Great ideas are disruptive.
They don’t follow common wisdom.
But after you hear them, you often think, “of course! How did I not see that all along?”
In church leadership today, there’s no more common wisdom than this: if your church is not increasing in size, it’s stuck. And if you want to do effective, influential ministry, you have to get bigger. (Or, maybe more accurately, if you are doing effective, influential ministry, you will get bigger.)
Here’s the disruptive, counterintuitive truth about that. Churches don’t need to get bigger to do great ministry. And, for many churches, being small is an important ingredient in why they’re doing great ministry.
Sometimes Bigger Is Just Bigger
Church growth is great, but it’s not necessarily a disruptive truth. Sometimes, it just means bigger.
Often it’s more of the same thing.
And if we’re relentlessly chasing after more, it tends to blind us to the reality that nothing may be changing or getting better, just getting bigger.
Ask The Right Questions
Take a look at the church leaders who get the greatest amount of attention. The ones you’ve been trying to emulate. What have they actually done? Is it truly transformative? Or is it just more? Is it just bigger?
Often it’s both. But not always.
Then assess your own ministry in the same way. After all, if we’re asking for transformative ministry from others, we have to start at home. It’s not fair to complain about a lack of transformative ministry in the church at large if we’re not doing something transformative ourselves.
For a lot of us, it may also be helpful to ask the question in reverse. Instead of asking “has my ministry been transformative, or just bigger?” we may need to ask “is my ministry being transformative, even though it’s staying small?”
If so, it may not need to get bigger. If not, getting bigger won’t change anything. Size doesn’t transform lives, only transformative, disruptive truth does that.
A Small, But Disruptive Truth
Numerical success isn’t a disruptive truth. It doesn’t challenge the status quo. Not on its own. In fact, it often reinforces doing business as usual.
Sure, it’s noticeable. It’s exciting. And it’s often a byproduct of health and effectiveness.
But that’s all it is. A byproduct. On its own, numerical growth doesn’t cause transformation, nor is it a sign of transformative ministry.
Disruptive truth is always transformative. But it’s not always noticeably so. The numbers aren’t always there to quantify it.
Because we can only measure what we understand, and disruptive, transformative ministry is not understandable. Not at first, anyway.
Transformative ministry usually starts in small batches. In individual lives. Step by step, not leap by leap.
One life at a time. Over a long time.
One Person At A Time
The gospel changes individuals. Eventually it changes cultures, structures and societies. But that’s not the way it looks day by day.
On a daily basis, the gospel of Jesus brings disruptive, transformative, life-giving truth into the simple lives of ordinary people.
One person at a time.
One family at a time.
One church at a time.
It makes lives and churches better. Not necessarily bigger.
But it changes everything along the way.
Not just for now, but for the long term. For eternity.
There’s no bigger, more disruptive, more transformational truth than that.
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