i’ve given myself 15 minutes for this post so excuse me for the choppiness. many in the church, including myself, don’t quite know how to thoughtfully integrate the subject of ‘numbers’ into conversations. the pastoral staff and i have never once spoken about how to increase the numbers at quest. that’s why some recent criticism that i ‘only seem to care about numbers’ sting a little more than the other stuff i find in my inbox. but isn’t it fair to say that numbers should absolutely matter but that numbers can grow to become an idolatrous obsession? geez, that’s another post and i only have 14 minutes now.
let me admit that i take occasional peeks at the number of hits i get on the blog…isn’t that ok? we create, write, post, paint, compose, and engage in other acts of creative bursts – not simply for our own pleasure but also for the purpose of sharing with others. and that’s good, right? i guess the danger is when we allow the love of attention, hits, traffic, numbers, and such to influence us so much that it begins to taint, diminish, and compromise the actual process and product of what is created. heck, i can easily post on the usual hot topics like driscoll, rob bell, and tim keller to get instant traffic in the christian blogosphere. i read recently about a pastor in NC who wrote a post (ironically criticizing technorati) that basically thrusted him to the #1 most searched item in technorati – even ahead of paris hilton. go figure.
who doesn’t like traffic and hits? so, how does that influence what we share? what we create? how does that influence our motivation? how does that influence church and ministry? is it possible that we begin to be mostly inclined towards subjects, sermons, and programs that we know will draw people back and build the numbers? crap, now i only have 9 minutes.
couple weeks ago, i looked over my ‘most viewed posts’ and they included pastoral health, significant highlight of ministry, stupid emerging church, and blah blah blah. what was most interesting was the least read post. any guesses? it was the post entitled, prayer for the nation and people of burma. specifically, 54 hits on that post. the lowest by far. that’s in comparison to an average of about 800-900 hits on the posts i referenced above. for goodness sakes, the casual post entitled, pho shizzle, got more hits in the first half day.
since we can all yield to the temptation of numbers, hits, and traffic – i wonder if churches (quest included) tend to avoid the topics that don’t necessarily encourage, affirm, and make people feel fuzzy all around. it’s easy to avoid the conversations of racism, sexism, socio-economics, poverty, homelessness, genocide, pornography, mental health, and yes, subjects like what’s going on in burma. would you do me a favor and read that post about burma?
couple hours ago, i received an email from a friend who’s working as a community development missionary in thailand. he joined a group of us that trekked into burma from mae sot, thailand. we specifically visited a village called the 101 battalion. i met many wonderful men, women, and children in my day visit and had the privilege of preaching at a church service. the village was attacked yesterday by the burma army. the report from free burma rangers:
Report Summary: On 7 April 2007, at midnight, the Burma Army, along with the DKBA launched a series of attacks against the Karen (KNU) along the Thai-Burma border north of Mae Sot. The attacks proceeded through the 8th and are ongoing as of 9 April 2007.
On 7 April 2007, at midnight, the Burma Army, along with the DKBA launched a series of attacks against the Karen (KNU) along the Thai-Burma border north of Mae Sot. The attacks proceeded through the 8th and are ongoing as of 9 April 2007. Eight columns from at least three Burma Army battalions (355, 356, and 357) are involved in the attack. They are accompanied by two columns of DKBA Battalion 999, commanded by Chit Tu, and one element under ex-KNU 7th Brigade commander Htin Maung (who has made a personal alliance with the dictators’ army). The attacks occurred from south to north targeting villages and KNU positions along the River. On the 8th, two columns hit KNLA 101 battalion area at The Law They Hta twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. Also in the evening, the Burma Army attacked Thay Kai Yah, an IDP site.
The villagers had heard of the coming attack and had fled to the Thai side the day before (on 7 April 2007)…In support of these attacks, the Burma Army is using 81mm and 60mm mortars and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.These attacks have displaced more than 130 Karen families, who have all fled to the Thai side of the border. An estimated 30 families fled from Loh Di Tah, 50 families from Thay Kai Yah, 30 families from Tha Koh Klah, along with 20 more families from areas near the fighting. These numbers are low estimates and may still increase because of continuing attacks.
i’m very saddened as i read this report. there’s horrible stuff going on all around the world – even stuff in our own back yards. while traffic, hits, church growth and attendance, and numbers have a legitimate place in the conversation, i think the bottom line is very simple. we’re all going to die – hopefully later than sooner. so, let’s make a difference. we’ve got one life. if you have the stomach, you can view some pictures of another recent attack.
the read on google earth and darfur is another compelling read.