Worth by Numbers

Everyday as part of my devotional time I read a short quote from one of my heroes in the faith, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. I find it amazing how relevant his words are for the church today:

Brothers and sisters, we don’t measure the church by the number of people, nor do we measure the church by its material buildings. The church has built many temples, many seminaries, many buildings. The material walls stay, become part of history. What matters are all of you, the men and women, the hearts, the grace of God giving you truth and the life of God. Don’t measure worth by counting how many are the crowd, count the sincerity of the heart with which they follow this truth and the grace of our Divine Savior.

(from Through the Year with Oscar Romero: Daily Meditations, pg. 30)

©2010 Todd Rossnagel

In United Methodism we are going through a period of reflection and reaction on the continued “decline” of our denominations. In many of our Annual Conferences (mine included) we have been given the task of being more attentive to measures of effectiveness. I have joined others, not in a rejection of measures, but in asking if we are measuring the right things.

If we are to be about the work of discipleship making for the transformation of the world then I think we should be measuring not just the numbers of people in our pews (average attendance), or those entering the journey of faith (professions of faith), or those who go on a mission trip (missional engagement), or what percentage of money we have paid toward’s apportionment. None of those things give us effective measures of our mission, “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

What if we measure our transformation levels?

Disciples living out the way of Jesus make a difference in the world. All that loving, all that justice, all that compassion, all that grace is indeed measurable.

Archbishop Romero reminds me of something else: being a faithful disciple of Jesus comes at a price. I wonder how many of us are willing to pay it on behalf of the transformation of the world?

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