I believe in the church maybe more than I believe in any other thing in this world. The church is the surest sign I know of that God loves everything he’s created; that God is not done with the world. The church is the singular reality bearing faithful witness to the truth that God has not left us here to struggle all by ourselves. God has come for us, to heal our broken hearts and this precious creation no matter how long it takes.
But the church is facing a huge problem, and it is not a problem of resistance or secularity, nor is it a problem of the culture’s hostility to the gospel. It is a problem of our own making. We have become enamored with size. We have become infatuated with all things bigger, better, stronger, higher, and faster.
If we are to be wise stewards of the church, we will need to recognize what it seems nearly all of our most celebrated contemporary church leaders have failed to teach us: that the church does not belong to us; it is we who belong to the church. We are not making the church; the church is making us. We cannot determine its success, its mission, or its outcomes.
The church will outlive all of us, that much is certain. If we are going to leave the church better than we found it, we are going to have to rediscover the necessity of margins and the reality of limits. We are going to have to sit in silence for long enough to comprehend finally the word enough. We will have to strain to see the tiny seeds of faith at work in the world around us and hold them in our sweaty palms, hoping against hope that they will germinate and grow and feed us. And we are going to have to stop our incessant need to make things grow the way we want them to grow, whatever the price.
My hope for the church is that we will find the courage to stop worrying so much about what will make us successful, and simply focus on how we can be faithful; that we will stand in the world as our own vulnerable selves offering nothing less than our very lives, and then leave the results and numbers up to God. In many ways that will most certainly be uncomfortable and challenging for us, because most people will not want this kind of life. This is the narrow road. So if we want to follow Jesus, we are going to have to learn how to Shrink.
Please share this post as widely as you dare, and thank you for your help in drawing attention to these ideas.
(This video was shot to be the Book Trailer for the book Shrink. It was filmed and edited by Bret Borquin at StoryLight in Kansas City. Thank you to Heartland Community Church for allowing us to film in their atrium. For information on my other projects, go to TimSuttle.com or purchase Shrink here.)