For who hath despised the day of small things? Zechariah 4:10
I can remember when PCC was seven people meeting in my living room. I can remember when it was 35 people, 50 people, 100 people, and so forth. I can remember those early days of smallness and I am very thankful for them. In some ways I miss those days.
One of the biggest strengths that PCC has always possessed has been our relational emphasis - we are a very relational church. In fact, we built ourselves on those strengths. We didn’t have all the bells and whistles that other churches had, but we knew what people were looking for – they were looking for connection, friendships, and belonging. To that end, our vision event stated that we existed to “build people” before we would ever build a church building.
We had get-togethers all the time in my home. We encouraged people in our congregation to form dinner groups and go out together. We had Christmas parties in one another’s homes. Our small groups’ ministry was organic – not programmed or institutional – but organic. That is, circles of friends formed naturally and easily and these people spent time together. We wanted to keep ourselves very personal. During those days Renae and I would host an event in our home called “Newcomers Coffee” about once every two or three months. This was an opportunity for recent visitors to our church to meet us informally in our home. It was a great connection tool and always a lot of fun. Then our church staff joined the effort - this way newcomers could also meet the whole team. The last time we hosted this event was about three years ago when there were something like forty people in my house. We simply got too big and had to discontinue. Our overriding motto was “growing larger and smaller at the same time” and it worked!
A lot of things have changed over the years. We are still a very highly relational church, but our attendance has expanded beyond our ability to keep up and connect everyone. This is something I want to fix. Some of this is the natural result of growth, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept it or even like it. Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us to not despise the day of small beginnings.
For PCC to maintain its personal warmth for everyone, more people are going to have to get involved in the lives of one another. It can't be about "bigness" beyond the Sunday services - we must scale things back to "smallness." Our emphasis can't be big groups, big classess, big seminars, big picnics, or other big events - it has to be about smallness. Smaller is better sometimes. Take our Unite Family Picnic for example: about eight-to-ten people do virtually all the work for an event that attracts about 150 others. I think they've had enough. It would be much better if the same 150 people transformed themselves into 15 smaller groups who had a picnic together as close personal friends. We are facing those kind of issues across the board in our church and they need to be fixed. Our emphasis must be organic, personal, and relational - not program oriented or inclined to biggness, but smallness.
One thing I am certain of: no matter how large PCC grows (and we want to grow as large as God cause us to), we can maintain our personal warmth and relational nature by getting smaller all the time. We must do this.