Pastor’s Friday Comments (07.02.21)

Being part of a small congregation obviously has its challenges. There aren’t as many resources, volunteers have to take on more responsibilities. You know what I’m talking about.

However, if we weren’t also aware of the fact that there are also some distinct advantages to small churches, I doubt that most of us would have joined a church like Parkway in the first place. The ability to know one another, more direct access to the staff, a feeling of being needed. Again, you know what I’m talking about.

Wednesday morning in my devotional reading I was reminded of yet another reason that I am blessed to be part of a church like Parkway, not only because of its size, but because of its spirit. Richard Rohr was reflecting on the life of Israel and the early days of a community that he helped to found:

“Beginning with the books of Samuel, we can see a tension starting to develop between charism and institution, between the freedom of the Spirit and the inertia of society. Israel started out as a people on the move, following God’s lead. During the period of the judges they followed charismatic leaders in times of crisis. By about the tenth century B.C.E., however, they were starting to become a large and settled nation in the land of Palestine. They found themselves needing more structure, more organization, even more bureaucracy to keep themselves together as a people.

“Many prayer groups have experienced this sort of tension as they start to develop into a community. In the early days of the New Jerusalem community, it was so nice when we were just a few people who prayed in a room together! We could go merrily on our way, trusting in the Lord, and everything would work out fine. But then the group got larger. We had to have more meetings; we had to take care of this and that; we needed more organization. At that point it gets very easy to stop trusting God and to start doing it all ourselves”

Having led larger congregations, I can tell you that they are often filled with godly people, but the temptation to trust the institution and its leaders, rather than rely on God’s presence and direction, is very real. On the other hand, in smaller congregations, when the tasks of ministry seem so great and the resources so small, firm reliance on God is an absolute necessity. And that’s what I think we have found to be true at Parkway.

As you accept new pastoral leadership, I pray you will look to that person for guidance and support, but that God will always be the one in charge. Then there will be nothing that God will lead you to undertake for which God will not also give you the resources to accomplish it.