The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. Deut. 7:7
Our numbers are not as small as many allege; and yet that is not really what makes anyone valid or invalid. Size should neither impress nor should smallness of numbers provoke derision.
Size matters to those who want to Stand Firm, even though it means that future colors for vestments may have to be pink and blue instead of seasonal, to tell the guy-priests from the gal-priests. And, to think: C.S. Lewis said that priestesses would make the Church less like a ball. Already, we are told, that the ACNA outnumbers the American portion of the Continuum; so, we ought to just fold on many important issues, except for homosex! and join the big party. Critics want to know why Archbishop Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) would not even attend the ACNA bash in Bedford Texas (as if he had not made all his reasons perfectly clear). One thing should be quite obvious: The presence of the Archbishop of the ACC would be interpreted as endorsement, and as a sign of full sacramental communion with a church body that "ordains" women. He just does not seem to be impressed by the big numbers.
On the One Two True side, size matters because they have it. This explains their boldness and daring. Also, size matters to them because they still cannot grasp the fact that we do not think the same way they do about the Church. They bewail our manifest heresy (in their eyes) called the Branch theory, because, obviously, if the Church is one Church, it cannot possibly be divided. In their thinking, this means that it must be unified politically, as in being joined by one earthly polity with one HQ. To them the Church is visible only insofar as it is reduced to a theory of Universal jurisdiction, reduced to a legal and juridical system; not visible in that people may actually see it and experience it.
Here we may once again refer to the Articles.
XIX. Of the Church. The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
In practice, and in the only sort of experience human beings can appreciate and benefit from, the Church can be visible only insofar as it is local, and only insofar as it is faithful. The Roman theory of Universal Jurisdiction is not very helpful, or self-evident, outside of the city of Rome itself; it is not a guarantee of faithfulness. American Roman Catholicism, on average, is as dangerous to the soul as is the Episcopal Church; and the two are barely distinguishable. I am glad that Pope Benedict XVI is orthodox; but, that has very little effect, even now, in the United States (and the same may be said for many other countries). However, where the Church may be perceived for its faithfulness to Christ, it is visible, and visibly different from the world. As Anglicans, we are glad whenever and wherever that may be; whether among Roman Catholics, among the Orthodox or among us.
To understand one very important Biblical picture of the Church, we must see Apostolic Succession in terms of the Apostolic fellowship taught by St. John, fellowship that comes from the Incarnation of the Word:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. I John 1:1-4
Where the local Church is faithful this fellowship is to be found. Where the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments are duly administered, the Church is visible. Without these elements, whatever may appear is not visible as the Church; it cannot be the agent of the kingdom of God and of His salvation. In our ecclesiology, there is no room for competition against any church that communicates and makes visible the life of Christ. No juridical theory or legal consideration is a pastoral and evangelistic substitute for the visible Church. People can see it, or they cannot.
Compared to the reality of the Church in these essential manifestations, numbers count for nothing.