Quality and Quantity

In Christian ministry, we always face this question of quality and quantity. Which one should be our priority? Most believers believe that numerical growth is the sure sign of God's blessing on a ministry. They often quote Acts 2:47, to substantiate their belief. Let's search the Scriptures to see whether its true.

The words of Jesus to Pharisees are always worth considering, if you are a believer who thinks your doctrine and faith is all perfect. Look at the similarities between the Pharisees and today's believers – their doctrines are all correct, they study the Bible regularly, they preach messages with theological integrity, they have religious titles and they earnestly seek for it, they are very careful in external holiness,they fast,tithe, do missionary programmes and so on and so forth. What was Jesus' reply to all these seemingly spiritual acts of the Pharisees ? We read that in Matthew 23- one ofthe most furious chapters in the New Testament. Note that Jesus did not preach it to the Pharisees, He was speaking to the multitude behind Him and His disciples. That means it's a message for us, to obey and not be a Pharisee. Here Jesus points out on this issue of quality v/s quantity in verse 15 as “ You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Jesus is saying that, Pharisees, you are only interested in increasing your following, but not one bit interested in the spiritual quality of the followers. The words of Jesus are so true for today's ministers of God. To paraphrase the above verse for today's ministers would be 'You are only interested in the increase of your congregation and not at all on the spiritual growth of your flock'

A true Christian minister should have his focus on the spiritual growth of the people God has entrusted him. We should never be bothered about the numbers/statistics. It's not the nature of Jesus to count the flock and be happy about it. It's the worldly way of analysing success. We have business firms and organisations looking at numbers and being worried about it all day long. Christian churches and ministries sadly are also aping the world, by being worried about numbers. When there is a large gathering, we tend to believe God is at work, but when there is only a few folks involved in our ministry/church/meeting, we say 'oh there is dryness!!' How fallen we are?

In I Corinthians, chapter 3, from verses 10 onwards, we find the stress on quality in ministry more than quantity. Here we find that we can build on the foundation of Christ using gold, silver and precious stones or using wood, hay or straw. Any child knows that, building using gold, silver and precious stones is expensive and time consuming. Wood, hay or straw is available in plenty, is cheap and requires not much effort. What is your ministry built of?

"It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work." I Cor 3:13 (NIV)
"It shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort (not what size) it is." I Cor 3:13(KJV)

In verses 13 and 14, it is written that the Christian work of all men will be put to test on the Day of the Lord. It will be passed through fire, and if it survives, then only there is some reward for the minister. On the other hand, if it gets burned up, he will suffer loss. Will our ministry pass through the Lord's testing? If not, then what's the use of boasting about all these 'multitudes gathering' and 'house full' meetings'!!

The question of quality over quantity is not only applicable on ministry, but also onall areas of our Christian life: our prayer life - its not how much you prayed, but how you prayed; our preaching - its not how long was your message, but how (and what) you preached etc. In the same chapter and seventeenth verse, there is warning for all who preach (or advise or counsel).

"If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple."

If we destroy the Lord's temple (his people), we will be destroyed. How careful we who minister should be about the spiritual quality of our preaching/teaching/advice.

Let's never forget that, it's when the first century church gave priority to spiritual quality in every area of the Christian life, we read in Acts 2: 47, that "the Lord added people to the church daily."

May the Lord give you more light from His Scriptures.


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By Jay Dharan
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