let’s get ready to mumble

28 04 2013

I want to celebrate small church. Big churches get noticed. Most of what happens in churches is small. Because most churches are small.

A small thing is like a mumble. Brief, barely audible. Lost in a puff of wind. Except. Except that I walked past the Big Top at Spring Harvest before the session started, what a noise – 5000 humans mumbling in a big tent turns tiny noise into big noise. That’s lots of small churches, all together.

Our little church on our council estate doesn’t have a massive list of ministries. But what we do we try to do well. Through coffee morning and play group we try to build supportive friendships in an environment where they can be rare. We talk about Jesus, when we feel brave, and invite people to church, and sometimes they come. Sometimes they keep coming. Small church matters. 

Coffee morning Christmas dinner

Coffee morning Christmas dinner

Some mums from other church have helped us start a new group called Mumbles. This is a 5 session group run by mums from different churches with the aim of supporting mums struggling with motherhood and who have questions about God. It’s based around a prayer mumbled by many mums when life is tough. One person came to the first session, and it was so important for them. Small church matters.

Another local church has a Saturday football session and I help out. We we have 15-20 boys aged 7-21 playing together, learning football skills, yes, but also teamwork, maturity, life skills, and holding the vicar to his own no-swearing policy. Why do we allow ourselves to be sworn at and run ragged on a Saturday morning? Because of Jesus. Small church matters. IMG_1527_Snapseed

At vicar college we were encouraged to think of new and radical ideas and ways to be church. They are all well and good. Here I have learnt that the classics can still work.  Coffee morning matters. Playgroup matters. Home group matters. Scouts matters. Football matters. Giving lifts to old ladies matters. Bothering to do Sunday school for 2 kids matters. Talking to people matters. Supportive relationships matter.  Small church matters. Because of Jesus.

The kingdom is full of small things. Be encouraged by the small things. One mumble on its own is barely heard. It can be disheartening. But many mumbles together can change the world.

Let’s get ready to mumble. 

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3 responses

29 04 2013
Hazel Manley

Some years ago I was at a joint church prayer meeting (in a large church with several other quite large churches) each church leader in turn was asked what we should pray for and all requested prayer for their churches to become bigger. Eventually one stood & said’ “You may be wondering why we all want our churches to be bigger & better…”
“This is it”, I thought, “This is where they talk about reaching to people who don’t know God or serving our communities etc”
Then he added, “…it’s because we don’t want to be smaller and worse”.
I went home from that meeting very distressed.

Now granted, when put on the spot we all say daft things and for all I know he may still have nightmares about this piece of ‘wit’ and granted, being in a church that is very small is very hard work and being in a church that is declining in numbers is depressing, but the idea that bigger =better as far as church is concerned or that it should be a priority in our prayers is not something that would be easy to justify from the Bible.

It’s nice to have loads of people to fill the rota spots & nice when the singing sounds like a huge choir but it’s easy to become complacent when you’re in a big church, to think you must be getting it right, pleasing God etc, or assume that numbers are somehow an endorsement of what you are doing. It can also lead to looking down on smaller churches but there are thousands of small, hard working, God worshipping, community serving churches out there and I’m glad you’re celebrating them.

29 04 2013
God's Toddler

I sometimes wonder whether our obsession with “Big church” stems from us trying to make converts of all nations, because it’s easier than making disciples. The flip side is that some large churches do both well, and some small churches do neither well, but I think your post is, by and large, both valid and hugely encouraging. Thank you, and I shall feel refreshed and encouraged in my own mumblings.

29 04 2013
dorothy726

here’s a revolutionary thought – maybe God doesn’t need more people – maybe God needs deeper people… deeper people will automatically lead to the spread of the kingdom. It’ll be inevitable because they will be profoundly Christ-like in their ordinary living.
PS it might not lead to bigger congregations… but it _will_ lead to the spread of the kingdom.

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