///Let’s Be Honest, Numbers Matter

Let’s Be Honest, Numbers Matter

Numbers matter.

“It’s not about the numbers. I don’t look at the numbers at all. They don’t matter.”

They do.

Now before you get all puffed up, let’s really talk about it.

Let me ask you a couple of real (and be honest) questions about numbers. Really think internally about them:

  • When there is an unusual amount of your students who bring new friends and the place is packed and energy is high, do you not feel good about what is happening?
  • If you planned for 30 students to come to an event and 4 show up, do you not get a little down on the inside (at least for a little bit) while you put on the face that everything is okay?
  • When less than 50% of your leaders show up for a leader meeting, do you not get a little disappointed?
  • When an event crushes and you see students who came for the first and come back the next week with some friends, do you not leap for joy on the inside?

I can go on and on with different scenarios but I think we can honestly say numbers do matter because any leader, if they are being honest, when they put in time and effort and have some sort of expectation of attendance and it either meets or falls short of those expectations, it affects our mood at least for a little bit.

I won’t lie to you, a few weeks ago at our service we had some great numbers. They were higher than normal. It was a great service and I went home stoked. Last week for some reason that I don’t really know (pretty sure there were some big CIF volleyball games) 20% of our students that were there last week, were not this week. Now, 20% of students is noticeable… HA! Even though numbers were lower it was a great service AND a student gave their life to Jesus, and I will be fully transparent with you, I went home bummed (we can be honest right?).

I HATE that I even have to say that but in the spirit of transparency, this is what I was feeling. After my wife went to bed, I stayed up thinking about the night and I felt the Lord nudge me as if He was saying, “Stop it. You’re making the wrong thing the priority.” I was convicted, I repented for my human way of thinking and thanked the Lord for the student who stepped out from death and into life.

Here is my opinion and things I need to remind myself as a leader:

Numbers matter, but they are not the only thing that matter. Every leader wants to grow their ministry whether it is in their service, small groups, students serving, we want to see more of them doing whatever we define as successful. They really do matter, but there is so much more.

Numbers show success but they are not the only measure of success. Numbers are for sure A thing, but they are not THE thing. In reality, anyone can create a crowd. Growing numbers over time is a form of a measure of success because you are adding people to into your ministry and getting them involved and growing spiritually. Truth is, healthy things grow but when we make numbers the MAIN thing you are just going to be in a world of depression. You know why? Because students are flakey and they will break your heart.

Being faithful to your ministry is better than worrying about numbers. At the end of the day, we are called to a ministry, we are not called to numbers. Every year our numbers change because we gain the younger class and graduate the older class and numbers will go back and forth. I think we DO have to keep our eyes on the numbers but we need to keep our heart in Jesus. We are called to our place of ministry and called to love the students who show up and yes… even called to love the ones who give you lame excuses for not showing up HA!

I don’t know this is helpful for you but this is just a little bit into my mind the past few weeks. Numbers do matter, but they are not the only thing that matter. Let’s just not say, “It’s not about the numbers, numbers don’t matter” because the truth is if we are honest, we get excited or a little bummed when numbers are not where we think they should be. Numbers do matter, let’s just not make them THE thing that matters.

Your mind and heart will thank you.



By |2019-04-23T09:24:51-07:00April 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

About the Author:

Justin Knowles is the Youth Network Pastor at Sandals Church in Riverside, CA. He oversees the student ministry across all 10 Sandals Church campuses. He hosts Youth Ministry Hacks Podcast, loves to write about his ministry journey and he teaches at all sorts of camps or retreats. He and his wife Kristin have a son named Graham and baby # 2 on the way. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @justinknowles3


  1. Luke Wenger April 24, 2019 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Brother, your blog posts have really been encouraging me. I’ve seen a lot of healthy things happen in our SM this year with growth in both students and leaders (both in numbers and spiritual discipline), but I’ve still had many days where I felt down and out due to low turnout at a specific event. I’ve greatly appreciate your wisdom on this topic and already feel encouraged. Thanks for all you do for the kingdom brother!

    • Justin Knowles May 30, 2019 at 10:55 am - Reply

      Thanks for letting me know! So glad they have been helpful to you my friend!

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