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“The Sermon on the Amount”
Hillcrest Church Office
November 13, 2003

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“The Sermon on the Amount”
by Tom Goodman

What a great turn-out for our All-Leadership Sunday School meeting last Wednesday!  Those of you who work in our Sunday School program are key players on our leadership team!  In this Thanksgiving season, we say “Thanks!” to God for giving us you!

Last Wednesday I got a chance to speak to our Sunday School leaders.  In this edition of LeaderLines, I want to share my comments with the rest of my “leadership-partners.”


Our Sunday School ministry is one of the most important ministries in our church.  We average about 500 people a week in this small-group ministry.  And that’s just a statistical average.  Knowing that many don’t attend every single week, if you count the actual number of people who have some connection to our small-group ministry, we actually impact as many as 700 to 800 people.

Because this ministry is so vital, we’ve chosen four days as “High Attendance Days” in the 2003-04 year.  One has already passed:  the last Sunday of October is a traditional High Attendance Day in our convention.  The next day is just a few weeks away:  December 14.  You’ll hear about the other two as the calendar pages turn.

Now, the moment you decide to set a “High Attendance Day” and focus on a goal, someone’s going to ask why we have (in their words) “all this focus on numbers.”  You’ll always hear someone say, “Shouldn’t we focus on quality instead of quantity?”  That’s just a false option to me.  Asking that question assumes that to focus on one means you have to sacrifice the other.  I reject that view.

Let me give you a scenario.  Let’s say that your family went out on a camping trip and one of your kids or grandkids got lost.  You search and search and finally someone says, “Look, I say we give up the search and focus on having a quality experience with the kids we have left.”  What would you do?  You’d probably get angry at the person!

I think the Father gets angry at us when we say, “Let’s not focus on getting all his kids into Bible study; let’s just focus on making a quality experience for those who haven’t gotten lost.”

Our job is to reflect God’s priorities and God is interested in numbers.  Do you believe that?  He is!  He likes numbers so much he named a book of the Bible “Numbers.”

Okay, that last line was a joke.  But seriously, let me ask you:  do we know how many people were saved on the day of Pentecost when Simon Peter preached?  Acts 2:41 says that three thousand were saved.  How do we know that?  Because someone counted, and someone was impressed enough to record it.  The book of Acts is a numbers book.

Now, why is God interested in numbers?  Numbers represent people.  When I look at the average attendance of a class, to me those numbers represent real people who are being challenged by one of our great teachers, real people who are learning from the Word how to make life work.  If you’re averaging fifteen in attendance this year and thirty in attendance next year, that’s not an “accounting victory” to me.  That number tells me that you are influencing twice as many real people.

So, numbers are important, but why have High-Attendance Days?  Shouldn’t we always be doing what it takes to increase our numbers and keep our people involved?

Have you noticed that the only context in which people ask this question is in regard to attendance?  Think about this:  Shouldn’t we always be mindful of missions?  Shouldn’t we always be praying for and giving to missions efforts?  Most of us would say, “Of course.”  Then why do we have the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering?  These special days nudge us to do what we should do all along.

The same can be said of High Attendance Days.  These special days give us a chance to review whether we’re doing all we can to interest people in coming to our lessons.

Engaging Bible study, authentic fellowship, and effective outreach:  these three things are what the church is all about.  And these three things are best accomplished in the Sunday School ministry.  I want to thank you for your work in these three purposes of Sunday School, and I am praying for you to accomplish these things in power in the months ahead!