All of that made me wonder why we so constantly judge a preacher or teacher's efforts by the numbers. Is it really fair, when his part is to plant or water? If you want to count the numbers, you should be counting how many he preached to, not how many times the water splashed. That's what the inspired writer Paul said.
Sometimes you can teach your heart out only to see a class steadily shrink in size. You can invite everyone in your neighborhood to come hear the gospel, knock on doors until your knuckles chafe, and speak to every waiter, cashier, or repairman, and never see any of them show up on Sunday morning. If you planted the seed, you did what you were supposed to do. Sometimes it takes a while to sprout. In fact, you may not live long enough to see those tiny green leaves push up through the ground. Sometimes that's just the way it works.
We must stop judging by the numbers, by how many have been baptized and how much the membership has grown numerically. There may well be other growth going on that is not quite so obvious but healthy for the kingdom just the same. When we do judge by numerical results, just who are we judging? I think the Book says we are judging God. After all, He is the one who gives the increase. I am not real sure I would want to be standing in those shoes!
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isa 55:10-11).