Saturday, December 6, 2008

No Numbers

Alright. Time for a break from this stupid essay. Shout out to Sadamitsu and the No Numbers crew, thanks for the title.

Yesterday was large group. Carol's last :( I wasn't quite sure what she would talk about as her last Cal IVCCF talk ever, but i don't think i expected what she did in fact choose to talk about. There were numbers. Lots of them. Statistics. I did not do very well in Stats 2. I'm sure Carol's intentions were good. I'm glad that the numbers were prefaced with the disclaimer that "every statistic stands for a life changed." Nonetheless, while they were going through all the digits and how our fellowship keeps getting bigger and bigger and "better," i couldnt help but squirm in my seat.
Is THIS our goal? More people? I know for damn sure this fellowship is not about increasing numbers. I think back to reading (/skimming) that book True Story-- it's about escaping that box of numbers and that "more conversions" mindset, right? Maybe i skimmed too fast. Carol forced us to read and reflect on that book (which sucked), so I know her intentions for showing the numbers are good. But i suck at math. I don't like numbers. Especially in the context of Christianity.

John 6:60-69...
The gist: 66From this time many of [Jesus'] disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
I firmly believe--though i may be wrong--but i firmly believe that if Jesus or Paul had a church today, their church would not be that big. In John 6, Jesus speaks truth and people complain, they judge, they doubt, they leave. Sometimes truth is offensive. If Jesus or Paul had a church today, would you be there? You'd be challenged for sure, but is that what you want? Sometimes i worry that inflating numbers in IV are not a result of God's truth but of comfortability. Don't get me wrong, i love Intervarsity, and i think our comfortability with each other is a gift from God, but i want to be able to use the intimacy we have so we can challenge one another. Do we live this way?
One thing people like to say about Carol is that she said what she had to say, even if it wasn't what people wanted to hear. I honestly didn't want to hear about numbers. And i'll be the first to call it out. I don't want to boast about how many conversions, small groups, leaders, members, or whatevers that IV has. I want to boast about God's truth, even if it hurts.


Ariel said...

i'm still reading. just so you know.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.
its jen tai btw.