Perhaps after over three decades of ministry I should be used to it; but I’m not. I’ve always hated, after a meeting or series of meetings, having someone ask, “How many got saved?” (or the equally annoying, “How many decisions?”)
So…I look like the Holy Spirit? Only He perceives hearts…only He convicts, draws, changes hearts.
But we do like the body counts, don’t we?
I am not challenging or questioning the hearts of those who ask (or those who count, for that matter)…but I do wonder…does ANYONE really believe the “numbers” tell any kind of story?
And…even if they did…who brought the unsaved to the meeting? Who did the genuine convicting? Who keeps the count that counts?
The Word of God, inspired by God, has so many vague tallies (not counting Numbers, of course, which opens another can)…but in the New Testament the word “about” is used often…as in “about 5,000,” “about 120,” and in Acts, “about twelve.”
Yo…even I can count to twelve. Methinks the Spirit of God could have had Luke write 13, 11, or 12…but, instead, He dictates “about.”
Could there be a lesson there for us? Is it possible that lesson is to remind us to walk by faith, and not by sight? Could a secondary lesson be that only eternity reveals what really takes place in hearts? And could the prime directive be that individuals are more important than numbers?
I repented long ago of being a body counter. I read my early newsletters in shame…”I preached 13 times and there were 42 salvation decisions, 13 assurance, and 7 dedications” ad nauseum. As if the numbers indicate “successful” meetings, where if there were not “numbers” than the meeting was a failure.
But…can’t we just be confident that His Word cast forth in faith will accomplish His will?
Call me simplistic…but that’s where I’ll park. (and, just a sidenote; my dislike of numbers is impacted by my service in Vietnam…where numbers were inflated, stretched, lied about, reckoned to be true indicators etc)