By Stuart Swartzentruber
Recently, while working on my deck railing, I extracted a 1\2” drill bit from my tools and drilled the necessary holes for fastening the wooden railing to my deck. It was satisfying to see the obvious results as I drilled. Among my drill bits I also have very small bits, which are designed for the precise and accurate projects that will come up eventually. Talking about large tools: remember the crayons toddlers use for their impressive pictures for Grandma? They are the perfect medium for that project, but less than satisfactory for an experienced artist.
Bigger is not better and smaller is not worse. The question is: what is needed or required in a given setting to accomplish the task?
We live in a world that promotes bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter as somehow having the highest value. The pushback from that kind of thinking has led to the popularity of “tiny houses” and phrases like “shop local” and “small batch”. These phrases tout the value of local, smaller, and more organic products. The perceived result is the making of better whiskey, smoothies, dog food, or coffee.
What about the church? Does a larger church please God more? Are smaller communities of faith better? Does it really have to be a competition?
God made us in his image as complex beings. Maybe one size doesn’t fit all. There is no substitute for the experience of hundreds or thousands of people singing their worship to God together. It is also hard to replace what happens when 1 0 or 15 people gather together and see “small batch” church happen. God’s church and his people are multifaceted and complex. His kingdom can never be tamed and reduced down to a formula that makes us the master. We must learn to listen for the voice of God’s Spirit even as our culture shouts in our other ear.
Many churches and organizations in 2020 have been forced to revisit who we are and how we do things. Could we use this current ebb of the frantic pace we live in to thoughtfully ask these questions? What parts of the kingdom are best done bigger? What things are done well at a small batch level? In what areas might God be asking us to make changes?
I am grateful for this opportunity to introduce our staff at LHNM. Each one has a passion for seeing God’s kingdom expand in First Nations settings across Ontario. Church often happens in slower, smaller, incarnational contexts for us. We believe this setting best meets the need for building trust and community life in our corner of the kingdom. What is needed or required in your corner?