There is a lot of talk about explosive numerical growth in the church. There was a map listing which states had the most mega churches. Pastors who take a small group to become a church of thousands are rock stars.
The Bible has a large place for small things. The lead verse presents a mustard seed. This parable is first off all about the ministry of Jesus – small at the start but growing as it has gained over the centuries and across the nations.
This parable contains both small and large. At the small end is the start – a small seed. It takes thousands of these to be ground and developed into mustard for cooking or to make the mustard that goes on your hot dog. At the large end is a tree large enough for birds to roost – a picture of the church that emerged over time.
This parable is about the work of God in the world. More often than not his people were shepherds and fishermen. They came from small places and were not likely to have been noticed by history except that they entered into the story told in the Bible.
This parable is also how God has been at work in the world since the beginning. How did the world begin? Is it with the clash of titanic gods, as in the myths? No, it is with a word, “and God said…” What is a word? It is a seed from with all things came into being. The gospel is a word, from which the church of Christ was born.
We need to remember that small is Biblical. By that I mean that there are lots of stories in the scripture about individual people and individual acts that mattered. Some of those grew, some of those did not.
Can ministry be reduced to a number – the usual number is “how many attend on Sunday?” Do we ask if they are listening or sleeping, taking notes or checking Facebook as they attend. Do they attend by physical presence or by paying attention with heart, soul and mind to the word of God?
You, reader, started small, almost too small to see when your parents DNA joined to make the pattern that became you.
So I am planning to write a series of thoughts on this theme: Small is Biblical. I am not saying that Big is un-biblical. But I am also not saying that small is only good because it might become something big.