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Beyond Numbers: What Every Pastor Should Measure

There is an epidemic in the American Church.

It is an obsession with basing fruitfulness in ministry on a numbers game.

The American way is bigger-and-better.

I am troubled that the church in many ways has bought into this method of evaluation and continues to do so. I would hope that all pastors want more people to come hear the gospel preached, experience the warm fellowship of our people, be baptized, discipled, and flourish in the church.

If you do not desire these things, please do not be a pastor.

Yet, in my experience of serving on staff at two different mega churches, closely knowing many other churches, and observing the envy that some small churches possess towards larger churches, there is a great deal of focus on numbers as that which deems a ministry fruitful and faithful.

There are several problems with a pastor allowing numbers to be the measuring stick of our ministries, but here is the greatest: it does not appear to be how God evaluates our ministries.

According to Hebrews 13:17, God is evaluating our ministries based on our faithfulness to “care for souls as those who will give an account.”

Numbers may communicate all kinds of good things about one’s ministry, but whether God is pleased with it based on numbers is a dangerous conclusion to make.

Especially if the Chief Shepherd will hold a pastor to account not only for all those “reached” and brought into the church–but also those whose souls are neglected.

For pastors who are feeling the pressure of this numbers measuring stick, there is some helpful counsel for you. However, I had to seek it from outside the American Church scene and from a different time altogether.

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braincroft@churchleaders.com'
Brian Croft is senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the author of "Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness (foreword by Mark Dever) and "Test, Train, Affirm, and Send Into Ministry: Recovering the Local Church’s Responsibility to the External Call" (foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.). Brian blogs regularly at Practical Shepherding.