Impact versus Numbers, which is more important? Numbers matter, because each number represents a person who matters. Therefore, we should pay attention to numbers in ministry. However, I am more interested in the impact we are making in our community. I am more interested in the number of people whose lives are a little better because my church is in this community. I am praying that we pay attention to the number of people who think a little more about Jesus because they see His love in us and feel His compassion through us.
There has been a lot written about how to break through certain numerical barriers in the church. I believe these articles and books have an important place in the evaluation of a church’s effectiveness. However, I believe that if we only seek numbers then all we will be left with are those numbers. If we instead, seek to love, help, touch and impact people we will have a church that has people who are seeking and following Jesus, and that will make a huge impact anywhere.
To break through we must …
- Be a part of the community – It is nearly impossible to have a lasting impact in a community if we are not in that community. We need people, from our ministry, who live in, and near, that community. If we are not in the community, we may be viewed suspiciously by those in the community.
- Be participants in the community – If we are physically in the community but do not participate in the affairs of the community we will severely limit our opportunities to have people listen to us and trust us. Get involved in the community. Attend community events. Have a presence in community functions that allow groups to have a booth, a float, a banner, or whatever is appropriate.
- Partner with other community groups – Come alongside and support other groups. If you only participate when you can be in control you will not be viewed as a team player. If you are not viewed as a team player your community will stop paying attention. When they stop paying attention, your opportunity to make an impact disappears. When you support existing groups, and help them to do well, you will gain a hearing with those groups.
- Love your community – If you do not already have a love for your community then slow down and seek it. Spend time praying for the people in your community. Not nameless faces, but the real people in your community. Spend time out in the community and get to know people by name and story. This will begin to change, and charge, your heart.
- Appreciate your community – Frequently mention things about your community that you appreciate in your ministry gatherings, as well as things you are praying for in the community. (Thanks for that reminder Pastor Todd Keller.) In doing this you will raise the awareness of your people for the community and your community will take notice.
- Seek to know the real needs of your community – Don’t assume that you know the needs of the people in your community. Listen and ask questions as you move about in your community. You can even make an appointment to meet with some community leaders (such as the Mayor, School Superintendent, school personnel, Police, …) and ask questions. At this meeting, don’t tell them things, ask them about what is needed and how you might be able to help. Be sure to listen and take notes.
- Pray a lot for your community – Too often we plan and don’t pray. Too often we create strategies without taking the time in prayer to seek God’s guidance for these strategies. Too often we talk, and write, about praying for our community a lot more than we actually pray for our community.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. This is just a “let’s get started in the right direction” list. Making an impact is too important to be left to our assumptions and clichés. We need to recognize the need and then do all we can to make an impact in the communities in which God has placed. Otherwise, we are not being the church that we are called to be. When that happens, we suffer, the church suffers, and our communities suffer.
Tell me your thoughts and what you are doing to make an impact in your community.