Quantity is Job 1

June 15, 2006 by

This is part eight in a continuing series, Is Church Growth the Highway to Hell?

Quantity is Job 1. That’s the title of one of my favorite albums from the now-defunct ska band Five Iron Frenzy. The 17-track EP included the rousing “These Are Not My Pants” rock opera, eight dizzying songs in eight different styles. Quantity is Job 1 also included the live show favorite, “When I Go Out,” which clocks in at under 10 seconds.

I think this is one of the biggest complaints when we talk about church growth and numbers. Quantity somehow crushes quality, as if the two are mutually exclusive. They’re not. This was Rick Warren’s third myth about large churches. He argued that the two feed on one another. A quality church attracts quantity, and quantity in a church results in having more qualified people to contribute.

Despite its focus on quantity, Quantity is Job 1 is still one of my favorite albums. It exemplifies Fire Iron’s goofiness, but also their depth with songs like “Dandelions.” I liked the song so much I used it as the inscription for my novel.

Quantity + Quality
When we talk about numbers and church growth let’s be clear that it’s not a ‘my church is bigger than your church’ contest. It’s not about comparison. Different communities, different approaches, different goals—the numbers simply won’t compare.

It’s also not a bigger is better party. Large churches are not better than small churches. We do want to see the church get bigger, but the goal is people coming to Christ, not turning every church into a mega-church.

God counted the soldiers in Gideon’s army, but then continually cut the numbers in half. Bigger is not always better. Seth Godin says small is the new big. It’s about quality as much as it’s about quantity.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

4 Responses to “Quantity is Job 1”

  • skuhn
    June 15, 2006

    I agree that a quality church will attract quantity…but quality and quantity outside of God mean nothing. Afterall, one could argue that the size of the Mormon church and its continued growth is evidence of quality (I mean have your heard their choir?) but that doesn’t mean that they are being blessed by God.

     | Permalink
  • Dan
    June 15, 2006

    Quality probably refers to the message as well.

     | Permalink
  • Greg Marquez
    June 15, 2006

    Just a few thoughts on this subject.
    Here’s how an economist might analyze the church growth question based on the law of supply and demand.
    All other things being equal, i.e. if both churches are identical in their facilities, location, doctrine and other attributes: if you lower the cost of going to church you will have more people go to church. If you raise the cost of going to church you will have less people going to church.
    All other things being equal: The church with the shorter service will get more people.
    All other things being equal: The church that requires less of its members will get more people.
    All other things being equal: The church that expects less of its members will get more people.
    (I’ve always had the thought that the best way to get a good crowd on Sunday mornings is to open a really good brunch buffet and just call it church. You could go with an emergent type of name like The Sunday Brunch Gathering. I think for the same amount of effort most pastors are putting in they could get a much bigger crowd that way.)
    The real issue is: Can you lower the cost of going to church and still produce a good product?
    One of the things that makes the analysis a little confusing is determining what our product is? It’s hard to know what our product is because we don’t know who our customer is. Are the people our customer or is God our customer? Is it possible to please the people and not please God? Is it possible to grow a large “church” and not be at all pleasing to God? Is it possible to do what is pleasing to God and still not have a large “church”? One thing is certain, having a large church certainly will make you more successful in the eyes of the world.
    What metrics does God use in judging our performance? Part of the problem with that question is that it depends on your theology. I’m of the branch that believes the metric is this:
    Ephesians 4:11-13 “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
    So according to that metric whether or not your church is successful depends on the extent to which your church has approached, “…the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
    Greg Marquez

     | Permalink
  • Greg Marquez
    June 15, 2006

    Also check out my nephew’s skaa band, here:

     | Permalink

Think Ahead