They say that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Thousands of years ago a man named Agur, son of Jakeh, made a similar observation. As he looked at animals in the natural world, he noted that "There are four things on earth that are small, but they are exceedingly wise" (Prov. 30:24). Other animals, not to mention human beings themselves, may be larger, stronger, and more majestic, but these small animals have power and stamina that the larger creatures often lack.
As the pastor of a small church, I find Agur's wisdom to be exceedingly good news.
I used to read Leadership journal, and I got some good stuff out of it. I only quit reading it because I have more to read than I have time to read it. But one thing that irritated me about Leadership is that the authors were, naturally, obviously successful pastors of large and thriving churches, and thus what captured their imaginations often seemed to be pertinent only to obviously successful pastors of large and thriving churches. So it started to get old skimming articles on topics like how to leverage your missional, multi-site church's resources among its annual conference on Christianity and Creating Culture, installing a prayer labyrinth in its community center in a newly gentrified neighborhood, and closing the back door on its small group ministry in order to crack the 300-cell barrier. Okay, I just made that article up, and it's not a fair impression of the totality of any given Leadership issue. But if you don't understand everything in that sentence, and even more so if you do, you can appreciate how easy it is in a small church (say, arbitrarily, 100 or less worshipers on the average Sunday and one pastor) to think, "We can't do anything because we aren't this and we don't have that."
That's where the wisdom of Agur comes in. Agur says, "Hey, size isn't everything. Wisdom is much more important. If the small are wise, they can punch above their weight; they can actually do things that are impossible for the big boys to do." This isn't to say that the goal of the small is to remain small. But it does mean that if the small are wise, they can do great things. They might even remain small, but in the kingdom of God their impact is huge.
Next time I'll begin meditating on how Agur's animal observations can be applied by small churches, lessons that I'm wrestling with how to apply myself. If you're in a small church or familiar with them, please join me and make comments; let's meditate together.