Small is the New Large

This post is the second post in a ten part series ... Small Group Leader Training.  For more posts in this series check out the series frontpage.

Every year, hundreds of college students shelve their faith in Jesus. 

We like to think that it's because of the worldview challenge presented by the University.  This gives us an enemy.  The evil professors!  Corrupting our youth!  Evangelicals thrive when we have enemies.

But I've seen very few students drop their faith because of an intellectual challenge.  Not really.  That may be the story.  But dig a little deeper and you hear two more reasons, reasons closer to the heart of the problem. 

The first reason has to do with personal pain.  I won't comment on that here.

The second reason has to do with boredom.

All their lives, these students have sat in rows to learn.  School.  Church.  Youth Group.  Flashing lights and loud music have entertained them, educated them, led them into the Christian life.  Their circles expanded, from family to Sunday School to Big Church and Camps and Conferences. 

"Large" served and blessed.  I'm grateful for "Large."  But "Large" gets boring.

You can only grow so much through "Large."

The crowds loved Jesus, then turned on him.  They kept demanding more of him.  New teaching, more miracles, salvation!  And the mob got what they wanted.  But not what they expected.  Salvation through the cross.  The miracle of the resurrection.  The gospel ... new teaching, costly and free.  Small.

Few people saw the crucifixion.  A dozen.  A few hundred.  Fewer than gather to hear the celebrity preachers of our day.  And no one witnessed the resurrection.  There was no spectacle there.  No flashing lights or loud music.  Jesus didn't have a flesh-colored mic wrapping from his ear to the side of his chin.

But millions have heard the gospel.

Small and Large go together.  Hand-in-hand.  Jesus didn't send the crowd away ... he fed them.  He taught them, cared for them, longed to gather them in.  And still he focused his ministry on the Twelve and on Peter, James and John and again on Peter.  He travelled all over, but kept coming back to the home of Mary and Martha.  Large and Small.

I don't know how to do "Small" with high school students.  It's a challenge.  Robert Leatherwood managed to do it at Van Dyke, but I've rarely seen it repeated.  "Large" is easier to do with almost everybody.  Who doesn't have an hour a week to be entertained, educated and fed (spiritually)?

But if "Large" is failing us ... and it is failing us with college students ... Small is thriving.  Communal living.  Mentoring.  Accountability.  Local churches planting local churches and never becoming mega-churches.  Micro-churches.  Yes ... even Small Groups.

Small is cheap, but costly ... it costs time and emotion.  It's bigger and more expansive, drilling into the places lights and loud music can't reach.  It's irreplacable and fun.

Small is the new Large.

Where are you involved in Small?

The next post in this series will be on Leading a Living Small Group.  That's right, I think Small Groups have a life of their own and a life cycle all their own.  I'll post the link here after I get it published.


  1. Anonymous4:58 PM

    Great post, Steve. Praying for you guys. And for a small community of my own. :)

    -Sara Mangan

  2. Anonymous5:00 PM

    And holy smokes! Will has gotten so big! I couldn't believe that was him in the picture. Time flies. He's adorable.

    -Sara, again.

  3. Thanks, Sara.

    I was thinking about you this week. Things are looking pretty solid at FIU MMC this semester. The students are really owning the ministry, thinking about next generation multiplication and have some great strategy ideas.

    Have you connected with IV folks at all up in Tally? I think the Bodoh's have connections to some really meaningful community. Let me know if I can build some bridges for you.