True City is a movement of churches in the City of Hamilton in which together they seek to work for the good of the city. Their vision statement begins as follows:
“TrueCity is a movement of congregations in Hamilton, ON who recognize God has called us to join Him in His mission to bring His best to our city and beyond. We work to simultaneously pursue mission at a congregational level, at a collaborative Church-in-the-City level, and as God’s people scattered daily across all sectors of our city.”
Their common goal to impact Hamilton has allowed them to move beyond their denominational differences and work together for the common good.
Can this work for small churches?
As much as I love the work that True City is doing, this blog entry is not primarily about them. It is about the potential that small churches have if they can catch the True City spirit. It makes so much sense for small churches with their limited resources to work with other churches that also have limited resources.
A few years ago I heard about a remarkable situation in a small town in Northern Ontario. There were six churches in that town, three of which would probably be labelled as mainline and three which would call themselves evangelical. These six churches had come to realize that together they were the church in that town. They were six different branches but together they were the church.
As “the church” in the town, they came together each month for a noon hour prayer meeting which was attended by more than one hundred people from all six churches and by some people who didn’t go to any of the churches. By working together they were able to do something that none of them could ever have done alone.
The danger of numbers
When church growth is measured entirely by the number of seats in the pews, any thought of cooperation and unity goes right out the window. A church cannot focus entirely on numerical growth and still on cooperation with other churches at the same time.
A church cannot buy into the value that all the churches working together form the church in their town and plan to be the largest church in town at the same time. An emphasis on numbers eventually creates a me-first mindset that at its worst can actually rejoice at the problems that other churches in the area might face if it means additional people coming to their church.
Jesus loves his church
The value of any church is measured by the fact that Jesus loves his church and gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25). That truth is so easy to forget. As a church you do not gain your value because of your size or the programs you run or the budget that you are able to set. You have value because you are part of the bride of Christ and you are loved by the bridegroom. You do not have to reach a certain size before you can qualify as the bride of Christ and you don’t have to reach a certain size before you are the object of his love.
Remember though that the church down the street is part of the bride as well and is loved by the bridegroom. Wouldn’t it be great if two or three churches all loved by Jesus could work together to extend his kingdom here on earth? Something to think about as you plan for the year ahead.