If you know me, I am a visionary architect with big dreams and strong work ethic. He gave me an amazing wife and teammate. GayO and DanO…Go and Do! The Lord allowed us to start a ‘successful’ church, a ‘successful not for profit organization’ and a ‘successful’ model for equipping and unleashing the now and next generation for ministry and mission.
But…these start-ups have taught me so many lessons. Let’s focus on one fallacious concept that I thought was important. “Bigger is better.” Is it ok to be small? Might you need to ‘GROW’ smaller by reducing your efforts to be better and healthier in the most important things?
Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” I answered, “A plumb line.” And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins. Amos 7:7,8
Have you ever used a plumb line? It is basically a string with a weight attached at the end. Builders used a plumb line to show a true vertical. Some things are so far off plumb that the variance is visible even to the untrained eye. The Tower of Pisa is a ridiculous example, 12 feet, 10 inches away from being perfectly vertical. In a spiritual sense, we may become blind to our own leaning away from God’s standard if we do not compare ourselves to that standard. God showed Amos a figurative plumb line to illustrate how far away the people of Israel had moved from him.
Obsession with Bigness
Many American Christians have this idea that if it is big, it must be better. Better is better, not bigger is better. Our obsession with “bigness” can be a reflection of American values, rather than biblical ones.
Metaphorically we buy into mission/ministry porn… we have an unrealistic depiction of an experience you’re never going to have and it distracts us from the real and glorious thing. Desiring to be BIG will leave you far short of loving the people and churches you’re with right now instead of seeing them as kind of a stepping-stone to something… bigger.
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What if we scaled our efforts from a ‘bigger’ mentality to a ‘smaller’ more minimalistic paradigm?
Who do you say that I am? Jesus asked. “I Am who I Am” and that is enough…period…mic drop! Well, of all the commandments….of all of the teachings in the pages of Scripture which is most important? Love God…Love People…in that order. BOOM… he must have picked up the mic….another…mic drop!
It is ok to be small when you are new and building a foundation for a healthy movement of God or re-assessing your reality and growing smaller as you get healthier. Health is the issue. It is ok to be small when you are limited by resources and capacity, pursue excellence…doing the best that we can with the resources that we have to the 100% glory of God.
Faithfulness and fruitfulness are better biblical measurements than organizational size. This is not an excuse to be ‘small.’ Healthy organisms either grow or multiply. Are we leaning into or further away from God’s plumb line. Have we opted for bigger or better? Have we chosen what is popular over what is wise and right? Have we valued numbers over health?
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10