Friday, May 13, 2011

Elephants vs rabbits: small is the new big

“Small is Big” shatters the mega-church myth. Tony and Felicity Dale are medical doctors turned church planters and authors; and they’re church planters with a twist. They’re not out to set new attendance records, but rather their goal is to teach others to plant churches that multiply. It’s not longer about how big your budget, building, and membership role is – what matters is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that new believers are excited enough to go start their own church. They’re not out to bash mega-churches, or ‘legacy churches’, in fact they write about working together with voices from those disciplines to improve everybody’s products. This book is about a return to basics, following New Testament models, to make a huge difference as small groups of people become churches, become the Church.

I had mixed reactions to this book. I don’t think there was anything that I disagree with theologically or procedurally. I’m glad to hear someone take a stand other than the one of the majority voices that bigger is better. Multi-site, multi-campus, multi-pastor, orchestra-sized praise bands may have their place, but not everyone is comfortable there, and much of the work of the church is done by the people connected in a small group, so there is a lot in common.

As a seminary graduate and professional pastor, I don’t like the idea that churches don’t need pastors; that the New Testament church got along fine without us. But often I find myself thinking that it would be so much fun to be able to minister, to be the church without having to deal with building funds, budgets, bylaws, choirs, and administrative boards.

But the bottom line is that if more of us – mega church, legacy church, or cell church - were focused on being the church, on multiplying the church, on making disciples, on fulfilling the Great Commission, we might see a marked difference in the world from the way it is.

Even though I enjoy being “the pastor” I can think of several people who need to read this book: the ones who’s first response to any request for help is “but you’re the pastor, you’re the professional, that’s why we pay you”. The work of sharing the gospel is not delegated solely to the pastor…it’s the job of every Christian, and this book offers some good advice on how lay people, can be effective in multiplying the church.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I have been asked to mention as part of every Web review that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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