I am sorry that last week’s bloggages tailed off, and that this week’s might be somewhat intermittent.
At the moment I am so busy that bees are asking me to slow down because I am making them look lazy. I don’t mind being that busy, but I find that while I am able to be reflective (like a mirror) I have fewer opportunities to write these reflections down. Perhaps that is an indication that I am too busy.
This week’s busyness is partly because I will be attending the BUGB Larger Ministers’ Conference. Actually it’s not a conference for corpulent clergy, it’s a conference for Ministers of larger churches, but I prefer the more mischievous ‘Larger Ministers’ title. (It also reminds me I could lose a few pounds). I hope that I might have space to send a few bloggages your way from that conference, but let me send you one now in advance of attending the conference.
It may seem elitist or disrespectful of smaller churches to have a conference just for larger ministers (sorry, can’t drop that descriptor). But I don’t believe it is for several reasons:
- ‘larger church’ is not synonymous with ‘growing church’. There are many smaller churches that are growing faster than larger churches. After all, if three people join a church of 25 people it is 12% growth. If three people join a church of 250 people it’s just over 1% growth.
- larger churches are not better than smaller churches. They’re just different. Yes there may be more resources (there are definitely more people) and they may look more impressive (when we use the human method of being impressed of counting buttocks on pews and dividing by two rather than God’s which is to look at the hearts of those who are there). But the last church I attended had about 20 members and the commitment to following Jesus, the fellowship, friendship, love and encouragement within that church were no less than what I experience in my somewhat larger church now.
- I believe that it’s God’s intention that all churches grow (deeper in their relationship with him and as people come to faith) and if we are not growing we need to work out what we are doing that is stifling God’s Spirit. But there are different reasons why growth doesn’t happen in larger churches than in smaller ones. It’s helpful to explore those with people who are experiencing the same issues.
- there’s less guilt. There, I said it. It’s possible when I am with people from churches that are smaller than ours that I feel guilt because our church doesn’t have some of the problems that they have. And even when we do share some of those problems they are proportionately less disabling because we are larger. For example, when a family leaves our church (we are sad) but that leaves less of a hole than when a family leaves a smaller church. I know my fellow-believers don’t intend (or want) me to feel guilty, but I am often quiet about our church in clergy gatherings where there are smaller churches represented because of that guilt. (Guilt is probably too strong a word but I can’t think of the right one).
- I can learn. Our church is not perfect. If it was I would have to leave because I would spoil it. So it helps me to be able to learn from ministers of churches that face some of the same size-related issues that we do. Don’t get me wrong: I learn loads through friends from other churches of all sizes. I am really blessed to be part of a group of local Ministers where we can be open and honest in our friendship and support one another prayerfully through that. But much as I love those friends (and I do **gush, gush**) there will be some things that I can only learn from those who are part of churches of a similar size as ours. Again, don’t read ‘better’ where I mean ‘different’.
So if you are a pray-er I would ask you to pray for the larger Ministers this week (Mon-Wed). Pray that we will be blessed, encouraged, inspired and most of all encounter Jesus through the conference. And I will try to share with you things Jesus says to me through the conference. You may like to check out the twitter feed here as it may be that I will be able to condense my thoughts to 140 characters occasionally – see, small is beautiful!
Be blessed, be a blessing.