In my last entry I talked about the Small Consultation that will be held next week in Guelph. In this entry I want to try answering the “why” question.
Why would leaders come from across Canada for two days of meetings on the small church? Why have the people on the organizing committee given hours of their time to make this happen? Why is there a deep concern on the part of all involved to find ways in which we can more effectively serve small churches?
The answer is simple. We care because your church matters to God. There may be times when you feel all alone in your ministry but I want to assure you that that is not the case. You and your church matter to God and therefore you matter to us.
I’m not sure what will come out of these two days of consultation but it is my prayer that whatever does come of it, it will make a difference for all of you who serve small churches.
You matter to God
A phrase that I have heard too often and one that I just can’t let pass without comment is that we are just a small church. No one is just a small church.
You are part of God’s family with brothers and sisters who are growing in their walk with God because they are part of your church.
You are part of a worldwide body that is made up of millions of believers who are serving Jesus in every part of the world.
You are a potential source of future leaders who will serve the church in the years ahead.
Most important of all you are a group of Christians loved deeply by Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 5 Paul says that Christ loved his church and gave himself for it. There is a sense in which the church here refers to the church universal consisting of people in every part of the world and in every century since Jesus lived here on earth. But the church universal is made up of thousands of local churches each and everyone loved deeply by Jesus Christ. Jesus loves your small church.
So, don’t ever think that you are just a small church. You are so much more than that. You are a group of God’s children, loved by Jesus. You are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Whatever your size, whatever your location that verse says that you are so much more than just a small church. You are a group of people who matter to God.
You matter to those who are attending
For the past few days I have been receiving emails from leaders who are attending telling me how excited they are to be part of the consultation. They are excited because they care about small churches and they see this as an opportunity to serve them better.
Over the past few months I have been amazed at leaders who have been willing to set everything else aside, get on a plane and fly across the country so that they can talk about ways in which they might be able to serve small churches more effectively. Seminary professors will be asking how the academic world might prepare their students for small-church ministry. Denominational leaders will be discussing how they might serve the small churches in their denomination. Para-church leaders will be talking about how they might be able to work more effectively with the thousands of small churches in Canada. Small-church pastors will be bringing their wisdom and expertise to the discussions.
All of this is happening because you who serve in small churches matter within the larger church picture in Canada and these leaders care about those of you who so willingly sacrifice to serve them.
You matter to me
Last year when I had to cancel the National Forum On The Small Church in Canada, I went through a difficult period for a few weeks. I had put a lot of time and energy into making that event happen and for those few weeks I wondered whether I should just retire and not put myself into the position again in which I might fail. Finally I came to a point at which I decided that I couldn’t quit yet.
I realized that the work that you do in small churches is too important for me to give up. I had no idea what God might do but I decided that I wanted to be a part of it. I knew that the approximately 8,000 small evangelical churches in Canada matter to God. I knew that those same churches mattered to leaders across the country.
I knew that there was a tremendous work of God that could happen if all those churches could be turned lose. I knew that there were thousand of leaders in small churches that were making huge sacrifices in order to serve the people whom God had entrusted to them. I knew that those leaders needed encouragement and support.
For all those reasons and a few more I knew that I had to renew my concern for the small church. Rather than feel sorry for myself I had to move ahead to see what God might do. I believe that he has put together all of the pieces for this consultation. I am looking forward to seeing what he is going to do as a result of these two days.
So, you matter to God.
You matter to Christian leaders in Canada.
You matter to me.
So, don’t ever tell anyone that you are just a small church.
You are so much more and for two days next week you are going to be the reason why 29 leaders will be meeting together.
May God bless each of you in your service for Him.