“Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually.” Numbers 1:2
The purpose of counting every male 20 years old and above was to determine how many men were able to go to war for Israel when entering the Promised Land (1:3). This would help them determine the strategy to use against their enemies and could also provide encouragement for the people. But there is also a danger in keeping track of numbers. It can lead to pride such as when King David took a census for prideful reasons in 2 Samuel 24.
It is not wrong to keep track of numbers in evangelism if it is done to bring God glory (I Cor. 10:31). God recorded the number of people saved early in the book of Acts to show His power and influence (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:36; cf. 6:1, 7; 11:21; 16:5). This can still encourage believers today to develop a bigger vision for what God can do in and through them. Let us not forget that each number represents a person for whom Jesus died. Each person is important to God. Plus, keeping track of numbers can enable us to develop the proper strategy for discipling those new believers. In addition, it helps you measure the effectiveness of your ministry.
It is also important to remember the dangers of keeping track of numbers in evangelism. If pride is your motivation, then you are inviting God’s discipline on your life (2 Samuel 24). Pride can lead us to exaggerate numbers to make ourselves look good to others. So, ask yourself, “Why am I keeping track of numbers?” If it is to impress others or feed an addiction, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Our identity is not based on how many people come to Christ. Our identity is found in Christ alone (Ephes. 1:6; Col. 2:10). Our value and acceptance before God are based upon Jesus Christ alone, not our works. His grace determines our worth, not the results of a ministry.
(Adapted from EvanTell’s 2014 Evangelism Study Bible, p. 1340.)