It’s often said that churches shouldn’t get caught up in the numbers game. The life of a healthy church involves much more than just a crowd attending on Sunday mornings. Get a group of ministers together and inevitably some will spruik how many are coming to hear them preach; or they will want to know how many are in attendance at other churches. Obviously there can be a wrong emphasis on numbers which is driven by pride and competitiveness.
Numbers however are not unimportant. The Bible frequently draws attention to numbers in different contexts – great multitudes followed the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 3:7-9); the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:30-44); around 3000 were converted on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2); over 500 witnessed the resurrected Christ (1 Cor 15:1-6).
It is a fallacy to assume that a large church must mean fruitfulness, just as it is a fallacy to assume that a small church must mean unfaithfulness. There are excellent churches made up of two or three dozen and there are contemptible churches made up of two or three hundred. Growth does not necessarily equate to God’s blessing, nevertheless a dwindling congregation disseminates the fragrance of death not life. Every church irrespective of its size should be concerned to grow because it is our business to see people converted and come to a knowledge of the truth. Importantly, numerical growth must be tied in with spiritual growth. Numbers mean nothing if the people are not growing in the fruit of the Spirit.
If we do not have a great desire to see the kingdom of God grow then our desires are misplaced. By all means we need to guard against wrong motives and wrong methods. We also need to guard against that “Laodicean” spirit of lukewarmness and complacency. Let us earnestly pray for and labour toward the extending of God’s kingdom and may He be pleased to use our church for the in-gathering and building-up of His people.