John Hain @ Pixaby
What happens when twenty-nine leaders get together to talk about small churches? Last week we discovered the answer to that question.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Guelph Bible Conference Center, leaders from across Canada came together to talk about small churches. Some really good things happened as a result. I am going to mention just two of them and then leave you with a challenge.
One of the things that characterized the leaders at the Consultation was diversity. They represented about fourteen different denominations covering a wide spread of theological positions. There were representatives from four different seminaries stretching from Alberta to Nova Scotia. There were leaders from para-church organizations that work with small churches. While the majority of those attending were men there was a solid contingent of women contributing to the discussions.
For all of that diversity, those attending were united around the value of the small church and the need to serve them better. The discussions were lively with a variety of ideas shared but there was a unity of purpose underlying everything that was done. People were there because they believed in the value of the small church. That common belief resulted in a strong sense of unity within the consultation.
More years ago than I like to remember, I attended a School of Evangelism that was part of a Billy Graham Crusade in Boston. I was one of more than a thousand pastors attending the event. We would attend sessions during the day and the crusade meetings in the evenings.
I clearly remember sitting in a large meeting room in the hotel, where we stayed, listening to the speaker when I realized that every speaker I had listened to fell into one of two categories. Either he was a member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team or he was the senior pastor of a church with at least 5,000 people attending on a Sunday morning. I looked around the room and realized that most of us who were there probably came from churches with less than 200 people in attendance and many with less than one hundred.
I remember thinking at the time that most of us would go home having had a wonderful week but with very little that we could actually put into practice in our small churches. The main focus of the event was to have large-church pastors tell small-church pastors how they could become large-church pastors.
The seed for this Consultation was planted in my mind at that School of Evangelism. I saw a need for an event in which the main focus of the event was not how to make a small church large but how to make that small church impactful.
For two days last week the focus was on the small church. With more than 8.000 small evangelical churches in Canada that is where a lot of our focus needs to be. It is my prayer that this will be the first of many events centered around the needs and challenges of small churches. For two days, it was fun to talk about nothing other than small churches.
At the end of the Consultation, I had two very distinct thoughts that I believe came from God. The first was that what had happened over the previous couple of days was a work of God. The Holy Spirit was present in every part of the Consultation and I believe he will continue to guide us as we search for the best ways to serve the small-church in Canada.
I have been reading through the story of Gideon in my devotions for the past few days. It has been a great reminder that God can take the small and do great things. It also is a reminder that God often takes ordinary people to accomplish his purpose. It is my prayer that out of this Consultation God will take small churches with ordinary people to impact communities all across this land.
The second thought that I had was that as great as these two days were, they were just a beginning. I have a feeling that my life is going to get busier than ever and I welcome that because I know that God is moving. I have no idea what he could do through 8,000 small churches completely sold out to Jesus Christ but I sure would love to find out.
My challenge that I want to leave with you is to come aboard and be part of what God is going to do in the months ahead. I will be expanding on this in future blogs but while the events of last week were still fresh I wanted to lay out the challenge. If you would like to be part of future events, respond to this blog and I will connect with you.
Blessings on your ministry as you are part of what God is doing through his church here in Canada.