The Endlessly Fascinating Microbiology Of Small Church Ministry
Small churches are to megachurches as microbiology is to astronomy. One is small, one is huge, both have value.

When you love something, there's always more to discover in it. That was the essence of a conversation I had recently about the value of small church ministry.

It began with a question.

"What you're doing with small churches is great, but won't you have to expand your vision at some point? I mean, how much more is there to say or learn about small churches?"

The question was conversational, not confrontational, so I replied just as conversationally with the following:

"How much is there to learn about small churches? I don't know. How much is there to learn about microbiology?

“Just because microbiologists limit their study to small organisms doesn't mean they'll run out of valuable principles to discover, unexpected ideas to apply, or new ways their work can bless humanity. In fact, they don’t weaken their contribution to science by narrowing their focus, they strengthen it. When we narrow our field of study we can go deeper and get more out of it. For us and others.

When we narrow our field of study we can go deeper and get more out of it.

“The same thing happens in a small church when the pastor and the people can invest more deeply in each other.

“Astronomy isn’t a bigger or better field of study than microbiology. It’s just about physically larger objects.

“In the same way, church growth isn’t a bigger or better field of study than small church ministry. It’s just about numerically larger churches.”

Lots More Small Church Ministry To Do

"By the way, has anyone ever asked that question of those who study or minister in megachurches? I doubt it. So why do we ask it about small churches? Both types of ministry are endlessly fascinating and valuable.

“A small church pastor – or a student of small church ministry – doesn't need to move up the ladder to a big church any more than a microbiologist needs to move up the ladder to astronomy. Because there’s no ladder. Just two equally valuable fields of study and ministry.

"That's not to say that small churches can't or shouldn't grow. This is where the analogy breaks down – as all analogies do. Unlike atoms, which can't become galaxies, small churches often can and do become large, even megachurches.

"But there will always be other small churches being birthed and many small churches that never become big. And they'll always have great ministry to do."

Big, Small and Deep

Actually, my wording that day wasn't quite so well-formed. It took about 20 minutes of conversation for all that to come out. With some great contributions from my conversational partner.

But after it all came out, I was grateful. For the question. For the conversation. For the opportunity it gave me to think a little deeper. And for all the great small churches, pastors and ministries that work together to discover and share more creative ways to minister every day.

Keep working, learning and ministering where God has placed you.

Big or small, you can always go deeper.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

July 14, 2017 at 6:54 AM

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