Why we should focus on the numbers, despite the tumbleweed

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11/01/2018 by Chris Green

January can be a bad month for pastors’ morale, and it’s not just because we’ve broken those New Year’s Resolutions already. It’s because we’ve just come through the busiest season of the year, and we’ve bent over backwards to get as many people into our services, and as many services into our diaries, as reality will allow.

And now it’s January.  Tumbleweed, anyone?

Our pragmatic friends focus on the numbers, and that makes things worse.  Yes, Christmas may have been up on normal, and even up on last year, but January feels quite… January.

Our pietist friends tell us not to focus on the numbers, but that feels a bit like escapism.  Yes, God is sovereign.  Yes, he does his hidden work.  Yes, the seed grows secretly.  But is that it?

Instead, let’s focus on the truly encouraging numbers.

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace (Colossians 1:6)


bearing fruit…


all over the world…

What tumbleweed?

Today, in your corner of the planet, you might not be seeing much growth, but lift up your eyes.  Read your bible, read the right blogs, make the connections and encourage yourself: the gospel is always growing and converting people, because it is God’s Plan A, and he doesn’t intend to have a Plan B. Churches are starting, growing, multiplying.  One life at a time, the world is being won.

Take courage, and strengthen those tired arms and legs.

Christians can be, must be, optimists.

We have been given faith in a faithful King who will rule the world.  He has said so.  We have a true and certain hope.

So now, with heart lifted, go back to your numbers and your diary, and make your plans to pray and work.  Because our little corners should not normally be an exception to that glorious expectation.

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