Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Call to Keep Things Small?

Have you read Bishop Wililmon's 'procacative' piece for Ministry Matters "The Truth About Small Churches"?  You should.  I'll pause while you follow the link back and do so ...

What do you think?

I myself get more than tied up in the comments on articles like these, comments full of frustration and people that are super offended by the article - which usually means that they didn't read it.  Or that they didn't read it for meaning.

We have a real problem in the UMC.  And I'm not saying that small churches are the problem - and I don't think that the Bishop is saying that necessarily either.  The problem is with churches that aren't bearing fruit.

What is the fruit?

New disciples.  Stronger disciples.  People going out into the world to fish for others, reaching hearts for Christ.

The Kingdom of God is built on multiplication, not addition.

I have many friends working as licensed local and supply pastors in very small churches.  Some of them go against the grain of Bishop Willimon's experience and are changing hearts and opening doors all over town.  And they aren't just in the rural fringes ... They are also in urban and suburban environments right next door to the church I work at.  They are winning the race and running it with perseverance.

But still others aren't.  We aren't closing big churches, are we?

We closed five faith communities last year in Central Texas.  It's a tragedy.  We launched four new church starts.  That's a blessing - full of hard work.

But we can't build our way out of this with new churches.  We have to fight the decline, or we're playing with the Enemy.

We can't justify a lack of bearing fruit.  Seriously, the comments on the Bishop's article ... So much justification.

I'm just choosing to be excited about being in ministry in our day and age.  Our church's lack of growth is an opportunity to try new things to reach new people.  And that's crazy awesome.  I just refuse to justify.  A lot of folks in the Gospels went to Christ for him to justify the way they'd always done things.

Name one time when 'we've never done it that way before' worked for Christ.  We need to fight the call to keep things small.

(Dropping the mic, walking away.)