In our shepherd’s vow, one of the commitments is “I will do my best to help one VIP to get baptized every year”. This is not a quota to fill for shepherds. But having such a numerical goal is necessary because it helps us to not lose the necessary tension we need to advance the mission of the church.
A few years ago, I set a very specific goal of reading 36 books every year. The number was based on the statistic that CEO or leaders read about 3–4 books a month. I hit that goal for the first time in my life because I measured my progress throughout the year. When I was falling behind, I tried to catch up. Even though in subsequent years, I failed to hit the same goal, but having that goal helped me to gauge my progress and challenged me to push for it. Again, the goal is not to read 36 books per-se, but it is a measure I use to gauge how much I have devoted myself to learning and how diligent I was that year. If I missed the goal, I try again next year without putting myself down.
People say number is not everything. Yes, number may not say everything, but says something important. Jesus used numeric expression such as talents to measure his servant’s faithfulness. (Matthew 25:14-30) Luke describes Jerusalem church growth with specific numbers like 3000. (Acts 2:41) Some Christians may have an allergic reaction to numbers, especially in church, but it could be because they are confusing “church growth as a result” with “church growth as a goal”.
Health and number go hand in hand. If you are getting healthy, you will lose weight/body fat or gain muscle size in “measurable” way. It is usually considered healthy if the church baptizes 10% of their total adult numbers every year. We try to baptize the number of our house churches every year. Again, the number of baptism doesn’t say everything about the health of a church, but without baptism number, it is hard to measure if the church is healthy, accomplishing the Great Commission.
Evangelism is not a solo act. It takes all the house church members’ contribution and prayer to bringing 1 VIP to Christ from the kingdom of darkness every year. Again, this is not a quota to fill, but a numerical goal that helps us to keep our eyes on restoring the New Testament Church together.