Hi everyone. Rob here.
Let’s start today’s post by putting together some of the thoughts in the last few posts.
- Let’s be small and nimble, rather than large and fixed. Part of that is to not own buildings. Let’s meet in homes, hired facilities, in a tent, at the park – just anywhere except a building owned by the church that needs to be maintained and paid for by the church. Let’s free up our resources for good works, not maintaining our edifices.
- We are the body of Christ and bodies are made to move. We are a church on a mission from God. We are heralds of Christ and ambassadors for his kingdom, even as we carry the treasure in jars of clay.
- Let’s model ourselves more on 12 step groups than on the Christendom model that’s been handed down to us. We are a kingdom of priests who all have the ability to mutually edify each other through our stories of God’s work in our lives. We have all been rescued from death to life. We have all been filled with the Holy Spirit. We all have gifts that build up the body of Christ. We all have a story to share with the world. Let’s meet together, share the message together and build each other up as if our lives depend on it.
Of course, as soon as these kind of ideas are proposed all sorts of questions come up. What about the powerful impact of big numbers worshipping together? What about youth group and children’s ministry? What about staff and leadership structures? What about denominations, finances, resources, seekers and so on? Interestingly, as I read Paul’s letters I never saw him worry much about that stuff. He was more interested in the character of the church and her leaders than in particular structures. The better question may be, what about when bigger is better?
This is where the power of the wider movement comes in. All churches, no matter the size, need to be part of a wider movement. No church is an island. They need to be networked in to like-minded, similarly structured, wholehearted churches like theirs so that they can help each other. Unfortunately, denominations often start as movements but end up as reinforcing steel for large and fixed churches. We need to start again with movements that are local and utterly fixated on Christ and his mission. They are needed to turn bodies into armies. While a larger movement can help with essential matters like administration, finance and legal advice, their most important role in a network of small and nimble churches is to fuel the passion.
At the moment I’m not leading a small and nimble church, but if I was, I would be looking to my movement for three main things:
- Prayer support and encouragement. I would want to know that there were some overseers praying boldly and passionately for me and my church regularly. I would also want regular coffee catch ups to help keep me focused on the main goal: the mission and message of God’s kingdom.
- Theological and Spiritual stimulation. Too many churches and leaders stand still because they settle on certain ways of thinking and doing that worked for them in the past. Leaders need to be unsettled on a regular basis because churches do too! While the anchor of faith needs to be strong, working through new ideas in partnership with God stretches the muscles and keeps the body moving.
- Bringing the churches and leaders together. Sometimes bigger is better. Bringing many small churches together for worship, stimulating messages and stories will always be good. Leaders also need good conferences and retreats and congregants need to be encouraged into these as well. They just need to be more focused on helping our bodies of Christ to move.
Movements like this are starting to emerge and clear away the denominational fog. They in turn need to protect themselves from becoming static and slow. It looks like there’s another post needed!
Grace and peace everyone.