By Ken Blue
Often we hear preachers, in their pious zeal, state that God does not care about numbers; He only cares about our spiritual condition. That is, God is more concerned about quality than He is quantity. Now, I agree that the last part of that statement is correct. God is more concerned about the spiritual condition of a church than He is about its attendance. However, I have observed that many pastors justify their lack of numerical growth by assuming their little group is ultra-spiritual.
If conditions are conducive in your location for growth, I doubt the health or spirituality of your church if you are not reaching the lost. A church is not spiritual because it is large or small. However, a small church that has no goals, plans, or desire to reach the lost is not spiritual. It is lazy. The way pastors justify their stagnation is by finding fault with those churches that are reaching the numbers. They suggest that these churches are not doing things God’s way; that is the reasons for the growth. The reasons given for their own lack of growth is; “we are doing things God’s way.”
God does care about numbers. John 3:16 says He loved the world enough to die for people. There is a book in the Bible called Numbers! God had the people numbered. The commission is to go to all the world and to every creature. In the parable of the great supper, God was upset that his house was not full. He re-commissioned His servant to get anyone who would come that His house might be filled. Also, He counted the sheep and noticed that one was missing. So, those pastors who are excusing their lack of outreach by pretending they would rather have a spiritual church, while criticizing growing churches, are hiding behind a spider web of hypocrisy.
A wise pastor realizes that you don’t have to sacrifice spiritual maturity for outreach, nor do you sacrifice outreach for spiritual maturity. A healthy church will work to balance all that is required of the church. The church is commanded to reach the lost and get them into the church. It is commanded to mature the believers through sound doctrine and unity. Then, each believer is to be trained how to serve the Lord. This involves more than soul winning and tithing. Finally, the church should producing pastors and missionaries. You don’t drop or ignore any of these. Like the juggler, all four of these ministries must be in the air at all times.
A danger for all churches is that they turn inward and focus only on their little family. This may look good and feel good, but it is not good, nor a sign that your church is healthy or godly. God does care about numbers; numbers are people, and God wants your church to reach them and bring them into your church.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.