By Jennifer Johnson
Eighteen months ago it was my extreme privilege to be invited to visit the work of Central India Christian Mission. During our 10 days there, Matt and I were struck by the incredible range of ministries CICM has started. In addition to planting more than 1,100 churches, CICM has recruited sponsors for 5,000 children, published dozens of books, started Bible colleges, created a college of nursing, built hospitals and clinics, and more. Through the work of CICM’s many initiatives, a quarter-million (!) people in India have come to know Jesus—all on a yearly budget that’s one-sixth the size of the average American megachurch’s annual income.
Now Abhineeta and Greg Matney (like Abhineeta’s two siblings and their spouses) are leading significant aspects of the work, and once again the ministry is exploding. Their Aatma Vikas programs began training 30 students in 2012, and just three years and several buildings later have the space to train 700, with plans for even more incredible growth over the next three years.
When you see ministry success like this, it’s easy to feel personally discouraged. I have not led 25 people to Christ, much less 250,000. I have not launched a national nonprofit that’s increased capacity 2,300 percent in three years. I have not launched a national nonprofit at all. I did recently get hired to do significant social media work with a national nonprofit that rarely responded to my e-mails, shared no news for me to post, did not communicate with each other, and then ended the project “because things aren’t working,” and I also once completed an entire website redesign for a client who claimed to love it and who paid for it but never actually got around to using it.
So, you know, in my own small way I am killing it. Please hold your applause until the end. But I’m not changing the world like the Matneys and the Lalls, and it’s easy to play the comparison game.
As you thumb through this megachurch issue, you might feel the same way. If you’re on the list, perhaps you compare yourself to those above and below you. If you’re not on the list, maybe you feel discouraged or even resentful that it exists at all “because numbers aren’t the only thing that matters.”
But neither response is the godly one. Numbers do matter, because each number represents a soul. At the same time, as Mont Mitchell reminds us, your position on a list is far less important than your faithfulness to a call. We have different skills, educational credentials, temperaments, interests, and talents, and God delights in calling us to different tasks within his kingdom. He has created us all so differently; why do we insist on being used the same way?
I will never lead a movement in India. And you may never get on the Christian Standard megachurch list. But we can all please God with our obedience and hard work. He sees and values all of it—even the websites that never see the light of day.