Last week I wrote an article reflecting on what I learnt from a course I took at Malyon, ‘Leading the Small Church’. Namely, that small churches have the unique opportunity to leverage authentic relationships, establish a godly culture and to remember the rich historical legacy of the church.
Another idea that gripped me was that God favours small things. To consider the whole bible, it tends that God has a bias for small beginnings and individuals, see, a small family with the patriarch Abram from Ur (Gen 12:1). Again and again we read of God’s commitment to a small insignificant people, “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors” (Duet 7:7-8). For even ten righteous people remaining in Sodom and Gomorrah was enough. What about, “Where two or more are gathered there I am” (Matt 18:20), or the widow offering all she had, and the little boy with his few loaves of bread and fish. The smallest seed, the mustard seed, is compared to the beginnings of the kingdom of God. The smallest sparrows are looked after by their Creator. Even Christ came as a small, weak, vulnerable baby. Really, the small are weak and vulnerable. Here, there is an increased awareness of need, insignificance, and depravity… for faith flourishes in the extremity. So, I guess it is okay to be a small church. It is okay to accept that we are a small church because we are still favoured by God.
I don’t know if you wish we were bigger, or if we had more things going on, or more young people around. I do too, but I’m coming to believe that those wishes can’t be my motivation in seeing young adults coming to Christ. So then, what is? What really stood out to me during the course was, “health is better rather than numerical size”. Healthy is always better. So rather than fixating on numbers and wishes, perhaps our thoughts should go to how can we continue and improve the health of our church. If size isn’t a good place to measure success, maybe our maturation in Christ can be a measuring tool. I was talking to Chris Brown last Sunday and he commented we can leverage our ‘smallness’ to foster rich, authentic, intergenerational relationships as the place of our spiritual development. To me, it makes sense that focusing on each others spiritual development will create and sustain a healthy church. Because of our size, we have a unique opportunity to engage in intergenerational discipleship and encourage each other! I remember the words of Paul in Romans 1:11-12, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
So I pray this week we can reflect on how we are consciously or subconsciously evaluating the “success” of our church. Are we harbouring resentment when we compare our church to others? Do numbers worry us? Where are we in our faith, do we need to come alongside someone for encouragement? Perhaps we can approach someone to meet regularly, pray and seek God together, or approach a youth and offer to disciple them. In God’s grace, he has made us this size for a reason. While we are small, we are the perfect size church for God’s plans and purposes today.