"You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were tough." - Revelation 3: 8 (The Message)
I started my ministry in small, rural churches. I did my pastoral work standing in dairy barns and over coffee at kitchen tables. I even wrote my seminary master's thesis on small churches and their strengths and challenges.
Many of our churches have gotten smaller. Even our larger churches aren't all that big compared to mega-churches.
But there's no relationship between church size and faithfulness. And besides, we have it on good authority that what the world counts grand and glorious may not be so to God; and what the world counts unimportant and insignificant may, in God's eyes, be precious and extraordinary.
Writing to one of the seven small churches in his care, Philadelphia, John of Patmos said, "You don't have much strength, I know that." And yet . . .
Small churches, small projects, small communities too, from most perspectives, don't have a great deal of power or importance. And yet . . . and yet. The first century church of Philadelphia kept God's Word, persevered when times were tough.
We live in a time and place that is fairly drunk on bigness, on money, power and celebrity. Bombast trumps the quiet voice of conscience — or so it seems. "More of Everything," the slogan of a major retailer, could be our culture's credo.
Scripture reminds that God sees things very differently, that small can be beautiful, that ordinary things can be extraordinary, that those the world calls "losers" may be great, and that a small community of faith can be so faithful that its name is not only written in Scripture, but in heaven.
God, help us to persevere when times are tough, to keep your Word when the world has gone crazy. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.