God’s Book And Guiness’s

On a stormy Sunday morning we were visiting a little church at land’s end—literally—on the Oregon coast. The minister began to pray, “Here we are, a group of little people, way out on the edge of nowhere … with Thy Word.”

Little flock, little pastor, little people. Little at any time, but especially at the end of the big seventies.

Today’s catchword is growth, church growth. A church that stays the same size (unless it is already enormous, I suppose) is perceived as failure.

The church is called the “household of God” (Eph. 2:19), the “family” of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:15). Members are called brothers and sisters. So we have a New Testament parallel between church and family.

Is it stretching that parallel to suggest that procreation is not the only function, or the determining test for success, in the family? No, the family normally enjoys times of birth, of growth. But for long periods of time it does not, its reason for being is other than increasing in size.

Bringing children into the Kingdom as well as into the world, nurturing them, training them to make decisions and cope with a wide range of problems, nursing them through physical, emotional and spiritual illnesses: these are worthy functions of any family even during periods when it remains constant in size.

A family with twelve members isn’t better or more successful than one with four. It may just be noisier.

Back to Oregon. I guess what impressed me most was that pastor’s qualifying statement, “with Thy Word.” Where God’s Word is believed and taught, any church is big—big enough for God, if not for Guiness.


Dividing Lines

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