Church, Commitment, consumerism, cost, Disappointment, Glory, Kingdom, Numbers

A Few Good (wo)/men.

I remember hearing a minister once say, I’d rather have 10 people passionately souled out and on fire for Christ than thousands of apathetic Christians.

Numbers do matter, we want to see lives transformed for Christ, and so the more people doing that the better, the more people hearing the gospel the better too.

Yet in another sense numbers don’t matter. I keep on seeing how Jesus took time out to talk to one individual, a cowardly scholar, a woman with a dubious reputation, it wasn’t all stage managed crowds. In fact Jesus was always leaving crowds where-as our leaders are always trying to milk them.

Yet I have noticed the weekend in particular with a couple of very small events, our 20’s & 30’s event only had 6 people, and our LATE SERVICE in Hanham was also numerically small, yet both had an intense sense of the Holy Spirits presence, and we shared openly real and authentic stuff as we prayed into stuff in a vulnerable way, but a way that felt beautiful and God honouring. A glimpse of what I believe Church can, should and could be.

we might like the anonymity of being part of a crowd, but I think it is in real community that we really grow.

we might like the fact that in a larger group your turn at serving on the (whatever) rota comes around less, but actually in serving we grow.

If I ever did a PHD I would like to do something on the corrilation between larger/smaller churches and discipleship, my belief is the larger the Church the more the risk of consumerism and complacency, after all someone else will probably do it, safety in numbers, yet discipleship is never meant to be safe.

As the five of us worshipped in Hanham on Sunday night, I shot a side-ways glance, and thought “is this my Gideon’s Army for taking Hanham?” just as the group of us pledged to seek God’s transformation is again a small group, but then I was reminded that although Gideon’s Army was tiny it still defeated the Midionites, in Corinthians Paul reminds us that “in weakness God is strong” after-all God reminds us that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord of hosts” -maybe in a great team of mighty people we may see wonderful advances but the glory would go to the team leader, as a tiny bunch of ordinary stretched and broken Christians seeing God do wonders, the glory goes to God.

So, although the numbers may feel discouraging, I believe that with God we are always the majority, I’d rather have a small group of people committed to the Kingdom cause, than a great bunch that come and want to be entertained.

Yes it is nice to talk to a crowd, it is nice when they laugh at my jokes, but the Church is not measured by its bums on seats but rather on its fruitfulness,it’s Christ-likeness and its serving capacity. Yet it is interesting how often clergy ask each other “how big is your Church” which gages as a measure of your success, but if no one is becoming more Christ-like then you have just created a wonderful middle class hang out.

So, even if we are a small army, let us be measured by our hearts and our desire to be obedient to Christ, rather than our numbers.

Someone once said “its not the size of the guy in the fight, but the size of the fight in the guy” -even if we are small, we can still have a big vision. Let’s be people ahead of the curve where God is about to move, rather than hanging around where God has been working enjoying the aftermath.

Let’s not let the small number of fellow troops in the trenches deter us for we remember that the battle belongs to the Lord.

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Gideon, Numbers, perspectives, Pioneer, Pioneers, priorities, ready

The Power Of The Few!

I love the West Wing and one of the great lines comes from President Bartlett when he quotes Margaret Mead and says “never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, because it is all that ever has”.

Recently with Jeremy Corbyn seeing many people desert him politically, yet leaving him with actually I think the best shadow cabinet we possibly have ever had, with people actually saying stuff that sounds like they really believe it rather than saying it because they think you want to hear it.
Better to be a small group of committed people of shared vision than a disperate and disunited large gathering of factions who loosely tolerate each other.
Bigger does not always mean better.
It made me think about popularity and keeping everyone happy, which is the surest way of not achieving anything (you will never manage to please all of the people of time).
It reminded me of something a local leader once said “I would rather have 5 people on fire for Christ than a congregation of 500 who were apathetic about Christ”.
The important thing is not numbers of attendees that come to our events but the depth of discipleship that is happening in their hearts and lives.
Christ’s strategy was not trying to steer a ship of thousands when he was on earth, rather h invested in the 12, a small group who went on to change the world with the biggest movement in world history.
Gideon fell for the numbers trap with IIs huge army, which Hod whittled down to a small group of guys.
Invest in the few for the sake of the many feels paradoxical, but yet that is the way of nthe Kingdom.
I remember a quote from Rick Warren who said “to impact a moment send a tweet, but to impact a generation mentor a leader”.
I worry sometimes that over the years I have been in Kingswood I sometimes have been a mile wide, and yet an only an inch deep, yet call of the Kingdom is for “deep to cry out to deep”.
As I think back over the prayer room, we haven’t had the place full all the time, but we have had the wonderful flow of faithful people, to often we think about quantity and God thinks about quality, we like breadth and God is into depth.
We are not called to entertain the crowd, but tend sheep, too often we can loose the individuals in the big projects… Or feel disappointed at a small turn out.
Yet I believe Kingswood and Hanham could be turned around and transformed by just a few of us on fire for God.

The question for each of us is will we be those people who are on fire for God? The souled out disciples. We may be the few in the eyes of the world, but from this small underdog can once again transformed the world by the power of the spirit within us.

I’ll end with a quote from John Wesley:
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”
― John Wesley
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