I've been haunted by a spectre. It's one that eludes me and is always near. It's the spectre of numbers. When was the last time you heard somebody in Church talking about 'how many' came to a meeting? Or how about phrases like, 'we're down/up on attendance compared with last year'? I hear stuff like this all the time. Go into any meeting of youth workers or ministers and very quickly the number crunching begins - we're fascinated by them because we see numbers as the main evidence of failure or sucess in our ministry.
Something about these conversations has always made me feel uncomfortable and I'm normally to be seen side-stepping the question in one way or another (normally by being sinfully super-spiritual!!). Well yesterday I had a revelation - rather, read a revelation!
The kingdom of God is not about numbers - it's about God working through His Church in a broken world to bring healing and restoration. How would it be if we stopped tlking about numbers and just allowed the Spirit and word of God to move in our lives and our congregations?
Imagine if God really turned up and began to heal our hurts and infuse our worship. Imagine if we were so touched by the love of God that it actually 'moved' us to love our neighbour rather than just talking about loving our neighbour. Imagine if we wanted to hear God's word so badly that we wouldn't leave the Church building until we were satisfied, and even then talked about it all the time. Imagine what would happen if I consistently displayed the fruit of the Spirit in my relationships. Imagine if we stopped to listen to those around us, and to respond with compassion.
People would then be touched by the kingdom of God - the kingdom would be breaking through into the reality of life around us. This is following Jesus. This is loving God. This is loving others. Will we let God's kingdom come in us? His kingdom is coming in the world - will we let it come into our lives?