Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

  • Jim Townsley
  • Jan 21, 2016
In the past, local farmers would incubate their own eggs to produce chickens for meat or eggs.  It was such a common occurrence that every experienced farmer knew not to count on every egg hatching. Optimistically anyone would desire one hundred percent success, but counting on all the eggs to hatch would most likely bring disappointment. Therefore farmers learned not to count their chickens before they hatched. 
This cliche provides a warning that applies to the ministry and it's illustrated by the parable of the sower. The sower sows seed, but not all of the seed germinates, grows, or produces fruit. Some of the seed fell to the way side, much like many people today, and the fowls came and devoured the seed before it could produce fruit. Some of the seed was choked by the thorns just like the world swallows up new prospects and new converts so that they do not grow. In addition, some of the seed fell on stony ground where it quickly sprouted but just as quickly wilted. This is similar to people who initially show great enthusiasm but sadly it is short lived. 
Church planters must be prepared for some of their eggs to not hatch. One common occurrence is a promise by a prospect to be at church the next Sunday, but when Sunday arrives they do not show up, proving that you can't build a church on people's promises. But realizing some eggs do hatch, you must keep working to bring about results. 
Birthing a new church has many disappointments and that should be expected. New church planters usually have two attendance counts: 1. Here's how many we had. 2. Here's how many we would have had if everyone was here. Preachers must accept this reality of our modern society. You can't count on everyone doing what they say they will do.  Every Sunday people will be missing for various reasons. In fact, it seems in the last few years more people are gone more often, and for more reasons. This means that a church with the same number of families, with people gone more frequently, will have a lower attendance. 
When it comes to attendance the greatest setback is discouragement which can be overcome. But when a pastor is counting on people to give toward a building project and they fail to keep their commitments, it can cause serious financial problems. Planning a building project upon projected income can become a dangerous practice. Faith and foolishness often are separated by a thin margin. But failure to truly count the costs can prove fatal especially to a new church.  Past growth does not guarantee future growth. A wise man of God will make plans based on what already exists rather than hoping the future will improve. Constructing a new church building does not always mean that more people will attend your services and join your church. It is always best to take a conservative approach and build based upon the people you already have and hope and work to see the church grow. If the church doesn't grow you still have enough people to make it function properly without going bankrupt. If the church grows it is a windfall and a blessing.
There will be times when people promise to leave a large sum of money to the church through their will or from an insurance settlement. Sometimes these promises are kept and other times they are not. It is important that you not count on anything until the results are there. Many preachers have been extremely disappointed by empty promises and occasionally they made decisions based upon this unexpected income. A good practice for every new church is to follow the farmer's advice, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."