Today on my blog I am excited to introduce Jeff Allen. Jeff is a friend of mine and I was delighted to write the foreword to his new book that was released yesterday, Small Church on a Big Mission. Jeff is a Pastor in Colorado and leader at 3DM.
To celebrate the launch Jeff has written a 6 part blog series and I wanted to share part 1 with you, along with the foreword.
My first book published in 1991 was called ‘Growing the Smaller Church’, the publishers wanted a book that encouraged English clergy who were wrestling with the realities of leading smaller congregations. Now as then, the vast majority of congregations in Europe and the US are small and yet it is the pastors of the large congregations that get to write most of the books. But the small church has a vital – I would say indispensable role – in the mission of God, and so I was delighted to be asked to write the forward to Jeff Allen’s new book. ‘A Small Church on a Big Mission’ is an excellent place for any leader of a typical sized church to begin considering the issues of discipleship and mission. This book will help you far more than the books written by mega church pastors operating in contexts that are so unlike your own they may as well be describing mission on a different planet!
We have all marveled at the television programs that document the vast variety of ecosystems on our planet. Like the biosphere, the world of human culture is vast and infinitely varied and if we only had big churches we would find it difficult to relate to these multiplicities. But small churches can embed in the cracks and crevices of our culture and reach the multitudes of different groups and subcultures found within it. If our call, as the Great Commission suggests, is to reach every people group, then we need small churches that can identify with these people groups and share the gospel with them in contextually relevant ways, the broad-brush strokes of mega-church messaging will simply not suffice.
But don’t get me wrong ‘A Small Church on a Big Mission’ is not a study in mega church bashing – no one wants to do that. There are two very clear paths in the future development of the American church, one leads to mega the other leads to micro church and both are absolutely essential. We will continue to need churches that are contextualized to the mass-market consumer culture of North America, able to communicate in broad gospel categories to large swathes of the population. But at the same time we will need churches that can operate in the smaller ecosystems of the nation’s subcultures.
To a discouraged group of returned exiles struggling to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem Zechariah said ‘who despises the day of small things?’ small things are important to God and so should never be despised by any of us. You may feel that your work is the aptly described as ‘the day of small things’ but in this book you will find no lament or critique, only hope, opportunity and celebration. Your work is not insignificant, on the contrary, your church like all the small churches in America present an enormous prospect for God’s mission to our nation. As urban and rural communities become more fissile and liable to form smaller units of culture the Lord will sharpen these precise tools of missional engagement to do great things in our world. My prayer is that as you read this book you and your congregation will be sharpened to do the work you are uniquely called to do.
– Mike +
Celebrating being a Small Church on a Big Mission
While we often read and hear stories of the big companies and larger churches in our communities, statistics reflect that the significant majority of businesses (99 percent in fact) and churches are small.
Perhaps there is something to be said for the blessing of being small that our culture often chooses to ignore. For such a time as this, in the midst of a rapidly changing context of church and ministry, I am blessed to serve as a pastor of a relatively small church. The journey of being pastor has been far from easy, yet it has also been a journey filled with blessings that I could never have imagined decades ago—blessings that have helped me celebrate that I am called to lead a small church on a Big Mission.
Small Church on a Big Mission: Cultivating Missional Discipleship in smaller churches is basically a journal of discovery. It chronicles my discovery of who I am as a beloved child of God and reflects the character and competences that God has been developing in me over the last fifteen-plus years through a variety of ministry experiences. Most importantly, this book communicates a host of reflections on the call of discipleship and mission that God has placed on my life. This journey of discovery has led me to celebrate the blessings of being small while engaging in the Big Mission of revealing the Kingdom of God.
The Focus of the Book
If you are looking for a resource that will provide you with a “let’s grow the church fast” strategy or provide you with the next program to inspire your church forward, this is probably not the resource for you.
If, however, you are looking for practical principles for moving and shaping your culture toward discipleship and mission that celebrate the bigness of God’s Kingdom, then this book is definitely for you.
The Structure of the Book
This book shares practical principles of discipleship and mission personally applied as a disciple and leader within a small church on a Big Mission.
This book is divided into three sections reflecting my journey of Personal Transformation, the Practical Realities encountered along the journey that many have asked me to share, and the Purposeful Direction undertaken together with other leaders in our context as a small church on a Big Mission.
Each chapter begins with a story followed by helpful resources and tools that have been applied in each chapter’s topic area. Each chapter concludes with a few questions for personal reflection and discovery as you consider taking steps in your own context.
It is my hope and prayer that this resource will be a blessing to the abundance small church pastors and leaders both locally and abroad. – Jeff
Follow the rest of the blog series over at www.3dmpublishing.com