A Reason that Counts

What biblical model do we follow for counting Sabbath School attendees? This question surfaces in church settings when challenges are faced. Is numbering an essential element for the Sabbath School for this millennium? Without question!

The inspired record does not neglect the numbering of people. A look in Genesis 46 not only informs one that Jacob is taking his entire family to Egypt, but we learn that 66 direct descendants completed the trip with him. In fewer than 20 Bible pages and in about 430 years, that same family, leaves Egypt—about 600,000 men on foot plus women and children (Exodus 12:37).

Of first importance to God in the book of Numbers is the statistical recording of the tribes of Israel. The numbering of people is mentioned during the reign of King David and after the Babylonian captivity in the book of Ezra, yet once again in the context of the names of households.

We All Count 

Everyone is important in God’s records of accountability. Let’s also consider the only miracle story found in all four Gospels, the feeding of a huge crowd by Jesus using a little lad’s lunch. Omit all the numbers. Is it enough to know that barley buns and fish were the menu items that were served without knowing how many of each? Is your curiosity satisfied to know that it fed a large number of men besides women and children? Or does the specific number increase your interest? What difference does it make to you to know the exact number of baskets of leftovers that were collected and distributed as recycled blessings? 

If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word, then we know that including the numbers must have significance.

I hope you have caught the point. Numbers play a significant role in God’s record of His dealings with the human family and His church in particular.

Modern Records

Why is the numbering of people an important responsibility in 2003? Sabbath School is the essential nurturing agency of every local church. The secretary’s attendance records direct the Sabbath School Council in its order of periodicals. In turn ordering sufficient supplies supports the adequate nurture of every age level. 

The growth of the church is affected by wise supervision of the Sabbath School as an evangelistic agency and proper use of information from its records and reports. Does anyone within the local church care about the numbers of unbaptized Sabbath School members? Yes!

Have we become so desensitized by the constant bombardment of impersonal numbers from news media sources that numbers of people matter only for the sake of reporting? No!

Do those numbers represent real people with potential for citizenship in God’s kingdom and membership in the local church? Yes!

Let’s continue the art of numbering. Let’s do it with specific purpose.

Encourage and commend your Sabbath School secretary for keeping accurate records. This sometimes tedious, time-consuming, and too often little-appreciated work must be recognized for its true value. Sabbath School census takers are in the ranks of Moses, the first divinely assigned census taker. Be humbled by how essential and meaningful this work can be to the kingdom of heaven and in the growth and prosperity of both your Sabbath School and your church.

Paul Pellandini
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists