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"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14

“I'd rather be in a congregation of 50 members who want to hear the Bible than a church of 500 members who don’t.”

Concerned Christian

We know that numbers don't prove truth, but do we still put too much emphasis on them? “How many attend where you go to church?” “How many students are in your preacher training program?” If the number is high, we say “Great!” If it is low, we think “Bless their hearts.” This thinking seems to be ingrained in us.

We need to remember our Bible instead of focusing on numbers. Few were saved from the flood (I Peter 3:20). God chose 300 Israelite soldiers rather than 32,000 to fight the Midianites (Judges 7). Jonathan's attitude was this: “Nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few” (I Samuel 14:6). God has often accomplished great things with small groups of people.

The New Testament teaches us the same lesson. Sometimes Jesus preached to thousands of people. But the numbers did not always remain high. At Capernaum “many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more” (John 6:66). We naturally want to see as many saved as possible. That is good. It is our duty to do whatever we can to help that happen. But we cannot and should not try to decide the numbers. Even Paul said: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (I Corinthians 3:6). We should also remember the the Bible says nothing about how many were in the church at Ephesus, Rome, or Thessalonica.

Do these words apply to online teaching and preaching? We seem to judge the value and effectiveness of internet teaching by the number of viewers and subscribers we have. This is not wise. It is time that we recall the Scriptures we just noticed. One genuinely interested viewer is worth more that ten thousand who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7). That one person may in turn reach dozens or even thousands with the gospel.

Trust in God and have faith in the power of His Word. Don’t be dismayed when you see figures of 2.3m viewers or 786k subscribers while we struggle to get a few hundred to notice the saving message of the cross. Most people are looking for entertainment, news/gossip, or something to buy. But we give hope to lost souls looking for the Truth and to Christians needing encouragement. We must get back to the idea of quality instead of quantity.

If you have subscribed to the big number approach, it is time to unsubscribe.


West End church of Christ bulletin article for May 14, 2023.


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