New Life was recently named one of the 100 fastest growing churches in America and one of the 100 largest churches in America. It was quite an honor to be named on both lists, but it also caused our team to discuss the purpose of counting attendance. Our conclusion – it is not the most important measurement or indicator of success.
I don’t think it is wrong to count attendance. Jesus knew how many people needed food and he told a story of a missing sheep. He knew how many people were on that hillside that afternoon and he knew one of the 100 sheep was missing. So counting is ok it seems.
The problem with the list in the magazine is that it can cause pastors to compete for people in the seats instead of things that more important. Attendance matters and it can be a sign that a church is doing great things for the Kingdom, but attracting a crowd on the weekends is the not mandate of the Great Commission.
I would rather count and celebrate the number of people who have said yes to following Jesus, or the number of people who have been baptized. Why not focus all of our attention on the number of people who have been mobilized to minister in the city or the number of people who have taken the next step to becoming more like Jesus?
I made the decision this week to not look at my attendance numbers for a season. We will still count, but I do not want to know the number so I can focus on the more important things. I do not want to be distracted by the ebb and flow of attendance or allow a low attendance weekend to discourage me. I also do not want a really high attendance weekend to lure me into any false perceptions of success.
Success can only be measured by people being saved, baptized and formed into disciples. For sure, our church will grow when these things happen and we will have to add worship services and open new campuses to accommodate the crowds. I just want my focus to be on the main thing right now and not become infatuated with our name on some list.