Why does everything seem to be about numbers and lists and steps?*

I was taking a minute this morning to peruse some of the headlining blog posts and the Twitter feed at Churchleaders.com and here’s a sampling of what I found:

Twelve Reasons Why Church Membership Matters

Ten Reasons Twitter is like a marathon

Ten Ministry Principles I Wish I Knew When I Started

Nine Reasons why you shouldn’t give up

Eight Leadership quotes and lessons from Super 8

Five Ways to Protect the Heart of a Leader

Five Distortions of the Gospel in our Day

Four Ways to Show Outsiders You Care

Three Stumbling Blocks to Forward Progress

Three Theological Foundations Shaping 21st Century Youth Ministry Strategy

Two Rules for Transparency in the Pulpit**

There was also an advertisement: 25 Proven Outreach ideas for your church.


And if I had looked harder, I’m sure I would have found 6 & 7, and maybe 11. (And believe me when I say there were other 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 12’s scrolling on the Twitter feed and on the news page.

I have to be honest with you: this bores me to tears. Does anyone really expect anyone to keep all those numbers or lists in their head? This is one thing I dislike about the generation of humanity now living: everything can be summed up in a bulleted list. Sometimes I think preachers or writers do these list things because Jesus isn’t interesting enough. That’s just my opinion.

I’d like to see someone write an article at Churchleaders.com titled: One Reason Jesus is Enough.

I just want to take a moment to express my angst. I hate PowerPoint. And I hate lists. And I hate 3, 4, 5, or any ‘point’ sermons. I’m sure they are helpful for someone, but I’m not interested. I have also decided that if I ever have the privilege of preaching weekly in a local church again, I will not ever use PowerPoint. This is only tangentially related to my point.

OK. That’s my technology rant. Here’s my real point: Do we really need 2 of this or 3 of that or 9 of these and 10 of those? Do we? Is this the point of how to be a ‘good leader’ or how to ‘do the job well’? Isn’t One thing enough? Or is that too simple for the church to comprehend? Or are leaders simply incapable to understanding anything apart from a bullet point, numbered list?

I’m reminded of a song by Rich Mullins: My One Thing.

Everybody I know says they need just one thing
And what they really mean is that they
need just one thing more
And everybody seems to think
They’ve got it coming
Well I know that I don’t deserve You
Still I want to love and serve You
More and more
You’re my one thing

Save me from those things
That might distract me
Please take them away and purify my heart
I don’t want to lose the eternal for
The things that are passing
‘Cause what will I have when the world is gone
If it isn’t for the love that goes on and on with

‘Cause who have I in Heaven but You Jesus?
And what better could I hope
To find down here on earth?
Well I could cross the most distant reaches
Of this world, but I’d just be wasting my time
‘Cause I’m certain already I’m sure I’d find

You’re my one thing (one thing)
You’re my one thing (one thing)
And the pure in heart shall see God***

I’m not putting down Churchleaders.com or the people who write there. I’m just asking a question: Is it too simple to say to the leader: Jesus is enough? Is it naïve to say only One Thing matters?

Frankly, I think too many people make it way too difficult to be a Jesus follower let alone a preacher in the church.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

*Don’t read too much into this article. Mostly I found it amusing that so many articles began with the idea that “Here is a Definitive List of [some important topic]“. It seems about as creative as stacking rocks.

**I have written out the word for the numbers due to a formatting glitch. The articles themselves use the representative symbols (i.e., 12 or 2 or 3, etc.)

***That’s only a portion of the lyrics. There’s more. Mullins may not have been making my point, but I like the song and wanted to include it.

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 17th, 2011 at 12:51 pm and is filed under Blogging, Church and Society, preaching. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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2 Comments(+Add)

1   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
June 18th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Frankly, I think too many people make it way too difficult to be a Jesus follower let alone a preacher in the church.

Agreed, but not necessarily because of all the things you mention. Those articles are presented like that to get readers. There are formulas and guidelines for writing such things for mass audiences for whom you don’t already have their attention.

Annoying? Indeed. But I can separate that from the content. I think your main point is valid, I just think their are greater underlying influences/reasons for it.

2   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
June 18th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

My wife and I were talking about this today as we were driving. I’m not sure how I feel. I think it is sometimes too easy to be a preacher in a church. Often the preachers have the least amount of emotional maturity. They can’t handle being disagreed with, don’t play well with others, etc.
I know that isn’t all of them but there are a lot of them.