If you have just read “Tiny is the New Small” then read this. Its the other half.
The other side to being tiny is being part of something that is massive. This takes some getting used to. The scale is huge and out of proportion. But when Jesus described the Kingdom, he told parables of tiny things that became massive. A small piece of yeast that caused the whole lump of dough to rise. A tiny mustard seed that became the largest of the trees, so large the wild birds could see it and nest in it. Not the tame farmed birds - they only see the coop or cage or boundary marked out for them by their farmer. Sometimes you have to move away from the farm in order to get a birds eye view of how big things really are in the household of God.
Like many of you, church happens for me in tiny bites but at the same time I am part of the bigger picture - I am a part of the church in my town and in my region. Beyond my region, I am a part of the body of Christ which finds physical expression in every country on earth. I am a living stone being built up into a ginormous temple. There are millions and millions of us. We are the most international, most dynamic, fastest growing organization ever seen. And at at times, we have been among the worst: our history as the bride of Christ ranging from occasional dumb blond to the sinister dark lady with a dagger in her hand.
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Yes, we have done stupid, pathetic, dark, dirty, evil things in the name of what we hold dear and we are deeply ashamed - look at the Crusades? What were we thinking? We are quick to shift the blame from our Shepherd to us, his sheep because he clearly did not sanction these things, nor approve them, nor ignore them. For this reason, some were put to sleep. And for this reason, God often recruited ungodly armies and kingdoms in order to punish and discipline the ones he loved. And admitting membership in this one body, this one massive family, means i have to accept its history both glorious and dodgy.
So this thing that we have signed up for is massive - it is huge and it involves the masses. There is the tiny meeting in Lydias house and the massive gathering in Solomons Porch. Jesus found Himself at small events like roadside conversations and AND massive events like a hillside teaching retreat, Matthews party and the Feast of Tabernacles. Today we have tiny coffee shop gatherings and a massive cloud of Jesus followers including 650 million evangelicals. Tiny and Massive.
In my learning and reading, I try to give space to the massive scope of the body of Christ. If the books I am reading are all from the West, I make a special effort to read Indian and Chinese authors. I seek out Africans. I choose to sit with Latins or East Europeans at meals just to listen in and learn more of this living temple I am a part of.
In the rhythmic patterns of my worship gatherings, our family gives space for both the tiny and the massive. We make meal times special, because so much of church life and love happens around food and a table. And we also travel out to larger gatherings to be accountable, to turn up, to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together in a large group. But I mean REALLY big groups.
- My tiny meetings during the week are tiny non-carbonated events - we don't have to drive our cars to get there (like carbonated churches) and most people can walk. But massive events take effort, travel, time and expense.
- Denominational meetings are not massive enough. One stream a river does not make. Denominations are just another feather in the peacocks bum - pretty but not the only colour.
- Conferences are helpful but are usually too focused, too targeted and too comfortable to be massive.
- Blogs can allow different groups who never get together physically to converse and discover new things about this massive building we inhabit but blogrolls are often homogenous - an elite club of like-minded people. I hope my blog-rolls in the future will include more people from the Bride of Christ who disagree with my distinctive view of things but love me anyway.
- Festivals are a little closer to the kind of massive but they are still only a piece of the puzzle.
- Citywide and region-wide gatherings are a type of massive church and I try to turn up to these when they happen.
- The Great Wedding Supper of the Lamb - now thats massive - masses of people from every people, every tongue, every nation - an accurate picture of the massive collection of tinies, all invited by Jesus the Party-Thrower. Maybe thats a good picture to start with.
The problem with the kind of churches I used to pastor is that they were not small enough to be tiny and not big enough to be massive. Anyway - all I am saying is that there is tiny and there is massive. And the tiny is smaller than we think. And the massive is bigger than we think.
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