Why are we so obsessed with numbers?

fish project picThis week we are running a FISH (Food In School Holidays) project to provide a hot meal for the families of children who would have had a free school meal if they were at school. We have a fantastic group of churches in Colchester and the team running this is from a variety of churches. Together we can run something that individually we might not manage.

We felt that we needed a larger team than our church could manage because we were aware that the need could be so much greater than we could meet by ourselves.

The need is huge:

  • The local Foodbank who have supported and advised us in this project often see more families in the school holidays as parents on low incomes struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal.
  • The local schools have partnered with us to promote the project and they have distributed around 100 letters.

Realizing a few days ago that 100 families might turn up was fairly terrifying and so we planned extra food and got more team members and we braced ourselves for the crowds turning up.

The reality was that only two families came and at first I was disappointed and then shortly after that I was ashamed at being disappointed.

Two hours later, we had eaten, the children had played and had made crafts, may internet games had been played and a lot of chatting had occurred. The whole time was relaxed and we had a lot of fun and the team and guests all left happy.

As I walked home I began to wonder when we became so obsessed with numbers? There is a how big is your church culture amongst some church leaders and in churches we often celebrate large numbers at events as if that is the best measure of effectiveness.

The reality is that nine people came to the FISH project and we talked with them and made them feel welcome. If ninety people had come we would have felt stretched and we wouldn’t have given everyone the time they deserved.

There once was a youth worker who had a youth club related dilemma. They had a large number of young people turning up each week and the church was really excited about this but the reality was that the people running the club were having to act like police officers most of the time. The volunteers were ending the evenings tired and dispirited and it was dawning on them that they weren’t providing care and support for the young people which is what the club had been set up to do. The answer was obvious, close the club and connect with young people in a different way that allows you to care for and support them but how could this be done in a culture that prioritizes and celebrates large numbers? How can you go to the church who pays your wages and tell them that you are no longer going to do what excites them the most in order to do what is effective?

How about Jesus? Was he more interested in crowds or individuals? You can read my thoughts on this here, but in a nutshell it is fairly clear that his priority was always people and not crowds. He spoke to crowds but he cared for people and he sometimes turned away from crowds to focus on individuals such as Zacchaeus.

How about you? Are you more excited about crowds or people?

People are important and we all deserve time, consideration and respect from one another.

How can we care for someone today?

Fish Logo 1 (2)FISH projects are run in Norwich in the school holidays and we are grateful to them for allowing us to use their name and logo for our project. Find out more about what they do here.

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About honestaboutmyfaith

Hi, my name is Graeme and I’m married to a very patient wife. We have 4 children, 2 rabbits, a terrapin (and not a lot of peace and quiet!). I’m a Baptist Minister who is especially interested in making Church accessible to people who have no church background and also in how we disciple people in order to equip them to live out their faith in the 21st Century. I am also a member of the Eastern Baptist Association's Council with responsibility for Mission Strategy.
This entry was posted in Blessed to be a blessing, Everyone is valuable, Faith, Life experiences, Loving one another and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why are we so obsessed with numbers?

  1. Pingback: A special card that made me smile | Honest about my faith

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