The Harvest is Plentiful

by David Drury

 

Our church has made a goal of reaching 365 people for Christ this year.  It’s hard to put a number on those kinds of things.  I’ve always been sort of “numbers shy.”  I had to do special tutoring with a computer in grade school because I was behind my class with mathematics.  And the math portion of the SAT was definitely my struggle point.  But even more than my personal numbers weakness, I have always thought that focusing on numbers as a church can be a really dangerous thing.  And our church has not historically been number-driven.  I remember realizing that I had been here 3 years and no one had ever mentioned “how many people were here on Sunday” in a staff meeting.  That is really rare.  However, we realized this last year that we are far too numbers shy.  The pendulum had swung too far to the non-numbers side.  So we’re now paying more attention to numbers as one of the ways to see how God is moving in our church.  So I’m trying to grow in that way along with the church.  This is part of my attempt.

 

365-92-5

 

In some ways the 365 number is more of a figurative goal because, of course, it comes out to “reaching one person every day” as a church.  The idea is to be like the early church, where God “added to their number daily.”  We think that’s a great barometer of God really moving in our church.  But it’s a realistic goal too.  We divided up the 365 number into our different ministries and we’re tracking how many people start to follow Christ in each area.  For instance, I chose the number 92 for our small groups.  That’s 92 people starting to follow Jesus from our small groups alone.  It’s sort of a figurative number too.  You see, with growth trends in that ministry we could be at about 92 small groups in our church this year.  So I’m hoping each group takes on the responsibility to not be inward-focused, but to reach out and see at least one person’s life transform to a different “Christ-following” path in the coming year.  That’s a big hairy audacious goal in my book.  I honestly don’t think it’s possible without an amazing revival of lost people mattering to God in our groups.  But then again, that’s what I’m really going for, not the number.  If that revival happens the number will happen.  And maybe the number will help each group get their responsibility in the matter.  And we’ll be doing our part to reach the 365.

 

I’m also trying to do my part in the 92 personally.  I started a tough questions group this year for the express purpose of discussing the hardest questions people have that are “on the fence” about deciding to follow Jesus or not.  So, I hope that group helps me do my part in the 92.  Actually I’m hoping to personally be involved in the turnaround point for 5 people.  So my 5 is part of the 92 which is part of the 365.  But what about beyond that?  What is the 365 doing part of?  In thinking about these numbers so much I’ve done a bit of researching on what would happen if just our church hit all our numerical goals.  Here’s what I’ve discovered…

 

MAKING A DENT

 

If our church reaches one person every day of the year this year we'll be doing our part to make a dent in the population growth of the United States.  In our country alone the population is growing by one person every 10 seconds!  So we’ll be doing our part.  But our part isn’t enough to make it all happen of course.  The numbers tell me that it will take about 6,000 churches reaching someone every day just like our church (God adding to their number daily) in order to keep up with the present population growth in the US just this year.  You see, the growth is exponential so it’ll take more churches next year to stay even.

 

This means we need more churches to catch fire.  And this means we just flat out need more new churches.  Our church planted another church just over two years ago.  They have more than 350 people who are a part of that church now.  They baptized 21 people in August the same day our church baptized 135.  This seems like a good investment to me.  We need to plant more churches!  And when I say that I’m not groaning out to others and saying our denomination, or district, or the church down the street needs to plant more.  I mean my church needs to plant more churches.  Soon.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

 

But in the world, the population is growing much faster than the United States.  I looked into it and our world population grew by nearly 100 million in the last year alone.  That’s 100,000,000 people.  That's an increase of three new people on planet earth for every second of the year!  So whereas we need 6,000 churches in the United States to have “God add to their number daily,” the entire world needs 180,000 churches!  There are about 38,000 Southern Baptist churches in the United States alone (the largest collection of denominational churches in the world).  This means we need 5 times the amount of Baptist churches in our country spread around the world instead and all seeing 365 people in the next year in the world coming to Christ.  This is to reach the new people alone with the population growth.

 

Or, perhaps this was all so much better summarized and prophesied 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ:

 

"The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few.

So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest;

ask him to send out more workers for his fields."

-Matthew 9:37-38 NLT

 

I have to do my part in the 5.  It’s not optional.  My group has to do its part with the 92.  It’s not acceptable to drift from this.  My church has to do its part with the 365.  It’s too small a thing to miss out on the harvest for other distractions.  And every true follower of Jesus Christ has to do its part in the 100,000,000.  The clock is ticking.

 

 

© 2005 by David Drury

TWC: 1,200

 

 

Notes on the numbers:

All figures calculated and statistics gathered on 10 October 2005.  Please correct any hard numbers that need altered from that date.

US Population factors in births, deaths and migrant increase.  You can track this minute by minute at http://www.census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html

World population increase factors in deaths so the 3 per second figure is a “net growth” number not just a number showing births.

You can interactively track future world projections and past stats at: http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop

Right around the year 2000 the planet went over the “6 billion” mark.  

I believe there are 31,556, 926 seconds in a year and that's how I calculated this estimate... correct me if I'm wrong.