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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This morning I am thinking about two very small congregations and what a study in contrast they are. I recently met with both groups on the same day and am struck by their similarities and their differences. In an attempt to preserve some level of objectivity for you, the reader, I will refer to them as Congregation A and Congregation B, or simply as A and B.

First, lets look at some similarities. On the day in question, A had 6 people present, and B had 5 in attendance, not counting Joan and me. Two women and four men were present at A, while three women and two men participated in B. I estimate the average age at A to be 51, while B was about 31. The difference is significant but probably not hugely so. Both gatherings included a blend of new converts and 2nd or 3rd generation members. In both cases, some of the people who attended travelled from another community more than 40 kms. distant to be there. In both cases, it is the converts who travelled. Both congregations have very little income at this point.

Now for a look at some differences. Congregation A has a building, while Congregation B does not. For A, the building has become very much a part of their identity. Members of A regard the building as an important asset they can regretfully no longer afford. The selling of the building and the end of the congregation’s life appear to be both synonymous and inevitable. In contrast, B has no such identification with a physical location, and the lack of one is not an issue. They have never had a building and never wanted one. A building is not seen as either an asset or a liability. They never talk about it and probably never even think about it.

For A, the lack of congregational income is pivotal. It means the building must be sold, and without that asset there appears to be nothing to hold the group together. The leaders of B know they do not have much money, but it is not crucial. It just means there is a need to increase generosity as soon as they can.

During A’s congregational meeting, no ideas were put forward about things the congregation could still do or ways those present could work together to reach out to the larger community. The time for such ideas has passed, and the tone of the meeting was somber. Congregation B, on the other hand, is all about ideas. “Lets go to the mall on Mother’s Day and hand out helium filled balloons with a big smile and our logo on them! We can invite people to meet at the food court for fellowship after. Why not go to the park and do a bar-b-que and give away hot-dogs? Lets do a video survey of people on the street and ask what Spirituality means to them!” There is no shortage of ideas, and the enthusiasm for those ideas is creating wonderful, empowering community. The tone of this meeting was hopeful and enthusiastic.

Two small congregations with much in common, including valuing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Two small congregations, but what an interesting study in contrast!

Posted by Carman

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