s untouchables?
Living in a statistics-loving culture where “bigger is better,” it can be tough to shake the perceived importance of big numbers, even when they don’t really matter. It was thrilling to find obsolete inti coins in the dirt. Psychologically, the coins seemed valuable, but in the real world, they were just worthless big numbered intis.
Numbers are important. But some numbers are more important than others. Focus on the numbers that really count. Focus on the most important measurements – changed lives.
– What “numbers” does your church measure, and how do you measure them?
[Photo Credit: José Félix Arias Ynche]