Tag Archives: Spirituality & Religion

The Chronicles of Church Fellowship: Mega Versus Small

Robin Hood: Men in Tights preview
Image by Jameson42 via Flickr

Recently, I was reading this article. While I won’t comment on the nature of the article, I will zero in on one stray comment:

“That’s the church of the rich,” one person stated from behind his Apple laptop.

Small churches aren’t the Robin Hood of our era, nor are mega churches the King Johns. As I wrote here, I once carried a prejudice against mega churches until I met one whose priorities weren’t just stopping short of discipling, but committed to the journey. Neither are rich people bad and poor people the only group doing it right. A church is only wrong if the message is unbiblical and if they begin to lead their congregants astray. Once we get over these barriers of mega versus small, we can walk forward as a family in Christ in unity shining with truth.

*Please no comments on the article I posted. You can post those comments on the author’s site. On this site, describe the good and bad in a mega church. Be kind. Be loving. Be encouraging.

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The Chronicles of Church Fellowship: Amazing Women

Amazing friends surround me–women who have endured or are enduring horrific things in their lives. Once in a while I feel self-pity over something and God pops their faces into my mind. It’s almost like He says, “Look at them! Look at their faith! They cannot do anything about their situation and yet they come to church every day, worshiping me with faith like a mustard seed.” I thought of them this week in prayer and in my thoughts which is why this post by Mark Roberts hit me:

Daily Reflection

by Mark D. Roberts on Monday, July 25, 2011

You Don’t Need More Faith

Luke 17:5-6

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!”

[Luke 17:5-6]

I expect the title of this reflection surprised you. Maybe it even irked you. Why in the world would I say that “you don’t need more faith”? I’ll bet you wish you had more faith. I surely do. Throughout my years as a pastor, I’ve wished for more faith hundreds of times. And I’ve heard others lament the littleness of their faith. So how can I entitle this reflection “You Don’t Need More Faith”?

Answer: Because I take seriously what Jesus said in Luke 17:6. The set up is simple. The apostles said to him, “Show us how to increase our faith” (17:5). In fact, the Greek reads more bluntly, “Increase our faith!” Like most of us, the closest followers of Jesus sensed a need to trust God more.

Jesus’ response is not what we would have expected. I would have thought Jesus would remind his disciples of what they had seen and heard. Surely, given their experience of God’s power at work in Jesus, they had ample impetus to believe God more. But Jesus didn’t do that. Rather, he said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!” (17:6). The mustard seed was well known in Jesus’ day to be tiny. Today, Jesus might say, “If you had faith even as small as an atom (or electron, or quark, or pixel). So, even if your faith is minuscule, Jesus said, you have all the faith you need to do the impossible. You have plenty of faith to participate in the miraculous work of the kingdom of God.

But if we don’t need more faith, if we have enough already, why do we live such anemic lives? Why does it seem that we lack faith? The answer, according to Jesus, lies in the exercise of faith. One with a microscopic bit of faith can work miracles, but only by exercising that faith. We will not experience the power of God working through us in amazing ways if we’re spiritual couch potatoes, sitting around watching others serve the Lord. Rather, we need to act on the faith we have. Then, and only then, will the “mulberry trees” of our lives be thrown into the sea.

According to Jesus, you don’t need more faith. You do need to act on the faith you have, however small it might be.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you respond to Jesus’ unexpected answer to the apostles who wanted more faith? Is God calling you to step out in faith in some risky way right now? Will you act on the faith you have?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, honestly, there is still a part of me that wants more faith. I want to believe you more, to have greater confidence in you, to be completely free of the doubts that sometimes haunt my mind.

Yet, I am taking seriously what you have said today. I have enough faith to obey you. I have enough faith to do what you have called me to. I have enough faith to take risks for you. I have enough faith to obey you.

So I thank you, dear Lord, for the faith you have enabled me to have at this point. I ask you to help me act on this faith, so that you might be glorified and so that I might know you more deeply. Amen.

(you can view more deeply moving posts like this over at The High Calling)

The Chronicles of Church Fellowship: The Day I Met Ruth (Guest Post)

Sheryl Lehman (also a leader in a Praise and Coffee)

 Bio: Sheryl moved to Minnesota in 1999 with her husband and two children. She is a member of the Minnesota Christian Writer’s Guild. She holds a Creative Writing Certificate from Hennipen Community College. Sheryl and her husband have two grandchildren and expect another in September. She attends this church.

She has had befriender training in her church and mentors confirmands in a two year program for seventh and eighth grade students. Sheryl started the first Praise and Coffee Night ministry in her area, which meets once a month.

My husband, Dexter, calls me a Social Butterfly at our church fellowship time between services. I get my cup of coffee and proceed to visit at each table. I take my pastors call to seek out someone we don’t know seriously. This was not hard to do as we had just come to the state of Minnesota.

We have now lived here for over ten years and I am still meeting new people in my church. I continue with my social butterfly roll although a bit slower in movement.

One Sunday morning, as Dexter was in the office with church business, I was talking to some friends over coffee. I looked to the next table and caught the eye of a woman that I had not met. She had something about her that inspired me to wave in acknowledgement. This was a feeling beyond my social norm. I would usually greet a person face to face and introduce myself, not wave from another table.

I moved to join her and her husband and found out they had come from the exact city where we had our honeymoon twenty-five years earlier. She introduced herself as Ruth and then told me things about the area and the beauty still there.

As we talked, I found out that Ruth wanted to turn her pictures into cards. I belonged to an artist writing group that I felt would benefit her desire, so I invited her to meet with us.

“We meet every Wednesday afternoon at a local coffee shop. It’s in a private room so we can share openly without bothering anyone else.”

Ruth said that she would try to get there. Then she looked me in eye and thanked me in such a genuine way that I felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit encircle me from the inside out.

Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up into Dexter’s smile. I introduced him and told him about our beloved little city from the past.

When we were on our way home, I started telling Dexter about Ruth. “She told me about the lighthouse we walked out to and the little café we visited twenty-five years ago. It is still there.”

Ruth did make it to our writers group and received good direction for her cards. When she spoke, she used bible verses as they applied.

I was later invited to her house to see a wonderful video of the lighthouses and sand dunes in the area. My excitement of memories grew and my love for Ruth grew at each Bible reference that she gave.

One day, as I shared my devotion toward this woman, I was told that I should not get over zealous as, I was told, “Even Satan knows scripture”.

This one comment caused me to wonder if I was putting too much faith in Ruth. I began to step back and think that I shouldn’t be so friendly with people and especially her.

Could I have misinterpreted the comment? Would I miss meeting a friend due to fear and doubt? These and other questions like them kept replaying in my mind.

I was also confronted with my pastors directing; we are to go out into the world and share Jesus. Yes, this last thought is a direct calling from the Bible.

Matthew 28 says;19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

To me, this agrees with what the church has taught me from childhood, tell everyone about Jesus and don’t hold back.

Ruth no longer goes to my church, she is attending somewhere else. The writers group has disbanded for the summer so I do not see her often.

At fellowship time in church, I am still a social butterfly, moving a bit slower, but meeting new friends. And, just as Pastor Jef says, we are commissioned to get in touch with everyone by sharing the Love of Jesus.