Sunday, September 16, 2007

#9 I Stopped Worrying About Who Is Absent

Hello All,

No matter what any Pastor tells you, numbers are crucial to how we gauge our own success, especially when you are a younger Pastor. To some extent, that is not a bad focus. It reveals a level of responsibility. However, the obsession with numbers can be crippling to the effectiveness of any minister.

I remember the night when I came face to face with this lesson. I was the Junior High Pastor at Calvary Chapel of Redlands, fairly new on the job. I had a really large group of Junior Highers, upwards of 80+ kids on any given Tuesday night. This Tuesday followed a great preceding evening and I felt positive about the results that I was seeing. Then the bottom dropped out from underneath me when only 10 kids showed up on the next Tuesday. I did not realize that I had a huge 8th grade class who were graduating into the High School group that met on the same night!

It was a huge test for me and I found myself really bummed out. The next week, I had a very difficult time getting excited about my responsibilities on Tuesday night. I thought about all the kids that I was looking forward to getting to know and the plans that I had made around their attendance. Now, I had 10 kids. I felt like quitting.

Then, I realized that many of those same kids did not share the same enthusiasm that the previous group had. They rolled their eyes, refused to talk about spiritual things and were generally closed off to any attempt at fellowship. The situation truly made me want to quit. I even got so far as to draft a resignation letter, one of many I would write over the years.

Then I got a ray of hope. There were a few young people who were not only enthused about the Lord, but were genuinely looking to take a big step in their understanding of the Bible. There were 2 girls and 1 guy that I began noticing taking notes during the study and raising their hands during worship. They responded to me reaching out to them! Over time, they started to bring friends and neighbors, because they were excited about what was going on.

All of a sudden, I found myself concentrating on them. They wanted to be there, and they were there every week without fail. Before long, I stopped thinking about who was not there physically, nor who was not there mentally. I realized that God had given me a certain group every week that He wanted me to pour myself into. I would be responsible and loving towards those that were there, and not allow myself to worry about who was not there and why they were not.

What did I see happen? God, through these few enthusiastic teens, added to the number that I would be responsible to. That group grew steadily, at some points reaching upwards of 50 Junior High kids. I had passed the Lord's stewardship test, the principle being that we do our best with what God gives us and He adds more when that responsibility is answered.

Before I knew it, I became less consumed with numbers and more interested in people who I loved to see and spend life with. Today, I have embraced the same philosophy. When there is a low day at church, I find myself taking some extra time to enjoy conversations and get updated on situations that I have been asked to pray for or have some information about.

In the end, I pray that the Lord adds to our numbers. I want that just as much as any Pastor. But if not, then I will be thankful and attentive to every person that does come.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


April said...

i remember that tuesday've always been so good with people, so that they know they are loved and important, not only to you, but to God...and that is what draws them to your ministry...which in turn is blessed.
i hope you are well...i check your blog fairly frequently and have my own:
not sure if you knew or not, but i'm heading to Romania with Word Made Flesh (who I went to India with) but this time for the long haul...i'm excited and happy yet dreading the good-byes and the long spaces of time between seeing those i love...i'm sure you know.

Patty said...

Hey Frankie, good stuff. You have totally tapped in to one of the inner struggles I'm having right now. Your experience is helping me to focus differently. Thanks for sharing.

Frank & Lela said...


I have also been stealthily checking on your site, which I found through Jason and Kris' site! I pray that the Lord truly blesses your ministry there in Romania and will hope that your blog will remain active so we can keep up with you.

And yeah, saying goodbye...there's nothing good about that!


Thanks for the affirmation. I feel like I had a lot of wasted time when I was focused on who wasn't there or who wasn't into things. I wish that I could have come to this pillar much sooner. I feel like it makes all of us better ministers.


April said...

thought i'd add that it's Jesus in you that draws people into word and fellowship and ministry...