Ministry Musings: Quantity Envy

The United States may be the only place where pastors feel inferior if they serve small churches–or at least one of only a few places in Christianity where the “bigger is better” lie has eaten into the soul of the Church like termites eat into wood.  In other parts of the world, ministry is validated by pastoral acts carried out in Jesus’ Name to people, regardless of the number.

In my travel outside the USA I have known some of my richest moments with God worshipping under a tree, teaching on a dirt floor, and sitting in a simple home open for prayer to neighbors.  The promise of Jesus to be present if only two or three are gathered has been confirmed time and time again.  God understands the greatness of littleness.  We are the ones who create artificial categories to ascribe “importance” to our ministries.

The Kingdom of God has nothing to do with size.  God is present in current reality–in one encounter after another, which comes with the defined size already built in.  The error occurs when we take Reality and ascribe “Good, Better, Best” evaluations to what God calls holy across the board.

I hope you are free from “quantity envy,” or that you will be before the sun goes down today.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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3 Responses to Ministry Musings: Quantity Envy

  1. Cindy Schutz says:

    ‘bigger is better’ is the slogan on a commercial and yet we know in our hearts that this is not the case…it’s not the case in business or the church- how do we help people feel connected and not get lost in the ‘multitudes’. God help us.

  2. marcia says:

    Sadly the big corporation of Church business has crippled the mission and ministry of the church.
    It is heart breaking–we have bought into corporate america and the business of church rather than ministry. True ministry is found in many places just as the church is leaving the compounds of brick and morter and moving to the lawns, and fields of the community.

  3. Ruth Broadrick says:

    I agree with the small gatherings being as “important” as large churches with numbers being such. Feel lost in my large church even with small groups I am involved and active.

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