I think for most (if not all) people involved in ministry, it is easy to get caught up in numbers. If one has a program or event and attendance is good, it leaves the planners with a sense of satisfaction. The opposite can be true if numbers are low – leaders can walk away deflated. We can become enamored by the numbers.
I remember something I read years ago (in the book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry I think): It’s easy to compare what you don’t know about someone else with what you do know about yourself. If I see what I consider success in another program and compare it to mine, it could leave me feeling unsuccessful.
I’m not sure how to get away from the numbers game. It is A way to determine success and fruit, but not THE way to determine it. There definitely is value in tracking the number of people involved in programs, groups, events, etc. I guess the challenge for the leader is not to live and die by the numbers.
I’m not the first to discuss the tension that exists and I really don’t have great, clear-cut advice for people in leadership positions. There are people smarter and more experienced than me that could speak to it. Just in the past few weeks I’ve been caught up in that tension and kind of chuckle at myself when I get either too high or too low based on the turnout for a particular program or event. I’m still working through it and manage it better some days versus others. Guess we are a work in progress.