Again the anger of YHWH burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” – 2 Samuel 24:1
I guess I am a little obsessed with numbers. I always have been. I like to keep statistics and even majored in accounting in college. Perhaps it is one reason I prefer golf as a sport, there are so many stats to track! It’s a sickness.
I used to keep similar stats on the churches I pastored. I liked to see attendance charted at every level of participation, especially when it trended upward. Honestly, when things went the other way, I wasn’t as excited.
Was it wrong for me to keep count? The shepherd counts his sheep to see if one is missing, but he also knows each one by name. And though David sinned by ordering a census of Israel, there were other instances where God ordered that a census be taken. Perhaps, the danger is when a leader begins to believe that “heads” equal “health.” “Bottoms” in seats do not tell the whole story, though they do tell a part. Let’s just be sure that we aren’t relying on the size of a congregation or a bank account as a measurement of true health.
There will always be a difference between a “crowd” and a “church,” and obedience is more than “nickels” and “noses.”
It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. – A. W. Tozer