I have a love-hate relationship with numbers.
I think most people do. I love it when my test score comes back with a 99 but hate it when it shows a 55. I love it when my bank account shows a big positive number but hate it when it shows a negative or a small number. I love it when my Gators are 10-0 but hate it when they are 5-5. I think as a church planter and a pastor we have that love hate relationship with numbers as well. We speak and preach about how “it isn’t about numbers, it’s about the mission,” yet how often do we count how many people showed up this past Sunday, how many baptisms we’ve had, or how much was in the offering plate?
At this stage in my life in church planting, I want to be about creating the right vision.
I want to care about building the best team and instilling good Gospel DNA. Yet more often than not, the things that I focus on are : How many people were at our last launch team meeting? How much fundraising do we have? How many church partners are we getting? It’s really hard for me to live in this tension where I don’t want to be about numbers or even care, while at the same time, living in the reality that numbers matter and often effect everything. I’m passionate about the vision and calling that God has given me and I trust Him to accomplish it but so much of who I am is wrapped up in this vocation and my feelings of worth are often wrapped up in “number” success. I live in this tension of not caring about numbers vs caring too much about them. Love-hate relationship.
So what is the solution to this tension?
The solution for my tension is the Gospel and I need it preached to me constantly. My sin separated me from the God who I was designed for. On my own merit I am not successful and I have no hope of pleasing anyone, let alone God. The “good news” is that God was pleased to send His Son to live a perfect life and satisfy His justice by Christ’s death on the cross. So now my worth and identity aren’t found in my success or the numbers that I achieve but instead my value is found in the fact that I am a beloved child of God purchased at infinite cost. God is advancing His Kingdom and He has already won the battle. I’m just blessed to be an emissary of this truth. I don’t need to win the battle or fight the war, Christ has already won.
So I can live in the tension of loving and hating numbers because I can remind myself that my worth and my identity isn’t found in numbers. I can rest well because I know that Psalm 127 states “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” God will accomplish His purposes and advance His Kingdom. To Him be the Glory.
Lawrence Yoo (@Lawrence_Yoo) is a Church Planting Resident with The Summit Network and will be planting WayPoint Church in Durham, N.C. in 2014. For more information about WayPoint Church visit WayPointRDU.com.