My shortest answer would be this: Numbers represent people. In the Great Commission, our Lord gives us a mandate to reach all nations. This means groups of people.
Furthermore, the Bible makes extensive use of numbers, such as:
* promising that “where two or three are gathered” in Christ’s name, He is in the midst of them (Matt. 18).
* that three disciples went with Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9).
* that eight were saved on Noah’s Ark from the Flood (1 Peter 3).
* that 12 apostles were called by Jesus (Matt. 10).
* that more than 500 witnesses saw the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15).
* that about 3,000 souls were saved on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
* that multitudes of 5,000 (Matt. 14) and 4,000 (Matt. 15) were miraculously fed by Jesus.
* that there is one God (Deut. 6) and that He is three in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 1, Matthew 28).
These are only a few crucial examples of numbers included in Scripture.
Reporting numbers on the Annual Church Profile allows us to know more about how to pray through rejoicing and intercession for our fellow Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists:
(1) We rejoice in prayer for those places and ministry categories in which God is giving an increase (1 Cor. 1).
(2) We should intercede in prayer for places where more God-sent laborers are needed to work in His harvest (Matt. 9).
Let me say a word of appreciation to each church clerk, associational clerk and others who provide a detailed and often tedious labor of love through faithful and accurate reporting through the Annual Church Profile.
Your labor, like any work for the Lord, is not in vain (1 Cor. 15) and is much appreciated by your state missionaries, associational missionaries and numerous Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists.