by Thom Schultz
“Our worship attendance has grown from 100 to 500 in just the last year.” “We have over 75 kids in the youth group.”
Numbers. They’re the currency of ministry. The crowd has become the definition of ministry success.
But if crowds indicate success and effectiveness, Jesus’ ministry was a bust. The crowds turned out to see this famous guy. They sometimes assembled in large numbers to hear an inspiring word or glimpse a miracle. They lined the streets on Palm Sunday like fans at a Hollywood red-carpet awards show.
But a week later the adoring crowds turned away.
Jesus’ true effectiveness, his real disciples, did not come from the crowds. He changed the world through his personal interaction with a small number.
It’s likely true for you too. You have the power of the resurrected Christ within you to change lives. One by one. Who will in turn change other lives. One by one.
People in ministry are all about encouraging faith. That’s not a crowd thing. You don’t mass-produce faith. It’s an individual thing, a relational thing.
We tell our Lifetree Cafe branches that it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the narratives. When thinking and talking about this ministry, we urge leaders to tell the stories about what God is doing in people’s lives. Don’t focus on the numbers. Focus on the narratives.
I received an email once from Katie, a volunteer at a Lifetree in Indiana. She told her story of sitting with three new people from the community. She raved about how the experience “steered the conversation. They asked questions left and right about my faith.” She told how she shared her faith story, in a very natural way, with these curious new friends.
God worked through Katie. Not through a crowd. But through a faithful disciple who engaged in a natural conversation with three wanderers who trusted her with their questions.
Take time today to celebrate your Jesus-inspired success. Not in the size of the crowd. But in the individuals God has placed around you.