Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Does Your Church Have a Small But?

As I work towards my proposal for my D.Min. program, I'm finding myself thinking more and more about healthy small faith communities.  And so the other day as I was looking over the web presence of my own little church, I found myself encountering a sentence I've read dozens of times with slightly different eyes.

We are, or so the little blurb that pops up on Google informs you, "small but growing."    And I found myself suddenly wondering, "small but?"   Huh.   I'd never really thought about that before.  Does any church really need to have a "small but?"  Is small something that churches need to apologize for?

Oh, sure, there are plenty of things of which I could see a church needing to repent.  There are plenty of entirely justifiable "buts."
"We're emotionally manipulative and judgmental sometimes, but at least we've learned to recognize it." 
"We're a giant warehouse of a church indistinguishable from a Best Buy, but we try to build relationships in the midst of this faceless crowd." 
"We're a giant corporate church with a worship as carefully choreographed as a Cirque de Soleil show in Vegas, but we work hard to still have a human touch." 
"We're a social clique, but we've been trying to figure out how to be more welcoming." 
"We're drab, dull, and boring, but we're willing to change, or at least laugh every once in a while."
"We're as mean as a rattlesnake, but you don't have to come here."
Those things, I'd get.  Some are certainly spiritual afflictions of small faith communities.  And some churches really do stay little primarily because they have no good news to offer.

But small itself?  I'm not sure that's a thing we need to qualify.

We are small and vibrant.  We're scrappy and hardworking.  We are intimate and spiritual.  We are cute and cuddly.  Shawdey got moves!  We are a place where you can make a difference.  We are a place of belonging.

Whatever we say, it needs to be:  "We know who we are, and from that place of authenticity, we speak the Gospel into the world."