When Numbers Don’t Count


Some years ago, I lived with a minister, Pastor Walter T. Jones in his small church, a faithful congregation of about 12-17 members.

Pastor Jones had ministered to his flock for over 7 years.  His bed consisted of two chairs and a telephone book for a pillow of which we slept in the one room that housed his church.

Most nights, collections for offerings were about $3.00 and then again, from time to time, people from the streets would walk in:  all with special needs, of either food or transportation.

Criticism mounted over the years that his church didn’t grow.  Yet, time and time again, I saw this man preach and pastor to people, people who desperately needed assistance from the church.

Many would see this ministry as a failure.  I witnessed it as a huge success for all the attendees were people I know good and well would not be accepted in regular churches.

We had the homeless, the druggies, the alcoholics and the murderers and convicts.  All that were there had some type of past and others throughout the week came by, again with special needs.

Pastor Jones is and was the type of preacher that is much needed in this world.  Numbers don’t count.  The only numbers that counted were those who are there.  Ask them If they count if you don’t take my word.

For it all comes down to you.  Do you count?  Are you enough or do we need more.  I say that anyone who comes is enough.  I pray for the others, but my emphasis is those who are standing in front of me.  I believe this is much the way as Jesus.  I don’t recall him reaching out to those except for those who came to him.  Pastor Jones is the type of man who never believed in numbers but found the way for you to count.

20 thoughts on “When Numbers Don’t Count

  1. Speaking of failed ministry…

    What was Jesus’s ministry? Really? Die on a cross??? Even St. Peter can see through that! (Mark 8:31-33). Seriously!

    I follow the “God that failed”. It is my discipleship. I wonder if you or any of your readers here recall that old song Metallica put out many years ago (I am an old metal-head… sorry…).

    Yeah… I realized somewhere along the way, that is the God I follow. And that is the faith I practice. Perhaps you were giving Jesus lip service while giving your allegiance to Caesar, Alexander, or a hundred other possible conquerors – maybe even flag and apple pie. But that is not your Christian calling.

    And you are not actually called to be “successful” in any usual sense of that word. You are called to be faithful, yes – successful, no.

    Great post!

    Thanx for this…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also…

      Following this God might be considered shameful by some. Thus St. Paul tells the Romans (a church in a society with is much like American in many important ways (full of pride)) that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus. I mean, when you have to tell proud people that you are not ashamed of Jesus, it is because there is a real temptation to be ashamed of him.

      The fact that so many American pastors run mega churches or grand successful ministries (not a sufficient enough indicator on its own, but necessary as a part and plenty well obvious in American Christianity) with no sense of caution to the contrary whatsoever makes your post here very important.

      Thanx again for this.

      You are churning out some powerful stuff today, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would hope so. Sure. I’m sure the same as you it seems as though we talk to only ourselves. I will not be discouraged by it although on the surface it looks woeful. To heck with that. Who knows why down the road who will read our alarms. I trust that is God’s hands for only He know. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, like the post says… numbers don’t count.

        I hope your words here impact others as much as they do me. Even if that is just one or two people. But then I hope the impact is worth sharing in feedback.

        Or… of course argument!

        I am always game for that too… But hopefully in some productive sense if it comes to that. But I think your word here is actually FOR MANY whether it gets heeded or not.

        I think of that word TO the prophet I received the other day from a reader on the private line. I published it, but the message there gels with the message here too. It’s no secret our society has the smell of rotten corpse coming up from somewhere, but NOBODY wants to claim it. Nobody says, I am the cause. Its me. I repent.

        Boy, though, we sure salute the flag without asking God first. (I see a connection there, though I strongly doubt many of my readers do).

        What part am I contributing to the mess?

        Well, there are lots of contributions to the mess by lots of people (including me). I eat too much. I spend too much. I wear Nike shoes made by slaves in sweatshops, drink free trade coffee grown by slaves on coffee plantations. I watch porn (somebody’s daughter, sister, and/or mother) doing unspeakable things with a fork and spoon, and then go to church where an American flag dares to share the stage with God. And a hundred other things like these…

        But, of course, I excuse it all and try not to mention it. I compare myself to those idiot jerks marching for the KKK, the Nazis, and Westboro Baptist Church because it makes me feel better about myself and keeps me numb to the fact that I own slaves in China and Indonesia and in the porn industry.

        And somehow, I strive for “success” as if that is going to matter in the Age to Come, and in the meantime I bluff it – “Fake it till you make it”. And part of that package is claiming numbers count.

        Yeah… its all relative!

        And you got me thinking and talking.

        Now… I hope you attract some others too…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Church Set Free and commented:
    “Pastor Jones is the type of man who never believed in numbers but found the way for you to count.”

    I paused on that sentence. Had to run it around my head a few times. And is the reason for reblogging TF’s post. It is profound. Just like his post. Why not see if you agree.

    Thank you.

    (as always, comments are disabled here – please join the conversation at TF’s place)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. TF I know Someone who might lovingly disagree with that comment. I know I do 🙂
        I believe that my “job” in writing any post is to hear well in the words written. So I “don’t really know much either”. But having dropped the pebble – my “job” is done. And any ripples across the pool of still water are His alone.
        As for numbers? He and I are in the middle of conversation about just that. And the question “why do you count all the time” echoes in my heart and mind. My current posts are of that conversation.
        And then your “pebble” plops into the pool.
        And He is speaking gently again.
        Thank you for hearing well.
        Paul

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved, loved this greatly and it was so very timely too! Years ago, maybe I should say a couple (at least) decades ago, I was feeling a bit “under-whelmed” due to the “number” of people I was able to actually preach/teach. It wasn’t that ministry (service) wasn’t happening, I had just worked myself up into believing the Lord had something GREATER for me, involving numbers!

    Someone much wiser than myself gave me a book on discipling one on one and the impact it can have PLUS the freedom one can have just dealing with one person (or so) at a time. It truly did make me see things in a different light and then when I became disabled and couldn’t stand behind a pulpit, the Lord truly showed me the value of being able to serve those HE sends, no matter the number!!

    Over the years, I have seen the opportunities grow through many variations and “reincarnations” and the Lord has shown me areas that a few years ago, others (preachers) thought were just “hobby” ministries. You know what? I’ve been able to minister through the Word to people all OVER the world, because I learned at a younger age that when GOD opens the door, the door is open indeed!!

    Numbers; you can have them and especially if the Lord isn’t the motivation behind them coming! That old saying that “quality is better than quantity;” maybe it wasn’t coined in the Bible, but it certainly was inspired by the Holy Spirt!

    Great article brother!!! God Bless as you continue to serve us with inspiration and insight!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Roland. Thank you for your kind words. I am nobody and my words are stale and mean nothing to most. I write for I believe my Lord wants me to. I don’t even know why. No, he has never told me to, but I believe that. Thank you again for your words have weight with me. I appreciate it. I really do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I write for I believe my Lord wants me to.” — Ah the simple definition of active faith. If others could only realize it is so easy to please our Heavenly Father, God Almighty, the Creator of all things! (Hebrews 11:6)

    First my dear brother, if your words are stale, then the inspiration they gave to this heart and spirit are beyond words! The Holy Spirit knows who needed your words and just when they were needed. I have gone through a period of watching my fellow man go deeper into the pit than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime and it has caused me to be heart-sick in spirit. However, I have known the Lord is not done with me yet (I have no notion as to why not) and so when my physical pain allows me too, I write what I feel HE has laid on my heart. Sometimes it is not accepted, sometimes it is and yet I know it is not mine to question who accepts it or why, it is mine to be obedient to the Lord and just do!

    So I sense it is with you. You said it yourself, you “don’t even know why.” But — you know the unction, the necessity to do what you “believe” (faith in action) the Lord through His Holy Spirit is telling you to do! So you do it and as the saying goes, “let the chips fall where they may!” After all, it IS the Holy Spirit’s job to do what He wants to do with our obedience, it is only for us to be obedient! 😉

    So be blessed, sincerely, and may those blessing be rich AND abundant as you continue to be obedient for each of us you serve AND the Lord, Himself!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Downright profound, T.F: “Pastor Jones is the type of man who never believed in numbers but found the way for you to count.” God, help me do my part, as Pastor Jones exemplifies, so each person I encounter feels worthwhile and valued. Thank you, T.F., for the inspiring post. In addition, thank you for becoming a follower of my blog, From the Inside Out. I pray you’ll find inspiration there as well–at least now and then!

    Liked by 1 person

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