So in the last post about growing pains we spoke about not feeling like we have to know everyone. We want to be warm, welcoming, open & hospitable to everyone, even while we invest deeply in significantly fewer people than that, often through Growth Groups.
I mentioned there were four things I wanted to look at. Here’s the second one.
Village is bigger, but that’s not bad(der)
For those who have been at Village for a few years, they’ll remember when things felt small. In fact, you may even have come to Village because of that fact – it was small, and you liked small.
There’s no doubt that small can be good. You might know everyone, you might feel more connected, you might feel like there’s more opportunity to get involved. These things are good. So often we conclude that smaller is better than bigger.
The thing is, big & small aren’t moral categories. They’re just preferences.
It’s at this point in our discussion that you might be thinking, “ok…but I prefer small”. But two things made me realise that that’s not the point. Here’s what they were.
First, I didn’t think about numbers, I thought about people. When Village started, after the first couple of months, there were regularly between 45 & 55 people in a 120 seat lecture theatre. Lots of gaps, lots of room to move around, lots of vacant seats, lots to do. But I used to look out at those seats, and I used to picture those seats filled with non-Christian friends of regulars. And I began to realise, while I like things being small, I’d be willing for things to change if it meant more people coming to know Jesus and to grow to be look like him. My preference for size didn’t disappear, it just got put into some perspective.
Second, I realised that as we grew there were opportunities that didn’t exist when we were smaller. We started raising up the next generation of gospel workers, put on not 1 but 3 trainees. We started being able to help Krosswerdz more substantially, notably in freeing up Nat to spend more time developing it. We could run big projects to reach into the community – like the Trivia Night and the Community Carols – something we could never have done when it was just 45-55 of us. We could support Christians working overseas, contribute significantly to Christmas Projects for the needy, and more recently we’re starting to see how we can harness our energy in the area of social justice to start to make a more coordinated impact. It’s rarely painless growing. But pain isn’t necessarily bad. And I realised after a while that I could grieve what I thought was being lost, or I could turn my mind toward the opportunities God presented me now, with the great people he’d put me with, even if I didn’t know everyone as I used to.
So let me ask you to consider this – how could you view growth at Village differently? How could you see the empty seats as opportunities for people to come to know Jesus, or for them to grow to be like him? And what opportunities can you dream up that we – God’s people in a world that desperately needs Him – could sink our teeth into? For me, asking those questions changed my perspective completely. It’s no longer a question of good or bad for me, it’s a question of opportunity.