Using Numbers in Evangelism

“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.)

Discipleship Relationships

“Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him… a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him.” Mark 3:6, 8 

After Christ healed the withered hand of a man in the synagogue (Mark 3:1-5), the religious leaders plotted to “destroy Him,” but “a great multitude … came to Him” (Mark 3:6, 8b). The healing grace of Jesus addresses the real needs of people, but religion neglects the real needs of others to focus on outward appearances. 

Christ’s healing grace draws needy broken sinners to Himself, but it is despised by the religious person. Jesus Christ is all about relationships, not religion! This is why Jesus was such an effective disciple-Maker! Relationships were far more important to Him than outward appearances and peoples’ approval. If we are going to be effective disciple-makers, relationships must come first, beginning with our relationship with Christ and moving outward to those He has placed in our lives.