My heart goes toward the small church (0-250). I grew up in these congregations and I believe the Spirit of God works mightily in these places. Yes, large churches have their place, but the small is all over the place. I want to share some insights I gained in the last few weeks of study on the following passage.
“There be four things which are little upon the earth, But they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, Yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, Yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, And is in kings’ palaces.”
Over the summer, my attention was brought to this passage again during a sermon. As I read it, a thought came to me, “Why would the writer want to draw focus to the small things?” The answer is quickly seen in the text. They are “exceeding wise.” Small may be their stature by the world’s standard. However, they have particular strengths applied by them wisely. And, their diminutive size does nothing to hamper their existence. In fact, for some, it is also a strength.
Solomon included this passage (written by Agur to students) in his proverbs for a reason. Most commentators seem to agree as to the reason being a focus on greatness is not in the size of the individual but in other attributes. I want to take it a bit further. These students being taught were future leaders in the nation and homes. Israel was considered a small nation in comparison to others. However, they had other strengths and qualities. The most important, I note, is their relationship with God. As the song goes, little is much when God is in it. So, if these are lessons for leaders in self-leadership and organizational leadership, what benefit can the small church gain from these insights?
I propose a look at the following insights for small churches. I am beginning to feel a book coming on…maybe.
The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their meat in the summer
- Small churches need to prepare ahead.
- Flexibility is not “license to wing it”.
Conies (the rock badger, hyrax).
The conies are but a feeble folk, Yet make they their houses in the rocks
- Must find our comfort and safety in a solid foundation
- Christ and Word
The locusts have no king, Yet go they forth all of them by bands
- No big I. All going out to work together.
- The organization is important but needs to be based on the culture and size. Small churches are not healthy because they don’t know how to do small well.
The spider taketh hold with her hands, And is in kings’ palaces.”
- Whatever you decide to do, do it, commit.
- Don’t bite off more than you chew.
- Small gets you into any city, any suburb, and any countryside.