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FIRST-PERSON: Numbers matter

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Lance is executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

PRATTVILLE, Ala. (BP) — Why is the Annual Church Profile important?

A short answer regarding the gathering of data from our churches on baptisms, discipleship and stewardship would be this: Numbers represent people.

In the Great Commission, our Lord gives us a mandate to reach all nations. This means groups of people.

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Furthermore, the Bible makes extensive use of numbers, such as:

— promising that “where two or three are gathered” in Christ’s name, He is in the midst of them (Matthew 18).

— that three disciples went with Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9).

— that eight were saved on Noah’s Ark from the Flood (1 Peter 3).

— that 12 apostles were called by Jesus (Matthew 10).

— that more than 500 witnesses saw the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15).

— that about 3,000 souls were saved on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

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— that multitudes of 5,000 (Matthew 14) and 4,000 (Matthew 15) were miraculously fed by Jesus.

— that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6) and that He is three in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 1, Matthew 28).

These are only a few examples of key numbers included in Scripture.

The ACP numbers provide a unique glimpse at the eternal impact churches are making for the Lord in sharing His Gospel and seeing souls come to Christ through baptism and participation in a variety of activities worthy of His disciples.

Reporting numbers on the Annual Church Profile allows us to know more about how to pray through rejoicing and intercession for our fellow Baptists here in Alabama and across the country:

(1) We rejoice in prayer for those places and ministry categories in which God is giving an increase (1 Corinthians 1).

(2) We should intercede in prayer for places where more God-sent laborers are needed to work in His harvest (Matthew 9).

Let me say a word of appreciation to each church clerk, associational clerk and others who provide a detailed and often tedious labor of love through faithful and accurate reporting through the Annual Church Profile.

Your Kingdom labor, like any work for the Lord, is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15).