It seems that the purpose of life is to be big. Supermarkets become ginormous, shopping centres run for miles and fast food joints offer ever-increasing sized burgers for our delight.
But what about when we’re small?
What about when our church is small, and perhaps in danger of feeling insignificant?
Does God have plans for a small church that are as exciting as those he seems to have for the mega churches around us?
The answer is a resounding “yes”.
God’s desire that we join with him in sharing the love of Jesus in our communities is for all of us; big or small.
It’s easy for small churches to feel less significant though. To feel that there’s not enough people, resources or opportunities to play a significant part in God’s plan. There’s a temptation to look wistfully at bigger churches and think “if only…’.
In Judges 6, we meet Gideon. Called to a great task, even though he felt inadequate. “Go in the strength you have” God says, and to make his point clear God adds: “am I not sending you?” (verse 14) and “I will be with you” (verse 16).
Gideon was falling into exactly the same temptation that many small churches face – becoming more bound up by what he felt wasn’t possible, than excited by what he believed God could do.
No wonder he panics when God starts reducing his troops.
Gideon planned for a big army, in the same way that maybe we long for a big church. If that’s not where we are right now though, we are still called to place our trust in the God who is able to do more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
The size of our church is neither a barrier to what God can do, nor an indication that the call on us to reach the lost and make disciples is any less urgent. If we take our focus off what we can’t do, and instead commit to delight in how God has, and is, gifting us, then possibilities open up everywhere.
- Where are we already connected in the community?
- What special things are we already known for?
- What are we really good at?
- What do we love doing?
I’m always fascinated when I ask churches what they’re really good at. ‘Food’ usually makes an appearance on the list, but so do things like ‘caring’, ‘friendship’ and a wide range of other attributes so longed for by those who find themselves alone or lost.
Too often we miss the fact that God has already equipped us to do exactly the works he has planned for us, because we’re so busy looking at how he has equipped others. If we feel insignificant, we need to raise our expectation of what is possible, seek his calling and then step out and have a go – however big or small we are.
A certain church put ‘food’ firmly at the top of things they love doing, but struggled to see how God could use this in their very small church. Every Sunday the small congregation gathered in their church for worship, opposite a field where families gathered. Young people played, while their families stood on the touchline – happily in the summer, shivering in winter.
At one of their church meetings, God brought cake and community into sharp focus. The small congregation realised that by changing their service time, they could bake their hearts out and take the cake to the families on the touchline – which was gratefully received each week.
It’s early days yet, but new relationships are being formed and new opportunities opening up. One simple move from “we can’t” to “we could” and God’s purposes are moving forward.
I love Shakespeare plays: one of my favourite quotes is from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
“Though she be small – she be mighty”.
Small can be mighty when it walks hand-in-hand with the creator of the universe. Small can make an impact when it is committed to a purpose and following a calling.
Size does not determine potential impact – as anyone who has ever slept in a room with one determined mosquito should be able to testify!
Small church? Though you be small, you can be mighty!