I am so grateful for the diverse people I interact with online. The Biblical Leadership Principles group on LinkedIn gets a special shout out for having a great conversation with me as I wrestled these last few posts (What should church look like? and Is smaller church better?).
I am also extremely grateful for a dear friend who seems to know just what is on my mind and sends me great data to fill in my voids.
So here are the pieces I put together today:
1. Dale Harrison reminded me that not every community can hold a large church.
2. Howard Nason pointed out that many small churches grow to be big churches (does this mean they are bad? I had to ask myself.) – This is where my conversation started toward a solution.
3. Dale shared of a baptism they are having this week – a middle aged woman coming to Jesus – that is seriously powerful! His church runs 30 people.
4. A friend forwarded an article to me on the lack of trust in the US. Actually, it is an article called The Leaderless Doctrine. Turns out, the younger generation doesn’t trust anyone in leadership – and since I’m currently working through a developmental class, I can tell you that trust and mistrust are developed in the first years of life, but can be sidelined anywhere thereafter. In a world where 9/11 created a lack of security, where families split up more than they stay together, where the economy is at best unpredictable – do we doubt that our kids have a deep seated vein of mistrust?
5. I am reading The Me I Want to Beby John Ortberg. Today I hit a part about the importance of connection. As leaders, we often think of community. We become experts at human interaction as it pertains to community development. But it is easy to miss the basics – we need each other. We need to make soul connections with other people.
The Rich Young Ruler, and the Pharisee (by the Tax Collector – the parable) both thought they had it made – but the problem was that they saw life through the lens of accomplishment. If I do A, B and C, then I’m acceptable to God, to myself and to others – I’ve got it made.
I don’t want to be that way, even when it comes to building community. I don’t want to “look right” and miss the whole point. It is possible to do small groups and not develop human connections – you know, the kind where you are loved unconditionally, where others want your best for you, and where they will speak God’s perspective into your life.
Just like larger churches, smaller churches can get so focused on process that they miss the purpose. Ortberg points out that Paul “paints a picture of connectedness in writing to the church in Ephesus that they are ‘being rooted and established in love'”
This is key – our churches, no matter their size, need to be rooted and established in love. We need to be so engaged with the Gospel as a connection to God and to others, that we are able to look beyond our measures of performance, and work from the heart.
Human relationships aren’t easy. We can’t do this without the Holy Spirit. Dare I be authentic with you? What if you have a bad day and decide I’m off the wall? What if I have a bad day and feel like everyone is against me? (I do that sometimes.) Could we dare to be genuine with one another, and develop beyond community to connectedness?