Small Does Not Mean Stagnant

The Small Church Pastor has to hide from the barrage of voices telling him that he’s really not doing enough. The unspoken assumption is that if it’s small it must be stagnant. The Small Church is not dead! It comprises the largest percentage of congregations in America and world-wide. However, that truth does not stop the marketing of Big is Better.
The calls come from the well-meaning evangelists of Big Church USA. Sometimes words aren’t spoken. A look is leveled, a pause in conversation, or a tightening of the body language communicates a message of dissatisfaction. The meaning is clear. If you really loved the Lord and did things the right way (i.e our way) you’d be growing and prospering.
This “Gospel of Growth” is based partly on the assumption that the Bible commands us to grow numerically. I don’t disagree with growth neither numerically nor spiritually. I do disagree with someone outside of my congregation establishing an amount of growth for me. The evangelists of Big Church USA extol now much their church has grown and look down their noses at the “few,” according to them, additions the small membership congregation has experienced.
They can never show me the passage in the New Testament or the Old Testament that outlines a number or an amount or even suggests a percentage. They never entertain me with a fore-shadow from Exodus or a parable from Matthew that points to how much my small congregation should grow. No, these circuit riders stay far away from Acts 2:46 – 47 which is a perfect picture of the small church in the New Testament. They can’t show me “how much” because the Lord is in control of all of the “how muches,” even theirs. He sets the limits and does the math.
The other part of the “Gospel of Growth” is based on a contemporary business model. This template works so well for manufacturing and selling widgets that Big Church USA has swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Quarterly goals are set and targets mapped out which must be achieved. Once reached, new goals are laid out and old targets are discarded. It reminds me of Dr. Seuss’ story, The Zax. Listen to one of the Zax’s opening statements. “Look here now!” the North-Going Zax said. “I say! You are blocking my path. You are right in my way. I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north. Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!” The Zax in his story are so focused on the grove in which they are walking that they can not see anything else, think anything else, or be anything else. But what happens when they reach their destination? What have they missed and who have they missed?
This focus on numbers and increase is myopic. We will end up having missed the Lord along the way. He is our focus. He can handle the numbers part. It’s our job to trust Him and not to get caught up in the latest model of growth to come sweeping through from the BCUSA.

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