Numbers, we love them and hate them. When they are going up we celebrate. When they are lower we go into evaluation mode. When we talk about the ministries we lead we tend to mention them to our friends. Numbers are a factor for all of us but they can never be allowed to consume us. Seriously, I believe numbers can entrap us because we become addicted to them when we base our self confidence on what they are revealing to us. If we are not careful we begin to celebrate numbers more than life change in the people we lead. When it comes to numbers we have to learn to manage the tension they bring. Ignore numbers and you will not see clear and consistent trends. Hold them too tightly and your judgement will be clouded. When it comes to the “numbers crunch” here are a few rules to remember.
- Always be honest // When we count we are always tempted to add on a few or estimate high. Trust me, don’t do it. Inflated numbers never help anything. Be honest with how you track your numbers. Adding numbers that are not real always forces you to chase inflated numbers down the road. Honesty today helps you celebrate tomorrow when honest growth and life change happen.
- Track the data // I should not have to mention this but always keep recoreds of the numbers you want to track. Getting a count is good but being able to find that number in 2 years is priceless. Find a way to keep numbers safe so you can have needed data later.
- Count and celebrate what matters most // Sure we track attendance in our weekly environments but we alo track stats that matter most. How many small groups are we launching? How many students are getting baptized? How many teens are plugging into our events and retreats? How many students are involved in mission trips and projects serving our community? Go ahead and have the courage to track what matters most to you!
- Look for trends // stop reacting to numbers and start looking for trends. Numbers have to be examinded over a extended amount of time. Numbers can help you see trends that will help you plan and program more effectivly. Use data to help you make better choices. We can do all the right things and still not be effective if we are not paying attention to the data we track.