"Small is Strong" (Chapter 1)Subscribe
Welcome to the Z-4:10 Network Book Blog
Thanks for taking part in this online discussion of Keenon Callahan's Small, Strong Congregations. It's a first for me, a first for epc.org and a first for the Z-4:10 Network. Thanks in advance for your patience with this work in progress. I pray that this interchange with the 45 or so who are reading the book together will benefit you in your Kingdom work and that you will make some helpful connections with others in similar ministry contexts.
I'll start out with some comments - one chapter each week. My comments will be brief, intended to be conversation starters. This Book Blog will only be as good as your participation. Please add your comments - I'm much more interested in interacting with you than having you just read what I'm thinking. If you have difficulty making the system work, please . A heads up - I (and the Book Blog) will take some time off the week before and after Labor Day for some R&R with family.
Chapter 1. Small is Strong
Zechariah asked the question, "Who despises the day of small things?" (Zech. 4:10). A lot of us in North America, if we're honest, would have to raise a hand and say, "I do." I once did a word association in a workshop, asking what the word "small" brought to mind. Some of the answers that came back: piddling, limited, undersized, stunted, feeble. The "bigger is better" motto just feels plausible and right. We're infatuated with bigness in North America - big homes, big stores, big schools, big bank accounts, big corporations, big churches.
My dream is to get to the point where we can say "large church" and "small church" without assigning relative value. Big is big, and big churches do some things very well that small churches can't. Small is small, and small churches do some things very well that big churches can't. It's here I appreciate Callahan so much. He is descriptive about small, medium, and large congregations without giving any one a higher value. He places value on the strength of a congregation, not its size.
Callahan advocates that small congregations think and act like a small strong congregation. "The minute you try to become a ‘mini' mega-congregation, you will be done in." That's jarring. It runs contrary to conventional church growth thinking that says, "If you want to grow, start acting like the size you want to be." There's usually an underlying assumption with that statment - small is not what you want to be, bigger is better. Being small and strong is a "distinctive way of thinking, planning, and acting as a church." We are in a different world when we start thinking that is OK. Being small and strong is a good thing. I have to disagree with the writer who said, "Most [churches] remain small because they are spiritually and organizationally dysfunctional." Dysfunction knows no size boundaries. If Callahan is right, more and more churches will be making a deliberate decision to think, plan and act as small, strong congregations.
If you want to start a private conversation, please or give me a call at the General Assembly Office.
Please add your comments
Comment on one or several of these items - or something else in chapter 1:
Agree or disagree with my comments
Where do you agree or disagree with Callahan?
Do you agree that "In the twenty-first century, we will see a marked increase of small, strong congregations in metropolitan areas? (p. 9)
What do you think about Callahan's list of "twelve central charateristis of stong, healthy, congregations"? (p. 22)
What examples have you seen of churches remaining faithful to the Great Commission and also to a calling to be a small, strong congregation?