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Why Micro Is the New Mega

 

PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 18:12–17 

While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”

Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” So he drove them off. Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.

CONSIDER THIS

In a city of around 100,000 people, Paul had maybe fifty or so converts. This sounds more like a fledgling AA community than it does an impending threat of a religious coup d’état.

Fifty in 100,000 strikes me as statistically insignificant, yet it warranted a united and strategic attack from the Jews of Corinth. In present-day terms, we could understand the attention as if it were some sort of terrorist cell of fifty jihadists.

Come on, Jews of Corinth! This is a church for crying out loud. And it’s a pretty small one at that. Where’s the threat?

But what if . . .

. . . a church of fifty in a city of 100,000 was all it took to plant the unstoppable kingdom of God? What if a single family in a neighborhood of thirty families was all it took to plant the unquenchable movement of the Spirit of God? What if all it took were two or three gathered in the name of Jesus to upend the powers of darkness?

Maybe the greatest myth that needs busting for the people of God today is the myth of strength in numbers. The Bible tells a diametrically opposite story. Remember Jericho? How about Gideon? Elijah? Daniel? Hannah? Mary? Jesus? The Twelve?

Maybe the Jews of Corinth remembered.

What if we remembered?

Perhaps the greatest lesson the twenty-first-century church can learn from the first-century church is the power of the micro-church. 

Before we go, though, let’s be clear. Being small is not the goal either. There are scores and scores of tiny churches on the slow march of mediocrity headed to the place where churches go to die. The issue is not large or small. The issue is worship. And no, not music—but worship. In other words: Are people repenting from their sin, burning their idols, and giving their real lives over to the risen and ascended Lord of heaven and earth? It’s whether the people are about the real Jesus or just playing the religious games of domesticated church. How do you know the difference? People who are about the real Jesus are getting super real about their real lives. 

It’s for another conversation, but notice in the text how the religious establishment tries to bring the government into its service to enforce its rules. We all know where that leads, don’t we? It leads to the government bringing the religious establishment into its service to enforce its rule. Some things never change, right? Where is Gallio when we need him? 

Back to the power of small. If you have a minute today take a look at a conversation our team hosted online about a powerful micro-development we are involved with in the mega-city of London, England.

THE PRAYER 

Our Father, last week it was plausibility. This week it’s numbers. Forgive us for our adventures in missing the point. We want the real thing—the real Jesus—in our hearts and homes, churches and cities. Show us how the only thing standing in the way is our sin and our tendency to be seduced by all the things that don’t matter. On a personal note, show me how to get super real about my real life in a way leading to real transformation. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen. 

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

THE JOURNAL PROMPTS

Do you tend to judge or assess churches according to their size, putting confidence in bigger numbers while dismissing small numbers? Have you ever thought about your church as the real possibility for change in your town or city? 

THE HYMN

Today we will sing “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” (hymn 343) from our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Get your copy here.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. Amen, JD! Yes, TRUE Worship, the Romans 12:1 kind of worship. And yes, Christ’s grace is sufficient, for in our weaknesses (small numerical strength), His power is perfected. (2 Corinthians 12:9) And from a purely spiritual battle perspective, a small group of highly motivated and Spirit filled individuals is much more of a threat to the god of this world and his hoard of demons than a mega-church full of individualistic, consumeristic, passive spectators. And so these types of Christ’s “special forces” should anticipate additional attacks from the enemies of our souls. Once again, thank you for highlighting these truths.

  2. I feel called to persuade people to worship God in ways contrary to intuitional church tradition. That tradition says that people should gather as spectators for a prearranged program and hear the same man speak week after week. Where did that tradition originate?

    In 1517 a priest named Martin Luther persuaded people to worship God contrary to Roman Catholic tradition. He shifted people’s attention away from religious rituals and on to the proclamation of the Bible — away from the bread and wine and on to the pulpit. Few people could read in those days, and they needed someone who could explain the Scriptures to them more than they needed solemn ceremonies.

    Ever since then almost 100% of Protestant (and non-denominational churches) have had a one-man sermon as the center of their Sunday morning service. However, you may have noticed that things have changed. Today almost everybody can read. People also have access on their phone to more sermons than they can hear in a lifetime. So, there’s really no longer a need for a church service to be focused on a sermon.

    What we need today in a world full of human isolation and loneliness is Christ-centered community. We need heart-to-heart, Spirit-led interaction. Paul, the first century Christ-follower who brought Christianity to much of the non-Jewish world, was accused of disrupting religious tradition in Acts 18:13: “‘This man,’ they charged, ‘is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”

    Paul was turning people’s attention away from formalism and human control to the presence and active Headship (control) of the living, resurrected Jesus. He taught: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14.) And: “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.” (1 Corinthians 1
    4:26.) (Free open sharing by anyone present was the way the city council, called the “ekklesia,” met in ancient Greek cities. When Jesus said He would build His followers together, He is quoted as using the word “ekklesia.”)

    Nowadays gatherings of the body of Christ in the Western world seem to be like savorless salt — bland and ineffective at radically changing people’s life by intimately connecting them with an ongoing, fully surrendered relationship with the risen Jesus, the way the first century Christians did. It’s time to let Jesus be the active, direct Head of His body again. If churches truly want to help people heal, they need to let the risen Jesus take the wheel. We need to make church “ekklesia” again! (I’ve written a book that can help: Google: Beyond Church Ekklesia.)

    1. Steve, it’s true that the Protestant “Order of Service “ is truly a modified Roman Catholic mass. Martin Luther started the modifications, and the other reformers eventually followed suit. What most Protestants, including most Lutheran laity, don’t know is that Luther actually created three types of services. The first one was mainly for the academics, it was in Latin. The second one was in the vernacular of the common people, the one that eventually became what the “high church “ still practices today. And the third, which never took off because it required a mature group of believers to accomplish, was this: Such folks were to meet in homes, share the Gospel with one another and administer the sacraments among themselves, in other words, simple church. This information can be found online by Googling Luther’s three order of services.

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