Sunday, January 20, 2008

When Numbers Matter

Anyone involved in youth ministry (or any ministry for that matter) is familiar with the desire for numerical growth. Week after week we hope to see more seats filled and more kids to talk to, but in our gut we know this is not the ultimate purpose of our ministry. A full youth room is exciting, but there's a number that's more important than the weekly head count. We find a great story of a complete outnumbering in the book of 2 Kings.

2 Kings 6:15-17
15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
16 So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Many times I get discouraged after being filled with hope as I go to our weekly meeting. It might be the hope to see some new faces or the hope to see a returning student who you had in mind as you prepared for the meeting. But when we actually get there we face a letdown. I still fight the temptation to say to the kids that ARE there, "Where is everybody?". But if we're on the Lord's side, there's a number that's infinitely more important than the number of kids present. That is the number of God's army. We have a great army that goes before us. We have an army that outnumbers any force that's working against us. And this produces hope. From the story in 2 Kings we see fear of men turned into a great confidence in God's strength. We see that when eyes are opened the earthly numbers fade in comparison to heavenly numbers. We have that same God working for us. We have some high hopes for this generation, and God is the only reason that those hopes are not in vain. Just think. You might be teaching the next Billy Graham or Elizabeth Elliot. We never know where God's providence will lead a particular student. And that's just one student. One student could be the catalyst for change in the world. That's an amazing thought. And God just might let you see exactly who's fighting for you some day.

1 comment:

Timbo said...

I see where you're coming from, but I'm not sure I'd agree. Here's my perspective on the issue: