How can we activate the astonishing power of small churches?
As we’ve already seen in the previous two posts in this series (here and here), over one billion people worship Jesus in small churches tucked into every corner of the globe. What could we possibly do to light the fuse that would allow us to tap into this astonishing potential?
How would we structure it? What should we tell them to do? And who can we call upon to lead it?
We wouldn’t, we shouldn’t and we can’t.
We don’t need to light the fuse. It has been lit already.
This is something God has done. He did it without us creating a plan for it. And he did it mostly without our cooperation.
He did it with many of us fighting it every step of the way – including me, until recently.
The quickest way to kill it would be to put a person, a blue-ribbon panel or (God forbid) a committee in charge of it.
While we’ve been obsessed with building large congregations, God has been planting small churches like spiritual seeds in thirsty ground, into every possible furrow on earth. Alongside our big church brothers and sisters, not competing with them.
We’ve only begun to recognize this phenomenon, let alone appreciate or utilize it.
But there are two principles we can adopt that would help fan this flicker into a flame:
1. Support Small Churches
Small churches need to be
And maybe most of all…
- Noticed for the contributions we make to the kingdom of God
Let’s refuse to buy the lie that size is an accurate measure of the health or strength of a congregation. It’s not. Small churches need our prayers and support, not our condescending ideas about how to “fix” what isn’t wrong.
Let’s encourage, connect and equip innovative small church leaders as each one plays their part in this extraordinary work – starting by recognizing just how extraordinary the work is.
2. Stay Out of God’s Way
Let’s try not to mess up what God is doing this time, shall we?
This is the one concern I have as I work to point out the value of small churches. I pray that, by bringing this extraordinary work of God to light, we won’t be tempted to overstep our place and mess this up by trying to help God out.
The history of the church is filled with examples of our bewildering capacity to mess up what God has started. And the massive flood of small churches throughout the world is definitely something God has started.
Maybe the best thing we can do for small churches is to listen to their pastors, leaders and congregations about how we can work with them.
Learn from them instead of condescending to them.
How Did We Miss This?
The biggest mystery, to my mind at least, is how so many of us have completely missed what God has been doing through small churches.
Not one statistic I’ve mentioned in this series is obscure or even disputed. Not the percentage of large to small churches, the number of people in them, their worldwide spread, or their importance in people’s lives.
But, until I cobbled them all together, I never saw small churches this way. I’m guessing you’d say the same.
I tackle that mystery in my next post, The Astonishing Power of Small Churches: Three Reasons We've Missed This.
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