Churches - ministers and congregations - get very hung up with numbers. Constant bombardment with news of decline is depressing and people are always on the look out for a reverse in fortune. "Successful church" is a term which is used to describe those who buck the trend and numerically increase. However, for those not in a "successful" church, such talk can make people both squirm and be envious simultaneously.
We usually get about 15-20 at our Sunday night gathering on campus, and (surprisingly) about the same at our meditative prayer on a Monday. Is this success? How could I measure it? It feels like a good response, I'd love to see more, but how can I know? Is a small group well-engaged with a subject better than a large mass of more passive consumers? Are there any meters I can look at that could tell me of success in ministry?
When I was a parish priest in Coventry, we grew in 8 years from 38 to 46 average Sunday attendance. Hardly spectacular, but at least the graph went up. Those figures hide the fact that at least 18 of the original 38 died in that period, and 4 more moved away. That means we gained over 20 new people. Maybe some churches that look like they are declining are actually bringing in lots of new people; they just aren't currently keeping up with their losses.
Appearances can be deceptive.