Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Numbers

The book of Numbers in the Bible is often overlooked because many assume that it is all about numbers and genealogy. Those numbers that represent people and the people who make up the genealogies are a gold mine of stories. For many their story has been forgotten or lost, but their names still stand and serve as reminders that numbers and names stand for stories, within the story of God.

This past weekend on a visit to Ginghamsburg Church, Tipp City, Ohio, there were some numbers that I found significant. 

  • $120,000 instead of $2.1 million. A few years ago Ginghamsburg was approached by a United Methodist church in Fort McKinley. The church in Fort McKinley was struggling and they needed a new mission. They wondered if they could become an extension campus of Ginghamsburg. In talking, thinking and praying about the prospect Ginghamsburg completed a feasibility study. They discovered that if they were to plant a brand new church; buy land, build a building, put a pastor in place, the initial cost would be in the neighborhood of $2.1 million. The cost to retrofit a building already designed and designated as a church and to get initial ministry up and going, $120,000. Ginghamsburg went with the $120,000 option. The church is connecting people to the ministry of Jesus in incredible ways.  
  • $31,000, 300, under $2. At the Fort McKinley church there is a weekly breakfast served from 8 - 10 AM. The average number of people who eat each week is somewhere around 300 people. They are able to provide it for less than $2 a person. When we talked with the Director of the breakfast ministry she told us that they were looking for some help refining their process. They talked with a manager of a restaurant known for its breakfast and large dining room. When the manager inquired about the details, the manager exclaimed, we can't do what you're doing. Not on the monetary side, nor the number of people served.
  • 6 and up. Most churches talk about the joy and responsibility of Jesus followers to serve others. When it gets down to the sticky details, at some point there is usually an age threshold where service can begin. At Fort McKinley we asked about volunteers for making the breakfast ministry happen. They have a set up crew of 6 that makes things ready on Saturday. On Sunday volunteers arrive at 7 AM and stay until about 11 AM for prep and clean-up. They need at least a 12 volunteers on Sunday. Volunteers come from small groups, families, class groups. On the day we visited we watched in awe as a 12 or 13 year old young man created a perfect omelet. He volunteers often and he made the 2 adults on either side of him look like amateurs. We watched as 3 sisters, the youngest being about 6 and the eldest 10 or 11, walked among the tables, clearing and cleaning them after guests had eaten. These young people were fully participating in the ministry of Jesus and not only as receivers, they were serving joyfully.  
God is amazing and some amazing stories exist among the numbers. Some numbers drive us to pray, some numbers discourage us, and some numbers remind us of God's amazing work in our world. 

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