Links Daily Devotional

Numbers Game

And a great many people were added to the Lord. (Acts 11:24, ESV)

Those involved in the business side of golf will tell you quickly that the numbers don’t look so good these days. After all, golf is a recreational activity, and when economic conditions dictate a tightening of the belt for most folks, they may still find their recreation, but they do it in places where the cost is minimal.

Still, the game is the same for these course managers: get as many rounds played on your course as possible. The bane of a course’s advancement is blank spots on the tee sheet.

As followers of Christ, we will note as well that the health of a church can be judged by its numbers. How many, that is, are showing up to worship Jesus where you attend?

Sure, there are excellent reasons not to get too hung up on counting. For one, counting over commitment is no good. If your church is growing in numbers but your people are not growing in their walk with Jesus—with deeper devotion both to time spent with Him directly in prayer and to time spent doing the things that He has asked us to do, like feeding the hungry and clothing the naked—your church needs to take a second look at what those numbers really mean. Moreover, counting for comparison—leaving us singing “my church is bigger than your church!” in the depths of our proud hearts—is deadly to the spirit of any one local church as well as to the church across your city.

But even with these potential negatives in mind, we cannot ignore the numbers, especially as they are recorded in Acts. We should want to see, as the early church did, people “added to the Lord.”

Do you see the difference there? Where we are prone to counting the numbers in our church, the observers in Acts counted those who were coming to Jesus:

– “Those who accepted his message [about Jesus] were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41)

– “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47)

– “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (Acts 5:14).

It’s a trend that culminates in today’s Acts 11 passage. You see, the health of any collection of believers—a church, a Links Fellowship, a local Bible study, a Christian school—should be measured by the work God is doing among them, not the least of which is the number that He is saving in their midst and adding to their group. If this isn’t happening where your friends in the faith our gathered, you should be asking why not.

Tomorrow: Reasons we don’t multiply

Jeff Hopper

November 29, 2011

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