Big Numbered Intis :: MK Ministry Lesson 2 of 8

Kent Shaffer —  May 2, 2008

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.

For Discussion:
- What “numbers” does your church measure, and how do you measure them?

[Photo Credit: José Félix Arias Ynche]

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

3 responses to Big Numbered Intis :: MK Ministry Lesson 2 of 8

  1. Kent:

    A great subject. Someone said we value what we measure. Also, what gets measured gets managed.

    We have assembled a snapshot – a series of stats – that help us measure what’s most important to us. We use it to monitor progress weekly, monthly, annually.

    It includes # members, how many new members joined in that period, # regular attenders, attendance (adults and children), first time guests, those involved in volunteer ministry, those involved in a small group, weekly giving as well as 5 week and 13 week weekly average, number of contributors, and of course salvations, baptisms, child dedications, etc. Beyond this, Fellowship One software has gazillions of reports allowing you to get even more detailed infomation.

    This month’s Rev! Magazine has a great article entitled, “How Healthy Is Your Church? Check Your Ratios”. Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch had a great week of blog posts dealing with Metrics this past March.

    I’m interested in what your other readers measure.

  2. it was put on my mind recently that there is only 1 number that counts. and that is the number 1. 1 lost sheep. that’s what matters. church, evangelism, etc should all be focused on the 1 lost sheep. not made comfortable or accomodating for the 99.

    keep up the good work!

  3. Kent,

    This is winding up to be a great series of posts. I think this will have a lot of traction once it’s all said and done. Not many of us carry the weight of insight your experience has brought.

    Brian Jones