Monday, May 30, 2011

38 and Counting

Yesterday we gathered with our church family for our normal time of Sunday fellowship.  This week everyone who usually comes was present.  This kind of surprised me because I figured some folks would be out of town for the holiday.  Anyway, it was nice to see everyone.  In addition, we had several visitors.

As we were sitting around, I counted 38 people.  Because our number has reached this point, we are faced with some important questions.  This is not a comprehensive list, but here are a few we must ask ourselves:

At what size is a simple church no longer simple?

At what size do we begin to lose intimacy?

At what size can most homes no longer hold everyone?

At what size will visitors no longer desire to come?

At what size does mutual edification become a struggle?

At what size are we less motivated to invite visitors?

At what size are folks too intimidated to talk?

We are already discussing some of these issues as a church family.  It's a struggle because we all enjoy getting together on a regular basis. I don't know what is going to happen, but I'm excited to be a part of it. We may remain together, but we may decide to split/multiply/separate into smaller gatherings. I'm sure we would all still get together occasionally and would still see ourselves as part of the church in Savannah.  We would also see each other here and there during the week.

If we do divide into smaller groupings for weekly gatherings, we then have to decide how to do this.  This brings up other important questions such as:

How do we divide?

Who goes where?

Do we divide into two groups of 15-20?  Or, do we have the larger group send out smaller groups in a sort of missions fashion?

Do we normally meet with the same groups, or do we rotate in some way?

Do we take proximity and distance into the equation, or does that not matter?

I admit that I have mixed emotions about this.  Part of me looks forward to the discussions, but another part of me does not.  There do not seem to be any easy answers.  That means that as we talk we will have to all work through many of these things.  This takes time, effort, patience, and sacrifice to the desires of others.

Clearly the most important aspect of all this is seeking the Lord's will.  We are already praying about it.  I'm sure he has a plan that is better than anything we can come up with.  I'm hoping that we as a group can together discern what God wants and come to group consensus about this.

We face challenges as we deal with 38 people.  We certainly aren't going to move into a store front or rent out a school building.  Rather, we'll remain in homes as we see in scripture.  The question now is how to move from gathering in one home on Sundays to gathering in multiple homes.

The nice thing is that the Sunday gathering does not and should not define the church.  Therefore, even if we do not see some folks in Sundays, this in no way means that we cannot see them at other times during the week.

In the end, 38 is great.  It presents challenges that are worth working through together.


Eric said...

What a great problem to be facing. We also do simple church where we are at and we have thought about all the issues you are currently dealing with (but not being at the point of dealing with them.)

My thinking is that we will split the one larger group into two groups, but I also like your idea of sending out 2 groups from the original. It also depends on whether or not you have people willing to lead/facilitate the new groups. We will cross that bridge when we get there, but we are confident in the Lord that we will get there. In my thinking, this will be a process that will be repeated many times over in time.

I will be praying for you and your church as you seek the Lord.

In Christ,
Eric T.

Steve Scott said...

"Occupancy of this room not to exceed 10,000 persons." LOL

Eric, you've got a challenge before you, but as they say, it's a good problem to have. You could plant in the San Francisco area!

Eric said...


We are in a bit of a unique situation in that any of the dads could act as elders. No problems there.

We need to make decisions in such a way that is positive for the body. I'm not sure yet how that will work.

I'm glad you are dealing with similar things. You are right that the Lord will lead. It's his church after all.

Eric said...


Can a Phillie fan survive in the Bay Area?

Jason_73 said...

Hi Eric,

I always heard your never suppose to use the words "split" or "divide" when talking about multiplying...

Those generally have negative connotations.

Just my two cents! Congrats btw. Sounds like a good problem to have!

Eric said...


I have found myself tripping over what words to use. Everyone in the fellowship knows what we are talking about, but wording is important. How to go about it all is the tough part.

Tim A said...

Go to the Head in prayer, with thanksgiving - the whole body. Don't lean on your own understanding. Warn against off the cuff comments that do not involve a foundation of the Word and prayer. Submit to one another. This is a perfect gem of a time for the body parts to participate.

Is leadership reproduced for the new cell?
Do a trial run every other week.
Has your gathering gone house to house yet, where the husband of the each other home has practiced hospitality and facilitating the gathering? We were taught to build this into the foundation of the fellowship as a key leadership building element as soon as brother and their wives are willing and have demonstrated the simple qualifications of oversight.

Every cell multiplying in the physical world is an amazing miracle of God's direct working. We cannot see how it is done until it is done. In the spiritual cell life of fellowship, it must also be seen as acts of faith - we cannot see ahead but we have a hope in God's enablement so we move ahead - each step by faith, not by sight. He makes the growth happen.

Eric said...


Thanks for the words of encouragement. You have given me some solid things to think about.