Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of small congregations. Partly because of certain issues that we often face (i.e., the challenge of recruiting and mentoring leaders), but also because I continue to read Kennon L. Callahan’s, Small, Strong Congregations (Jossey-Bass, 2000). This has been a very helpful book. As I read it, I’m feeling guided and encouraged as to what a small, strong congregation looks like, and what we need to become. For example, listen to this quote in the context of the challenge to recruit and mentor new leaders: “Small, strong congregations never have enough money. They never have enough leaders. With imagination and creativity, they are always giving away more than they have. The result is that God supplies new leaders and new resources to match the mission. The stronger the mission, the more leaders the congregation develops. The stronger the mission, the more generously God helps us discover the resources to share the mission.” (pp. 204-205) I find such words instructive and inspiring. As I read Callahan, I’m feeling increasingly encouraged at who we are as a small, strong church, and who we are becoming as a small, strong church. And I look forward to more growth and strength as we continue to worship the Lord together, seek his will, and discern the one excellent mission that he has for us in our second decade of life.
This conversation reminds me of a prayer that I sometimes pray as a leader of a local church. I invite you to pray it with me. . .
This is my one incessant prayer to you, hour by hour, day upon day: It’s yours. I am not fighting this battle for me. It is all yours, and I want whatever you have for me in this situation.
It is not my organization, it is yours, so I depend on your Spirit to show me what to do. These are not my people. I chose them and organize their efforts, but they do not belong to me. You entrusted them to my leadership, and they agreed to follow me. They deserve more and sometimes expect more than I can give them. What they really need is enormous. If I take their needs and hopes and fears on myself personally, I will be crushed instantly. They are yours. . . .
Yours is the kingdom, but we never seem to have enough resources! We are always lacking something, our dreams always mocking our reality, our vision always dancing around our poverty. You own everything, so what we need must seem small to you. Show me where to look for it, how to know it when I see it, how to get it, how to use it best, and especially how to be content with it. It is all yours.
So this day is yours; I am yours; these people are yours; these resources are yours. The challenges we face are yours, as is anything we hope to accomplish. It’s yours, God. It’s not mine.
–Richard Kriegbaum, in Kurt Borklund, Prayers for Today, 152.