This year, American Idol’s ratings dropped severely. Was it due to not as much talent as previous seasons? Was it the arrival of Ellen? Was it the soon-to-be departure of Simon? Maybe it was that and a lot more. The show’s viewership dropped 50% from 2006 (50.6 million) to 2010 (24.5 million). Can it be saved from such a huge drop?
I love people downing American Idol this year. Sure 50% is a lot of people to lose, but has anyone forgot that the show still has 24.5 MILLION viewers? That seems to be a tad bit more than most shows on the air today and no one is worried about their demise. When did a show with 24.5 million viewers become in trouble?
When we live in a culture obsessed with numbers.
And it is effecting your church too. Now, I’m not an anti-number church guy. Numbers do tell us something. If people aren’t being saved, if no one is coming, that does reveal something. But it doesn’t reveal everything.
In the church world today, we are obsessed with certain ratings. And if those ratings are not what others are experiencing or what we feel like we should have, we tend to question what we are doing. Once again, if everyone stops coming to your church and no one is being baptized, you might need to evaluate, but are we measuring the right things?
Jeff Lethco, author of Before You Change a Thing (and my pastor by the way), says that churches are obsessed with counting the “B’s.” We tend to count:
- Bodies–how many we average.
- Baptisms–how many we dunk.
- Barometric Pressure–how stormy or calm the church atmosphere is.
- Busyness–programs, meetings, events.
- Buildings–bigger means better.
- Budgets–more means we’ve arrived.
We track those numbers, but do we track the numbers that really count? Are we tracking transformed lives? A disciple is harder to count on an excel spreadsheet than a body in a seat. We can see someone go under water but we can’t gauge how he is treating his wife. So we settle for less. If the budget is bigger than last year, you win. If you have more activities than the rival church down the block, you win.
And yet we follow a Savior who often said things that made crowds go away.
We stake everything on a man who usually left the crowds for a select few people.
We “build” churches based on seeing how we can reach certain demographics in the name of a man who said some seed won’t take root.
Numbers tell us something, just don’t get caught up in the wrong numbers.