Every church leader knows that January 1st is just another date on the calendar. If you are a leader in a church, the new year begins on the Tuesday after Labour Day. I’m not sure that it is appropriate to wish all of my readers a happy new year but I do wish you all a year in which you see God at work in the lives of those who attend your church.
I can’t think of a better way to begin a new year than with a note of encouragement so I am going to share with you five of the most encouraging quotations that I have ever come across. If I have shared some of these in other settings, I would encourage you to read them again. I visit them often whenever I need a reminder of the importance of what I am doing and the greatness of the one for whom I am doing it.
Without comment here are five of my favorite quotes. What pleases me most is that they are every bit as true of the small church as they are of any other size.
Ray Stedman, Body Life, p. 1
“To some the church is nothing but a snooty religious country club with traditional rituals as sacred as those at a fox hunt. To others the church is a political action group, a pressure bloc of do-gooders, waging battle against social ills. Some see the church as a kind of non segregated waiting room for people expecting to take the next bus for heaven. Some view it as a kind of low calorie dessert for any who want something nice that won’t hurt their public image. Others think of it as a regular meeting of religious hopheads enjoying their weekend religious jag. To many, the church is a kind of waterboy to the game of life or a religious democracy trying to legislate morals for the rest of the world.
“Let us be perfectly honest and admit that the church has been all these things, at many times and places. It has amply justified every bitter charge leveled against it. Nevertheless, despite its many weaknesses and its tragic sins the church has been, in every century since its inception, the most powerful force for good on the face of the earth. It has been light in the midst of darkness so dense it could be felt. It has been salt in society, retarding the spread of moral corruption and adding zest and flavor to life.”
E. Stanley Jones, The Resurrection of the Church – on what pattern?, p. 9
In the person of Jesus Christ the Christian church holds within itself a motive and power that does produce changed character. So Jesus Christ is the center of worth and hope of the Christian church. We have this treasure in an earthen vessel. Don’t point to the earthen vessel – its cracks, its outworn inscriptions, its outworn shape, its unmodern appearance, but rather look at what it holds. It holds the person of Jesus Christ. As long as it hold him, it holds the most precious, the most potent, and the most present value that this universe holds, barring none.
Christopher J. H. Wight, The Mission of God, p. 24
It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.
David R. Ray, The Big Small Church Book, p. 18
I have two fundamental convictions about small churches. First, they are the right size to be all that God calls a church to be. They are not premature, illegitimate, malnourished, or incomplete versions of “real” churches. Second, they are a different breed of church. A small church is as different from a large church as a Pekingese is from a Saint Bernard. They look, feel, think, and act differently. Differences in size yield crucial differences in form and function. Ministry, not in tune with and tailored to these churches’ differences in size, is doomed to failure.
Dr. Henry Cloud, Integrity, p. 172
On the wall was a huge sign that read:
No problems, no profit.
I just stood there for a moment and stared at it and now, eighteen years later, I still stare at it frequently. It is forever etched in my mind. That’s because it answered the questions that I walked in with and has been one of the answers to explain the growth and success of so many people I have seen since then. The ones who succeed in life are the ones who realize that life is largely about solving problems. The ones who can get with that find much success and the ones who can’t, don’t.
A final word
As you consider these quotes, I hope that they are an encouragement to you.
Ray Stedman reminds us that down through the centuries the church has been the most powerful force for good the world has ever seen.
E. Stanley Jones encourages us to consider that the true value in any church is found in its relationship with Jesus Christ.
Christopher Wright adds purpose to all that we do by reminding us that we are part of God’s mission here on earth.
David Ray tells us that the small church isn’t inferior or superior to large churches. It’s just different.
Henry Cloud points out that those problems that you will face this year are what life is all about. They are issues to solve on your way to success.
Blessings on you all as you enter into a new church year.