Images-10 5.  Stories over Numbers

Like most churches, we have a lot of important numbers that we count and look at (attendance, salvations, baptisms, partners, volunteers, leaders and giving). However, we must continually remind ourselves that it’s all about the PEOPLE!

The Bible is a story about God and people and their journey together. It contains numbers (un-apologetically) but the focus is the people.

One day Jesus fed 5,000 people (someone counted!) BUT the focus of the story is on the little boy who offered up his lunch, the training of the 12 disciples in growing their faith, and the miraculous provision.

On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), there were 120 people praying in the upper room and after Peter preached, 3000 responded (again, someone counted!) BUT the focus of the story is on the power of prayer, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the formation of the new church community.

This year, take more time to listen to the stories (of struggles and triumphs) of other people – engage in them and then pass them on. This requires us to become better at asking questions.

In Reggie McNeal's excellent book Missional Renaissance, he suggests some good questions to ask of other people: 

1. “What do you enjoy doing?” People love to talk about what they love. There is always a link between what people enjoy and how God desires to use them. 

2. “Where do you see God at work right now?” One of the goals of spiritual formation is to help people see God at work in their lives. This question is designed to help people look for God is the everyday aspects of their life – not just at church or while doing some spiritual activity.

3. “What would you like to see God do in your life over the next 6-12 months?” “How can we help?” This question gets people talking about what is most on their mind and ultimately leads to personal development questions. We can them point them towards people, resources or experiences that can help them grow.

Informally, you become a coach and a mentor. [Notice that this is very different than frantically trying to get people to support our programs]

4. “How would you like to serve other people?” “How can we help?” Most people grow through service. That service may be within the church or outside of it.

5. “How can we pray for you?” Prayer is a powerful way to communicate love and care for a person. Prayer always helps!

This approach is much more personal than positional and can have a powerful affect. Focus on the stories … not just the numbers …

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