Summary: This message is for all the smaller ministries and churches out there: I hope it encourages you to know small is not a bad thing when it comes to church and ministry - God is more interested in testimonies than attendance.
God loves doing the big with the small
God loves doing big things with small things.
A great example of that is the story of Gideon.
The Midianites oppress Israel for 7 years. God tells Gideon that He will use him to defeat the Midianites. Gideon is scared and doubtful and tests God.
Gideon begins his preparation for battle with Midian with 32,000 men. Midian had over 100,000 soldiers so they were still outnumbered.
God pulls a peculiar move here though. In Judges 7:2, God says “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’”
Instead of increasing the number of soldiers he decreases them more than 99%, from 32,000 to 300, leaving them outnumbered roughly 450 to 1.
God then delivers 135,000 Midianites into the hands of 300 soldiers led by a peasant.
God loves doing big things with small things so only He can claim the glory.
Unfortunately, we’re often so concerned with becoming a big thing that we miss the great things God wants to do with us right now.
The example most apparent to me is that of the local church.
George Barna tells us the average American church has fewer than 100 members.
Most small churches are so concerned with becoming bigger that they never experience the joy of who God strategically made them to be.
We must choose whether we’re more interested in attendance or testimonies.
Church growth must happen but it should only happen in line with God’s transformational work in individuals.
I think the best church growth happens out not up.
Don’t ever think God can’t use you because you’re small.
Dalai Lama quote - “If you think the small is insignificant try spending a night alone in a room with a mosquito.”
So what happens when we’re too focussed on becoming a “bigger” church?
Unmet expectations lead to frustration.
If I’m always striving for larger, I miss the joy of what God is doing and wants to do right now.
A superficial facade drives people away.
Now more than ever, people are looking for authenticity, love and community. Large churches often miss these and can rarely provide these.
Large crowds hinder fellowship and participation.
A healthy Body requires Christ centered fellowship where everyone is able to contribute. People often become insignificant spectators in large masses of people.
Large churches can quickly become so big and strong they almost don’t need God to do Great things.
Millions of dollars and thousands of people often result in less of a need to be dependent on Christ.
With all that in mind, big churches aren’t bad and small churches aren’t always perfect but more often than not, God chooses to use small groups rather than large ones.
Remember the average church has less than 100 members.
Again, God loves doing big things with small things so only He can claim the glory.
Small churches are great for authentic relationships, individual participation and they are perfect for reaching neighborhoods and communities with the gospel.
God has always used the small to do the Great glorifying only Himself.
Remember Jonathan and his armor-bearer, defeating the Philistines outnumbered 10 to one.
Remember David beating Goliath.
Jesus was focussed on small groups too.
He changed the world with 12 ordinary men.
Mt.14-15 - Jesus withdrew to a solitary place, but was followed by the crowds. After feeding the 5000 he withdrew again with his disciples and again the multitudes found Him. A third time He withdrawls with His disciples and yet again He is pursued by the masses and this time feeds the 4,000.
2 points from these passages:
First, Jesus used the small to do the great bringing glory to Himself
5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5000
7 loaves and a few fish to feed the 4000
Second, Jesus was eager to get away from the big groups to be with a very small group.
Other examples: Mr.3 - Jesus withdrew with his disciples, Lk.5 - Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed, Lk.9 and Jn.11 - He withdrew alone with His disciples.
And one of my favorites...Jn.6 - When everyone wanted to forcefully make Jesus their king, He withdrew to the mountains alone.
God still uses the small to do the Great.
DL Moody was a poor shoe salesman described by his pastor this way: “I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class.” After coming to Christ he became one of the greatest evangelists in history and began Moody Bible Institute.