Sometimes someone comes to Grace Hills from a larger church because they’re “looking for something smaller.” My reply is always the same. “You’re welcome here, but I hope we let you down.” It’s not that we’ve set out to be a “big” church or a megachurch. But we also haven’t set out on this journey merely to settle at any given point. Therefore…
We start small, think big, and go all in for a big God.
That’s our second of ten core values at Grace Hills, and it’s something we have to remind ourselves of often. It’s easy to give into our autopilot and merely coast along on yesterday’s success stories, but we want to think bigger.
Anytime we talk about the need for churches to grow larger, people come along quickly with objections.
- You don’t have to be big to matter to God…
- Large doesn’t mean healthy…
- People are more than numbers…
- We should be multiplying instead of adding…
All of these responses are true when properly understood, but none of them become an excuse for settling while more people die without Jesus. The fact is, both big and small matter to God, large certainly doesn’t always mean unhealthy, people are more than numbers but numbers are a measurement of how effectively we’re reaching people, and we should actually be multiplying as we add.
I’ve hung around leaders who were more concerned with the crowd than the individuals in it. These leaders are often so driven by numerical success that they fail to balance growth with other values. And growth sometimes comes to them, but other people often pay the price.
With our hearts in the right place, focused on Christ and burdened for people, why should we be so passionate about thinking big?
- Thinking big requires us to envision that which isn’t reality yet. In other words, it requires us to have faith like Nehemiah who could see the walls before they were ever finished being rebuilt.
- Thinking big honors God and tells the world we believe He is capable of more than we’ve given Him credit for so far. God once told an aging barren couple they would birth a nation that would outnumber the stars. One of them laughed, one of them believed, and the rest is history.
- Thinking big shows God we take Him and His abilities seriously. Imagine being in the crowd behind Joshua when he and the priests set foot in an overflowing Jordan River, waiting for it to part.
- Thinking big when our resources are meager leaves the credit for success with God alone. God once cut an army of many thousands down to just 300 men who would then take on 120,000 Assyrians and defeat them.
- Thinking big takes the Great Commission seriously. Jesus told a small band of men to go after the whole stinkin’ world for Jesus! They stayed in Jerusalem where it was safe. When persecution came, they scattered and went everywhere sharing their faith.
I hunger for a movement of God in which so many lives are being radically changed that people around us are swept off their feet by it all. I don’t want to be held back by budgeting concerns, small and expensive buildings, massive debt, stuffed and stagnant savings accounts, or complex institutional machinery. Instead I want to take risks, try things that fail, and attempt huge objectives for the everlasting God.
For us, this means we will add staff a little earlier than we probably should. We will go to two services before we really have to do so. We will move out of the theater into a more semi-permanent space before it seems affordable. And we will keep dreaming and brainstorming and cultivating our hearts toward loving northwest Arkansas in real, practical, sometimes uncomfortable ways.
Think a little bigger.