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The Creditable Shrinking Ministry

 

witch

“I’m melting! I’m melting!” cried the wicked witch and came to her end. She had spent her life in pursuit of ‘bigness’ and power and ended shrunken out of sight!

As I sit at this keyboard I recall my past pursuits of ‘bigness’ whether it was: flying all over the country leading workshops during the long forgotten “Decade of Evangelism”, planning for national conferences to defend ‘orthodoxy, leading a national organization for denominational renewal, or recruiting students and leading a college of formation of 20th Centuries missionaries to the West. These ventures are well in my rear view mirror. I now try to eschew all effort at ‘bigness’.

Lately the Street Hope Community has been studying the Gospel of Mark. As we have been slowly reading our way through this biography of Jesus, we have noticed a pattern. Jesus seems to long to spend time with a small group. His goal is to ‘apprentice’ them in his Kingdom work. Attempts at this are consistently interrupted by big crowds. Jesus is compassionate and patient with the crowds but soon takes opportunity to ‘escape’ and spend time with his disciples. The pattern continues for the first half of the Gospel before Mark moves into the final weeks of Jesus life.

Jesus taught about the mustard seed but he also exemplified the mustard seed principle in his ministry. Smallness in the Kingdom is not to be despised. Bigness was not to be sought. The single kernel of wheat, Jesus himself, was to die and produce many seeds. The Good News of the Kingdom was entrusted to his apprentices.

This is our model. We follow it imperfectly but we deliberately seek this little way, this mustard seed ministry. Notice and acknowledgement are not our goal. We try, in our small corner, to do our small thing in as small a way as possible.

My experience was that efforts toward ‘bigness’ were often frustrating but I find a fresh liberty in smallness.

We have been thinking a lot about seeds lately as we set our eyes on the Street Hope Community Garden. The past two years we have put a lot of effort in ‘infrastructure’ building our garden into what now looks like a garden. This year our goal is to apply ourselves to improving the soil so that the small seeds will produce a good yield. Each year we use our produce to make a stew and invite the entire South End to dinner. This year we are adding a bed of wild flowers to beautify a drab South end and also help the bee population. There are a number of our members who have caught the ‘gardening bug’ and they (not me) will lead the way this year.

One of the great challenges of smallness is raising support. My part-time job will be paying less this coming year, combining this with growing administrative fees and the difficult economic times, we will be trusting God and his people for even more support. Our garden project is budgeted at $2,000 this year. Could you please pray for this, as we look to Him expectantly?

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One comment on “The Creditable Shrinking Ministry

  1. Well said. I haven’t heard you explain bigness and smallness in your ministry experience in this way before but it all makes a lot of sense. Exciting stuff!!!

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