Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Numbers Do Not Tell the Whole Story

Written by: on April 25, 2023

Megachurch Introduces Frequent Tither Rewards Card

“NASHVILLE, TN – In a bid to increase giving ahead of the organization’s upcoming $40 million sanctuary expansion, local megachurch LifeJourney Church announced Monday its new frequent tither rewards card, as part of a program designed to incentivize more regular giving to the church.”[1]

The title is meant to cause sensationalism, to evoke a reaction. And it is completely fake. It is a made up story for a satire site, The Babylonian Bee. I know that sites like The Babylonian Bee and The Onion are satire sites with outlandish stories. I read them occasionally and enjoy a good laugh. I have a friend on Facebook, on the other hand, who I have seen post stories from these sites multiple times with shocked comments, believing them to be true. If someone else has not commented, I will usually private message this person and let them know the story is satire, but that does not stop them from posting another similar story at some future date.

I would like to think that I am immune to this kind of misunderstanding, that my ability to interpret fact from fiction is better than my friend. While I may be able to tell the difference between a satire news article and a real story, my understanding of the world is far from accurate.


In his book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better Than You Think, Hans Rosling asks readers to take a short quiz in the introduction. He asks thirteen questions about the state of the world. I got an abysmal two of those thirteen questions correct. Rosling was quick to point out that this is common. He writes, “It is not a question of intelligence. Everyone seems to get the world devastatingly wrong.”[2] He further denotes, “Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless – in short, more dramatic – than it really is.”[3]

 The Single Perspective Instinct

Throughout the rest of the book, Rosling details different ways in which we misinterpret the world and then provides suggestions for factfulness – how to get it right. One reason he discusses is the Single Perspective Instinct. He writes, “Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by only looking at a picture of my feet.” Rosling recommends looking at different viewpoints, not relying upon limited expertise, testing your ideas. He goes on to discuss how numbers can be deceiving. “The numbers will never tell the full story of what life on Earth is all about. The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone.”[4] Numbers paint only a partial picture.

The Church and Numbers

Have you ever had to fill out a report for ministry? I have filled out various reports for events such as small groups, Vacation Bible School, special events, and Sunday service information. Invariably, these reports ask questions as:

  • Number of attendees
  • Number of salvations
  • Number of baptisms
  • Number of baptism in the Spirit
  • Number of healings
  • Tithe/offering collected

How many of this? How many of that? There is a large focus on numbers in the church, but as Rosling said, numbers do not tell the whole story. I can tell you that two other women attended my zoom Bible study on Sunday morning, but that does not tell you that one of those women is a lifelong friend of mine who attends our church from Ohio and asked to be put on our email list. It does not tell you about how she shared that she is not interested in the churches in her area because they have a negative approach to mental illness and her sister was bipolar and died from it over a decade ago. It does not tell you that in all the years I have known her, I have never known her to attend church until now. The number three does not tell you about the other woman and how she shared what God is doing in her life or how the three of us prayed for one another and built relationship.


Taking the quiz at beginning of this book challenged me. The quiz is not just about the numbers, about the facts and statistics, just as a church ministry report is about more than the numbers. It is about how we view the world. It reminded me that, although I may have come far from the worldview of my childhood, I have farther yet to go. I have more to learn.

[1] “Megachurch Introduces Frequent Tither Rewards Card,” The Babylon Bee, Februry 26, 2018, https://babylonbee.com/news/megachurch-introduces-frequent-tither-rewards-card.

[2] Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better Than You Think. (New York: Flatiron Books, 2018), pg. 9.

[3] Rosling. pg. 9.

[4] Rosling, pg. 192

About the Author


Becca Hald

Becca is an ordained Foursquare minister, serving as the Online Community Pastor at Shepherd's House Church. She has over twenty-five years of leadership experience both inside and outside the church. Becca has served her community in many capacities ranging from Administrative Assistant and Children’s Ministry Director to Secretary and President of multiple school organizations. She and her husband, Andrew have been married for over 25 years. They have two adult children, Drew and Evelyn. Her great passion is to equip others, to raise awareness about mental health, and to help reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues. In her free time, she loves going to Disneyland, reading, sewing, and making cards.

10 responses to “Numbers Do Not Tell the Whole Story”

  1. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Hi Becca,
    You got me with that opening piece “Frequent Tither Card”…then I was wondering what the incentives might be!
    I love that you point out that there is a story behind the numbers. We get the sacred invitation to know many of these stories and that is the beautiful part of the job we do. We get to journey by someone who finds a safe-place in our corner of ministry and that is a sacred thing.

  2. Tonette Kellett says:


    I always enjoy your posts, and love that you try to embed images or other media in them. It makes them more fascinating. The frequent tither card was terrific!

    I too still have a ways to go from my childhood worldview. We are works in progress until we pass, I believe.

  3. Becca, I love the way you opened! What a fun story, although for satire later in your post you remind us that the church can fall into some of these traps around numbers meaning success. This is a hard things to wrestle with as church leaders. I love to take my congregation back to the stories, the transformation stories, of lives that are impacted by the work we do. Stories are so powerful. Thanks for sharing a story with us!

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      Thank you Sara. It is sad to me how many churches fall into the trap of focusing on the numbers. We try to recreate someone else’s success forgetting that God did not call us to someone else’s ministry. Stories are so important and powerful. We are drawn to stories. One of my professors in grad school, Dr. Phil Cooke, taught us that the most successful businesses do not sell a product, they sell a story.

  4. mm Audrey Robinson says:

    I enjoyed reading your post.

    The point you brought out about the church report is a sad commentary. I’ve had to complete similar reports and now I realize why I dread them so much. Is that all our Church leadership is interested in?

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      I agree Audrey. It is hard to get past looking at the numbers. I loved the way my pastor had us write reports for an event we did years ago. The report asked for the numbers, but then asked for the testimonies of the event. Sharing the testimonies gives such a beautiful picture of the real value of an event.

  5. mm Daron George says:

    “I would like to think that I am immune to this kind of misunderstanding, that my ability to interpret fact from fiction is better than my friend. While I may be able to tell the difference between a satire news article and a real story, my understanding of the world is far from accurate.” I find myself in the same boat. I would like to think I am able to understand the world from an accurate point of view but the more I learn the more I understand that I have so much more to learn.

  6. Kristy Newport says:

    I am agreeing with my fellow cohort collegues.
    I enjoyed your post and needing to humbly agree with Deron in his comments above.
    Thanks for wanting to focus on the context/story behind the numbers!

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