When You Realize Numbers Don't Matter

Learn to measure success based on faithfulness.

Every time our church tried to launch a new small group ministry, we failed. Things never turned out the way we hoped. For our fall launch, we began planning five months in advance, which left us feeling like we had things under control. Though we earnestly worked to make it an outreach event, we launched only two groups—and those two groups were comprised of only longtime church members.

It was heart-wrenching to see our endeavor flop on its face.

When we analyzed why it didn't work, we began to examine our motives. Ultimately, we realized we were only concerned about numbers—not about lives being transformed.

We learned that when you launch small groups as a willing sacrifice with the purest of motives, you don't need results to be successful. You just need to know that you did what you were supposed to do.

While you want to be hopeful and positive about results, you have to be realistic and know you might not get the results you expect. This is true sacrifice: giving up your expectations and accepting God's will.

True sacrifice also entails being willing to get out of the boat to let somebody else in the boat. It's risky; you could die in the process, but you're willing because you know if you don't, others won't be rescued.

So you enter into that Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame group that had a promise but never saw the results. That's biblical. I do believe we're going to be rewarded—that someday there will be numbers. But we haven't seen them yet.

If I were living just for large numbers, I don't think I would have continued, because results aren't always immediate.

Our lay people have worked really hard and long on promoting and overseeing ...

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