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December 08, 2011

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Diana

My experience girnowg up in a medium sized church in the US (approx 250) was that it was easy to just show up and leave without anyone really taking notice. I found the experience of attending a smaller church of about 100 in the UK very different. (I was there for three years.) While I had as much freedom to easily come and go, I definitely felt it was more noticed in the smaller church. I began to build relationships there which resulted in me staying longer, led to stronger friendships, discipleship, and eventually the realization that I hadn't ever followed Jesus, even though I'd always thought I was a Christian. I observed a real community and deeper fellowship there in that smaller church that I hadn't seen before. In hindsight I think it was a picture of how the church is described in Acts.In Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point he talks about the theory that 150 is a magic number where he describes a social phenomenon seen across multiple types of communities (schools, workplaces, etc). I'm paraphrasing but basically the idea is that approximately 150 persons is the maximum number of people whom we can interact with without feeling that we don't know how we relate to them. When workplaces rise above that number they have observed productivity levels come to a plateau even while adding additional workers. The idea is that above that number, people begin to feel like numbers and don't think that what they do really matters or makes a difference. I felt that the missional church video above was spot-on in describing church members who don't think they need to personally prepare themselves to share the gospel, and instead think that bringing someone to church and leaving it up to the pastor is evangelism. I think there can be a real danger in a large church where members can begin to depend on the pastors and elders to do the job that I think we are each called to do.I don't know if the model of a big attractional church really works I think the people inside the church probably think it's an attractive model that works but I'm not sure that the people outside would think the same. As to being attractive , the apostle Paul talks about being all things to all men but logically one large church can't be all things to all men, really it can only be a few key things to only a certain type of people. I think it's the reason why there tends to be a dominant homogenous group in a church, plus a few attenders in fringe groups. In thinking about how we should do church, I find it very helpful to think about Jesus' model of discipling only 12 men over the course of three years with the goal of sending them out to be disciple makers in their own right. I think we see the same model followed by Paul as he trains up other men to plant churches. I find it helpful to remember the cliche that God has no grandchildren. I would love to see churches begin to plant when they get too large I feel that this would encourage people who haven't felt needed before to step up to the plate and reveal talents and gifts we haven't seen before, or for previously dependent people to realize they too can be equipped to become leaders too. I also feel that large churches can make the mistake of depending on the strength of its people whereas perhaps small churches might by necessity be forced to depend on the One whose strength matters, to His glory!

Moises

I think you are being a little unfiar, Steve! Before acting obediently one needs to know what has been commanded. Many, probably most, believers have been taught so much nonsense about what is required of them that they turn in the opposite direction and interpret living by the Spirit' as meaning the same as having no plan or pattern. I know this is true from many discussions as well as from personal experience. Been there; got the T-shirt! It took me nearly twenty years to overcome well-meant false teaching.Many in simple churches have been hurt by institutional churchianity (both old and new forms) and need a time of healing. Many are also frightened of repeating the same mistakes that damaged them if they proactively disciple others. Many do not believe that they are qualified' or worthy to teach and lead others. Only when the Holy Spirit has brought them to a place of personal wellbeing and understanding will they be ready to step out as true disciples should. In UK and much of the West' we suffer from the belief that we have a christian' past. We don't; our past is one of churchianity, not christianity. Those with no experience of this churchianity find it much easier to understand Jesus' teaching because they start without false preconceptions. This is as true in UK as traditionally non-christian countries. I say this not as some form of excuse, but because recognising it may help us to help simple churches move forward. Fascinating report, Peter and Ben. Well done!

Vanessa

Really like the blog, appreciate the share!

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