"The celebrity is a mere slave to the crowd; he or she needs the crowd as much as they long for a celebrity." - Alan Hirsch
"How many you running these days?"
This is CEO Pastor speak for "What's your weekend head count?" in the "launch big and fast" church networks. I've heard the question more times than I can number. I know this because I used to run in such circles. That is... before I quit. (You can read our story HERE.)
"So you want to have a small church?"
We tend to hear this a lot while sharing our vision for a relationally-based community without all the mega-contemporary performance elements in "as-many-as-possible" gatherings. But, to answer that rhetorical question and break said faulty assertion, "No." In fact, size has nothing to do with it. We aren't placing numerical limitations or goals on this thing. We simply refuse to place the "cart" (growth) before the "horse" (health) because we haven't found "big and fast" to be the responsible approach.
"Largeness doesn't have to be destructive. It's dangerous. But it's not destructive in itself." -Eugene Peterson
"The king's business requires haste."
This probably shouldn't be used in the context of gospel-centered living but it seems to be a favorite text of driver-leaders who want bigger and better results from those who serve. (We won't take all the time to dig into why a reference to David asking a priest for food and weapons while fleeing for his life has nothing to do with breaking a sweat for Jesus, but you can check it out in 1 Samuel 21.) The African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” is appropriate here. If Jesus' charge to "make disciples" is to be honored, and if discipleship is indeed a relationally based learning process, then it's important for disciplers to understand that their pace determines who is and isn't able to follow them.
Slow Is Fast
We're willing to start slow if that's what it takes to develop and sustain Christ-centered life rhythms within our community. We're working toward a family of God legacy, not thousands of spectators. Our "wins" will be healthy homes and neighborhoods, not big buildings filled to capacity.
Some will say this is selfish and not "kingdom minded" at all. "If you want to make a big impact, shouldn't you be reaching as many as possible as often as possible?" That question deserves a question, "Can you define 'reaching' people? What are you winning these people to?"
As we've seen the shortcomings of the drive-thru church franchise, we've looked long and hard at Jesus' approach. If you will invest everything into a few who go and do the same, something very deep transpires. People begin to develop their own unshakeable testimony that transcends the momentary inspiration found through someone else's 30-minute monologue.
When we say "kingdom," it simply refers to kingship. In other words, "expanding the kingdom of God" literally means introducing and establishing the restorational life-giving lordship of Jesus in every person, relationship, household, neighborhood... (keep going). Interestingly, this divine work has a way of spreading like wildfire. If the New Testament serves as a case study of what the Holy Spirit's capable of, we don't need to worry about "How many you running these days?" We'll make disciples. Jesus will build His church.