Why do we think we have to do and be “the next big thing”?
It must be a function of our celebrity culture, and a testimony to its ability to creep into the church. It’s really not the way to make things happen.
Instead, entrepreneurs will tell you time and again that the essential ingredient to getting from ideation to reality is a small but loyal community.
3 examples from my experience:
1. The Cordial Churchman. After Ellie made her first bow tie for me, we had 24 customers within 24 hours. If BMW or Apple had 24 sales within 24 hours of their latest offering, they’d be devastated and perhaps bankrupt. But those aren’t new ventures. If you’re starting from scratch, however, and you have 24 people who are compelled by what you’re doing—even if it’s in the first 24 weeks rather than 24 hours—then you know you’re on to something. You’ve created something that people desire. And today, those first 24 bow tie customers might have the lowest quality products ever made by The Cordial Churchman, but they are likely the most loyal, proud customers the company may every have.
2. Hill City Church. We began our church in a similar way. Perhaps within 24 weeks from when we decided to pursue planting a church in Rock Hill, we had 24 people who had heard our story, and who had begun to imagine how the next chapter in their story might be written on the same parchment as ours. We didn’t have outstanding, superhuman people. We certainly didn’t have an amazing church planter! But together we had formed a small, loyal-to-the-story community. And eventually we became a community of compelling storytellers to others who were looking to write the next chapter in their story.
3. Spiritual Apprenticeship. I have just begun to disciple 4 men along with their wives. What we share is a common desire to learn from Jesus and from one another how to disciple others. I have gathered them together and will be focusing a lot of energy and time on growing and learning the ways of Jesus with them. They are a small-but-loyal start to what I hope will spread throughout our church community and into our neighborhoods. We’re all compelled by the process and excited by the potentialities.
In each of the three cases, we’re learning that camaraderie and community are the essential building blocks of a project that we want to see go further in due time. In each case, the initial ownership by the small-but-loyal demonstrated that what we were creating was worth continuing to pursue. And in each case, we have learned that the small-but-loyal become delighted co-creators, helping us discover what’s compelling and what’s not.
You might have dreams to reach the world. But your dream is not where you start, and a preoccupation with it might ironically end up being a hindrance to its own realization. You can’t “reach the world”. Shrink your “world” down to 4 or 24, and then reach the “world”. Start by gathering a small-but-loyal group who are as passionate about the project as you.