Feeling Small, Walking Tall
Sermon shared by Damian Phillips
Summary: If you are feeling too small to be effective for the kingdom, then the words of Jesus Christ in these two parables will have you convinced that you can begin walking in confidence, knowing that you are useful to the Lord.
Audience: Believer adults
About Sermon Contributor
The passage of Scripture that we will view tonight contains two short parables – “The Mustard Seed” and “The Yeast.” I have entitled our sermon “Feeling Small, Walking Tall,” and the passage that we’ll be studying provides a great opportunity for sharing a motivational message.
You are probably wondering, “Why does the pastor feel that we need some encouragement?” The reason why is because there is a huge misconception about the church floating around today; one which says that the traditional church, and even small congregations, are ineffective at reaching people in our rapidly changing culture. If you are someone here tonight who holds this misconception, or fears that perhaps it might be true, then the words of Jesus should convince you otherwise.
A short definition of a traditional church, according to Thom Rainer, is one that is older than ten years. It makes use of Sunday school as its primary small group Bible teaching ministry. It has Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening services; and it shows a greater resistance to change than younger churches do. Based on this information, I think we can easily say that our church is traditional.
Skeptics are saying the traditional church can’t reach the world for Christ effectively anymore, but is this really true? Thom Rainer did a survey of nearly two hundred churches of various sizes, denominations, worship styles, and ministry approaches; and here is his conclusion in his own words: “There was virtually no correlation between the growth and outreach of the church and the type of church – traditional or nontraditional.”
Did you hear what he said about growth? There isn’t much difference between traditional and nontraditional churches; and this observation could also be applied to small and large churches. Growth is about the same proportionately. If you are feeling too small to be effective for the kingdom, then hopefully this evening, the words of Jesus Christ will have you convinced that you can begin walking in confidence, knowing that you are useful to the Lord.
Feeling Small (vv. 31-32)
31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
We have here “The Parable of the Mustard Seed.” The mustard seed appears to be tiny and insignificant, but “God transforms a tiny speck of mustard seed into a six-to-ten-foot-high shrub.” David Garland says, “Even modern scientific knowledge of the DNA structure of the mustard seed does not dispel the mystery of its growth . . . One could dismiss the microscopic seed as something inconsequential, but it has a power within itself to [grow] into something that one cannot ignore.”
I have never seen a mustard seed before, but growing up on a tobacco farm I observed something that I imagine is quite similar. My dad used to take two small packets of tobacco seeds, containing perhaps two or three teaspoons in each one, and he would empty the contents into a bucket half-full of fertilizer. He would then mix the fertilizer and seed by hand, and then broadcast the mixture across his tobacco bed. Within a few short weeks, these small
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