Dec 11, 2009

sizing up your community

I was walking through Wal-Mart last night, which recently has become a "Super-Wal-Mart" (just in time for Christmas).

First off, I like Wal-Mart. I've not only worked for one in the past, but several of my friends have been as well. I know many of its values from the inside, and have appreciated it as a customer as well.

That said, Wal-mart is but a stone's throw away from becoming it's own nation. They already have food, global communication, housewares, free video games to play, all the wit and wisdom of old greeters as you enter the village, and a lot of cheap guns in the back. If there were showers in the bathroom, I'm quite sure you could live there indefinitely.

I'm glad it's been enlarged, especially since last night my date (a.k.a. my wife) and I went in for some household items and thought, "We need eggs." And we could get these eggs after a hike from one time zone of the store to the other.

Check this out:

I know many people don't like Wal-Mart for this reason. It's too big, they reason, and steals away from the "Mom and Pop" stores where relationships are formed with a consistent group of people over time. We actually enjoy the option of one-stop shopping, but do understand we need to also support local businesses as well.

While this post can turn into a debate that way, let's not go there. Instead, I'm just using this as a springboard to talk about community.

Are you aware of what your preference is when it comes to your favorite size of community? And not only that, but to what lengths you're willing to go to promote that?

Sometimes people I come into contact with tell me about their preference of the size of a church they'd like to take part in. They'll say things like, "I want a small church because it makes me feel like I know everybody," or "You know, a medium-sized church would be great because then we would have resources and yet still maintain face-to-face recognition," or "What is really awesome is a large church because you can pretty much do anything and serve everyone."

I'm been a part of churches of all sizes - 10, 40, 80, 150, 450, 800, 2000, 18000. I've been amazed at how in each community there is a sense of comfort and discomfort... be it from those who want things to decrease, others who want things to increase, and those who don't give much thought to it "as long as it stays the same."

What we fail to recognize is that the past, present, or future size of a church isn't as important as if it's the "right" size. Meaning, is a church the size God wants it to be - does He want it bigger, and its people are slacking off at inviting or are being internally unfaithful to Him (thereby not giving Him any cause to bless them)? Or does He want to "grow down" a very large flagship church because it's a mile wide and an inch deep?

Notice that none of these questions have anything to do with our personal comforts or desires. And yet while we know this is the best approach, we still lead with what "we're" looking for.
  • "What can this church offer me?"
  • "Is there a program for _____? If not, start one now,"
  • "Why do we have so many programs? Let's just hang out like we used to."
  • "Will you promise to not talk about the topic of _______? Because I don't think that's a topic we should ever talk about."
  • "When will you start talking about _______? Because as we all know it's the most important thing to talk about."
Last night when I got my eggs, I was reminded that I could have bumped into someone I knew at any given moment. I've been around this community for a few years now, and it's common to see people I know around town. In fact, last night at the movie theater a kid recognized me from reffing football this past season for his younger brother.

Maybe that's the real issue. Maybe it's not an issue of how big or small we like things, but if we're willing to stick around long enough to be a part of the community for the long haul. That way you'll find those 1-2 friends you're looking for, or maybe the 8-10 card players you yearn to hang with, or the 20-50 peeps you'd like to have over for a house party.

Because where two or three are gathered in the name of God, He's there. So let Him decide how big the group can get, and you just hang on for the ride.
"And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47b)

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