I spent many years of my adult life functioning in circles that assumed if your church was small, there was something wrong with it. I was also led to believe if your church was large and growing in numbers (people, buildings, and budget), it was healthy and receiving God’s blessing.
These two assumptions were simply givens. And you know what they say about assumptions…
I grew up in a small church, but moved on to the world of big churches in my early twenties. I became enamored and enthused by growing churches and the dynamic leadership teams that managed the forward movement.
I attended leadership conferences and hung on the words of church growth experts. Big names and big churches and big strategies and big organizations convinced me of what I needed to do and be, if I dared to embrace the role of leader in the body of Christ.
I even began my personal ascent (such a horrible concept) to significance and recognition in that arena. I was pursued by much larger churches. I was encouraged to enlarge my territory and expand my influence. I spoke at conferences. I was asked to write for publication. I taught in Bible college. I lead worship at large outreach events. I played an Ovation Custom Balladeer, for crying out loud. With pearl inlay…
But I don’t think my soul was ever at peace in that role. It was certainly what I did. But I never wore it well. And in my heart of hearts, this square peg in a round hole was constantly looking for the square hole.
And then North Point happened. The square hole found me nearly twenty years ago. 1500 miles away from what I had always called home. The story still amazes me.
My old world would probably pat North Point on the head. “Hang in there, little camper. Maybe someday you’ll grow up and become the church God designed for you to be.” I never would have said that, but there is no doubt we all thought that about small churches.
So wrong. So very wrong.
There’s a new book out called “Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus”, by Chris Smith and John Pattison. Here’s an excerpt from the intro:
In the beginning, the church ate together, traveled together and shared in all facets of life. Centered as they were on Jesus, these seemingly mundane activities took on their own significance in the mission of God. In “Slow Church”, [the authors] invite us to leave franchise faith behind and enter into the ecology, economy and ethics of the kingdom of God, where people know each other well and love one another as Christ loved the church.
It’s the book I should have written twenty years ago. I speaks well of my change.
I read a post today that inspired me. If you are part of the North Point family, read it. Really. Read it. It will inspire you and affirm why you are part of this family…by somebody who has never met even one of us. If you are not, read it at your own risk. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite
I can’t help thinking though, that our Christianity in America is losing something, little by little; that as large, modern churches become the rule in our spiritual landscape, we’re sacrificing the unique, special, artisan expression of Jesus that can only be found in the small and the personal.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with shopping at a big box store and picking-up a nationally-known pizza on the way home, but I’ve always believed in “shopping local”, and in supporting the little guy. It’s about retaining something intangible; something elemental; something worth holding onto.
Wow. The beauty of such finely crafted words touches deep.