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.