Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Numbers

I like numbers. They're fun. Especially when people like Futility Closet make them fun. However, I'm pretty useless with them. I can just about find my way around a Sudoku, but only if it's 'normal'.

I like to see how many people come to my blog, because, well, I'm an egotist and I like attention. There have been times in the last few months where I have had 80 readers a day. It came to my attention recently that this had significantly slipped to a much less enjoyable figure to read.

And so, in my rather imitable way, I got thinking. What is it about numbers that denote success? Even if the venture was never meant to be defined by numbers? I've mentioned before on this blog (admittedly in rather crass fashion) that I wasn't really writing for anyone but myself, and the fact that people were reading this rubbish went to my head.

So, I again came to the conclusion that it was about writing for the sake of writing - nothing more, and nothing less. And just as I was thinking that, I got an email that told me I wasn't in the final of the Christian Blog Awards. And you know what? That's OK.

It made me wonder about church as well. What is it about church that means we measure success by numbers? Why not discipleship? Why not nurture of our brothers and sisters? Why not how a community lives out lives of worship? I suppose those things are difficult to quantify, while 'how many people turn up on a Sunday' is an easier target. Numbers are so easy, huh?

8 comments:

freshspecs said...

I like this. It is quite interesting how obsessed humanity is with numbers. So clear, black and white!

Your thoughts on church...this is something I too have thought a lot about. I went from a large to small church this year. I have to admit, the change was refreshing and necessary. The church I now attend doesn't care so much about numbers; this, indeed, isn't always a good way to measure 'success' (which I will admit is still a fuzzy concept).

PS- I enjoy reading your posts. I was skimming some of them and I think you offer some great thoughts! Keep it up! :)

David said...

Thanks so much - while I do endeavour to write for my own enjoyment and (when I remember) the glory of God, it's love to hear people compliment you about it!

And I'm glad you have similar thoughts about church. It's a hard one to nail down because big churches are churches that expose a lot of people to the gospel. But there's still a question in the back of my mind...

Thanks again!

freshspecs said...

Yep, it's a tough one for sure. The problem that I have is that a lot (not all) of megachurches seem to compromise the gospel message, simply to grow the church. Then it almost becomes an industry, a business. Ugh. I worked a church once and saw the ugly side, the business side. It really made my head hurt.

That is why I tend to be highly skeptical about megachurches. There is such a fine line there between appealing to the current culture and watering down the gospel. Let's face it, Jesus' message wasn't a trendy or popular one, and when I see churches becoming trendy, something doesn't feel right.

I took a class once on church growth and the professor advocated that if a church hasn't surpassed the 200 mark, evangelism isn't being emphasized enough. I still don't know how I feel about that.

Then again...what do I know??! Sorry to go on and on, it's just something I have thought a lot about! haha

David said...

Well, I'm not sure it matters 'what you know' but more 'what you think'. Thanks for getting involved.

And the arbitrary 200 mark - interesting. I come from a completely different point of view: if the church has 200 people in, it's 100 people too big. Ever been in a church of 200 people where you know everyone? No. That's not church.

Your thoughts?

freshspecs said...

Absolutely! That's becoming more of my mentality as well. The idea of the body of Christ in the New Testament involved a dependence on one another, just as the body relies on all of its parts.

I grew up in a church with 2000+, and the services were somewhat like a concert. You come, listen, and leave. Now that I have been part of a much smaller gathering, I love that participation is encouraged and the people actually know me. If something is said that doesn't quite sit right, I am able to dispute it; which really opens up a lot of doors for biblical discernment!

Anyways, it makes total sense that groups of more than a 100 should consider branching off.

How do you feel about the modern-day system of pastors and clergy being completely supported financially by their congregations? I have even been struggling with this lately. Was this the way it was originally intended?

Hmmm...

David said...

I've never belonged to a church larger than 120, but I did have a stint of playing in the band of a church of about 200. Despite being up the front week after week, I still had people ask me if I was new. Most frustrating.

You raise an interesting point. At the moment, I work in an Anglican church, where all the money goes to the diocese and is then spread out 'evenly'. Church work is such a hard task, I can see why it is a full time vocation. However, it also means that church leaders can get rather insular. I was thinking to myself the other day that I don't actually have many non Christian friends, because I live and work in a Christian environment.

I think where 'tent-making' is possible, it should be done. But some churches are just not set up like that, and it would be a a big ask for them to change the system.

As to the whether it was 'intended' - I don't think much was ever 'intended'. Churches happened, as a verb, and because someone presumed that the verb was a noun, we got the hand-me-downs.

freshspecs said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Because of all of the work to be done, working in a church setting certainly turns into full-time work. Like you said, it would definitely be asking a lot to ask that the system be completely changed. I do think about the apostle Paul and his supporters in ministry; a lot of that support included finances. So, I can see where a church's reliance on patrons can be biblical. Just curious, what role do you play in the church where you currently work?

Interesting conversation! I like seeing other's perspectives because so often I ponder both sides of the issue at hand.

As far as becoming insulated, I have definitely been there. I've worked in a church, been to seminary, etc. It is definitely easy to find yourself in a "Christian greenhouse" of sorts.

Certainly food for thought!

David said...

Thanks for your thoughts - I greatly appreciate it. Currently I'm working for an Anglican church in north London, as the intern, but with a great deal of responsibility and trust being placed in me! Quite scary, but great experience.

All the best.