Tony and Felicity Dale wrote a little book about little churches that are changing the world. Following are some points that stood out to me.
It’s not about growth, it’s about multiplication. The title of the book refers to the reproductive patterns of two very different animals. The larger of the animals reproduces slowly and lives life with few relatives. The smaller of the two animals reproduces exponentially. The analogy could go in a lot of directions from this point, but the take-away is simple: effective churches can multiply their effectiveness by reproducing new bodies of self-sustaining believers, rather than hording believers. Church reproduction leads to further reproduction. Church growth leads to people-pleasing at the expense of pleasing God. It’s the difference between holding tight to what you have and giving away what has been freely given.
Stop waiting for permission to start a church. Jesus has already sent out his disciples to advance his kingdom. We don’t need the blessing of a human leader, religious denomination, or government policy. We don’t even need more church planting training or strategy. We have Jesus. God has prepared the crops. It’s time to harvest. I’m not suggesting that believers go out foolishly. Satan is real, and he would love nothing better than to pick off zealous mavericks on a mission from God. I am suggesting that believers should go out and pray for vision and transformation where the non-believers are, rather than circling the wagons and hoping that God throws over some worthy additions to the body of Christ.
Let God call the shots, and let him deal with the glory. Humans are not equipped to handle attention from large numbers of other humans. Fame tends to turn people selfish. At the very least, it distracts from reality. God, on the other hand, thrives on human attention and even submission. He wants us to watch his every move and hang on his every word. He can’t wait for us to follow his lead and join him in the work he’s already doing. Tony and Felicity Dale suggest that small churches with loose (but intentional) organization are perfectly suited to this God-obsessed mindset, because there’s no one else worth idolizing. The trouble comes when one or a few people start calling the shots for large numbers of believers. It’s not that God is against leadership. It’s that humans are quick to ascribe God-attributes to any human leader who hints that they’re willing to receive some glory.