“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” (3 John 1:5-6)
I have never been a regular attendee of a church that wouldn’t be considered a “small church.” All the churches I’ve been a part of have fewer than 200 people. The most extreme example was when we started Good News Community Church in 2005 with about 10 people.
During the GNCC era, our pastor had a detailed vision statement and a lot of “ambitions.” Last Sunday he shared that he had an ambition that the church would grow to 100 people in 2 years. At that time, I had also shared some of his ambitions and enthusiasms. It never happened. At our peak, there might have been one Sunday in which the attendance was about 70 people. And now, GNCC is no more after we have gone through a church merger earlier this year.
But, then I thought, although we never had 100 people gathered on Sunday, GNCC was not really a small church. In its short 4+ year history, we brought many people to Christ. Many other people walked through the doors of GNCC and their lives were touched and changed.
I remember fondly those few students who came to us so young and so fragile, and we learned from each other, encouraged each other, and although none of them are still in Northern California, they’ve gone on to become leaders among their church groups wherever they’ve gone. Whenever I think about them or see their names pop up on Facebook, I would say a little prayer for them.
I remember those young couples who came through GNCC and their lives and their words were such an inspiration to us. They freely and honestly shared their lives with us and we were mutually encouraged in the faith as a result. I can’t wait to see them again and again.
I also think of a student who came to us as a “strong Christian,” but by the time that he left for further education elsewhere, he was entering into a crisis of faith. Somehow we stirred a storm in him. But I would rather we upset his applecart than for his life not to be affected at all. At least we have many brothers and sisters praying for him. I think of him every now and then.
The reach of a church cannot be measured by how many are gathered in a room on Sunday morning. No church is a small church because church ministry should be measured by the saints dispersed, not the saints gathered. Salt has to be spread out of a saltshaker and to prove its taste and effectiveness before it can be deemed as “good salt.” We should not be in the business of building beautiful saltshakers and labeling that as “good salt.”
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)