I’ve heard objections over the years about collecting church metrics. The hardest one to wrestle down is this: counting things at church is somehow sinful, prideful, or otherwise unspiritual.
I’ve seen collecting church metrics result in fueling excitement, growth and outreach. I’ve seen it send pastors into depression and kill the morale of a Launch Team. How can both be true?
Examples in the Bible
I figure if it were completely unspiritual, it wouldn’t be found in the Bible. Or at least it would always be cast in a negative light. So here are some biblical examples of counting things. These are just a few that came to mind:
- Gideon’s army numbered 32,000 at first. God counted them and instructed Gideon how to reduce his force to 300 in two easy steps. God had a plan for a preferable future which necessitated counting. -Judges 7
- King David also later counted his own army, but his census was sin and ended with punishment. -2 Samuel 24
- Jesus picked exactly 12 men to be his closest disciples.
- Peter preached the first Christian sermon on Pentecost and “about 3,000” were baptized that day. Somebody counted, or at least estimated, that number. And Luke was inspired to include that in Scripture. -Acts 2
It’s About the Heart
At the end of the day, the counting itself is amoral. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a thing. Why you’ve counted and what you use it for determines whether it’s ‘unspiritual’.
If that’s true, then:
- collecting church metrics isn’t less virtuous than not collecting them (in its own right)
- deriving your self-worth from the count (resulting in either pride or depression) is probably not a good reason
- but not counting for the wrong reason could be worse than counting for the right reason
So where’s your heart on all this? Collecting church metrics can provide you the information you need to make better leadership decisions. Whether you’re doing it out of pride or some other reason will determine whether it’s unspiritual.