Measuring fruit can be quite a chore, with so many different kinds of fruit. What I mean is – you can’t measure the size of an apple and say it’s good just because it’s bigger than its neighbor… So the same is true when measuring ministry, and our peers in our Church families.
The New Testament makes it clear that we each have different gifts and abilities, multiple times. We should do our best to encourage these abilities, as Paul says in Romans 12, if you are an encourager, encourage, if you are gifted in generosity, than give, and etc, etc…
So, why do we tend to measure success by mere numbers? Numbers are easily understood, they reflect a certain about of truth. Yet we also must keep in mind we are dealing with God, who provides when the numbers don’t show up. If he orders it, he will pay for it. So when we are dealing with the fruit of a ministry, and trying to determine if a ministry is “growing” the mere numbers matter, but we must also look at the character of the fruit, does it taste good? We can have 1000s of apples, but if they are all sour, have no character, than it’s a bad crop. A bad crop won’t reproduce and will ultimately die. A small crop of good fruit will die without proper nurishment.
So as I move forward into what I know God has called my bride and I, I strive to taste the fruit, making sure it is good. If the numbers are small but the fruit is good, it is good, but if the numbers of good tasting fruit reproduce themselves, it is best.