Mark’s sermon on seeds last weekend touched on the idea of influence and statistics (quite a rare combination, in my experience!) When discussing the parable of the sower, he said that a pessimist (generally speaking, that’s me!) sees the ‘results’ of this parable in terms of failure, since only one of the four seeds planted actually bears fruit and in today’s society, a 25% ‘success rate’ is not considered worthwhile. However, he went on to point out that that one seed that falls on good soil bears fruit ‘a hundred fold’, so we could say that the success rate of the original seed is 101, which seems a much better perspective! He went on to say that we never really know what fruit our seeds will bear; if it’s our testimony that leads to an evangelist coming to know God and that evangelist then speaks the word that brings many others to faith, our influence has been much greater than we might otherwise think from the bare ‘statistics’.

I’ve been meditating on that thought all week. I agree that influence is hard to quantify and that our influence is often far greater than we realise. For example, I write this blog primarily for church members, especially those who are not able to actually get to certain meetings, and as a historical record of all that God is doing in and through Goldthorpe Pentecostal Community Church (and because I love writing, if I’m honest!) But recently I noticed that one of the blog’s followers is a Brazilian (hello!) and Dave pointed out that if you clicked on the globe on the blog, you discover where in the world people are reading these words. Amazingly, 26% of readers are American! The blog has been viewed from an astounding (!) 89 countries, including Senegal, Qatar, Tunisia, Oman and Yemen. Frankly, I’m completely stunned by that fact. I have absolutely no idea why people from these countries have viewed the blog, how they got to see it, or who they are. For some of the countries, I do know people who may be reading it (Steve & Katuska in Mozambique, for example). But overall, the blog is able to reach people far beyond my own capabilities. On the ‘Statistics’ page of the blog, there is a map of the world with areas shaded green that have viewed the blog and it’s stunning to see so many green areas! I know that 27% of people who’ve viewed the blog use Chrome as their web browser, 25% use Firefox (as I do), 17% use Internet Explorer and 7% use Safari (not to mention some others I’ve never even heard of!) Most people, apparently, find the blog either from the church website or via Google. In the last month, there were over 1000 views of the blog and contrary to my son’s belief, they weren’t all from me!

All in all, I think this backs up Mark’s point. Our influence can be much greater than we think or realise. We often feel insignificant and unimportant and as though our lives for God don’t really amount to much. Most of us won’t get our names in the history books. Most of us won’t be famous evangelists like Billy Graham or Luis Palau or famous worship leaders like Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman. Most of us will serve God faithfully in our locality and will maybe feel that our lives are not really shaping history. I would argue that we only think that way because we are viewing things from a limited perspective and can only see with our natural eyes right now. Jesus urged us to ‘store up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matt 6:20 TNIV) and if we serve God faithfully in this life, we may well be surprised to find how far our influence has spread when we reach heaven.