Small churches, not small people
I’ve been doing some reading on church growth recently. You have to filter out a lot of information to get some useful material. Things like attractional v. missional approaches to church, incarnational ministry, and 10 principles to remember for having a relevant church service and another 7 ways you can to do this, that or the other, etc. al infinitum.
It can be overwhelming, and other pastors like myself find it hard to remain focused on Kingdom concerns when you’re preoccupied with church things. When asked what he didn’t like about his work, one pastor commented, “I don’t like church work.” I think he was referring to the day to day administrative duties and pressures related to his position.
Well, I don’t hate church work necessarily and I do in fact love and care for the people in our church family. It’s not something I have to do, it’s something that I get to do.
I’ve been thinking about this whole ministry deal in terms of process and growth, sometimes it occurs in imperceptible ways over time and then suddenly someone is ready for a faith commitment. That’s what I love to see and be a part of.
Many churches struggle with their own significance, and a lot of that has to do with their size or how many people fill pews for one hour a week in the building. I don’t want to minimize the importance of that, because it is vital to gather and not “forsake the assembling of yourselves to worship.” But, a more significant part of church is changing the community around them. A lot of time is spent on how the church needs to change, and it really does. However, the reason for churches to change is to be better able to change their world. Sometimes churches underestimate the influence they could have simply because they look at last week worship numbers.
Margaret Mead wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
It’s not the large herd of people that necessarily brings about change, but a few passionate souls who are committed to their work and excited about the possibilities. I believe that is what our churches need in changing our communities, and continue to pray in that direction. There is significance to small things, and I hope that our collective efforts will make difference to the people around us.
Discouragement is a powerful force, and dealing with disappointment can wear anyone down. That’s why it’s so encouraging to find a few people who are excited about what they are doing and making a difference, because “it’s the only thing that ever has.”