Brandon O’Brian has a book out describing how a church can be effective by choosing to be small, and adjusting how they do church into that context, measuring success by effectiveness not size.

your church–whatever size–has everything it needs to be used in extraordinary ways for the Kingdom of God. You don’t need more resources or more volunteers; you just need the imagination to see how God has equipped you uniquely to carry the gospel to your neighbors.

OBrien says there are lessons for large churches as well.  The habits of fostering intergenerational dialogue, of working together in small groups, of focusing on projects where a mass of people would overwhelm the ministry.  It changes how you plan.

The key lesson, though, is to affirm to congregations that small is not bad, if  you are small for the right reason.  Rural churches, size constrained churches, targeted community churches.  God can use churches of all size if they are operating his way.

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Thanks to Ed Stetzer, for including an interview with Brandon O’Brian on his website.

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I was recently redirected to Christianity Today’s site, where they reprinted a post from SmallGroups.com called “Single-Minded Love.” In it, Sue Skalicky suggests that if we want to be real in our outreach, we should find someone really needy who is outside our normal circle and befriend them.

Her small group chose Mandy, a 21-year-old single mom of a 20-month old daughter, an 8-month old son, and a boyfriend in prison.  Sue says they “showed her the practical love of God in various ways: Diapers, food, rides to work, babysitting, books, haircuts, a listening ear, and unconditional love.”

So when Mandy was out of luck and stuck on the highway, she knew who would care.  And Sue got a chance to minister in the name of Christ.

Sue encourages the rest of us to find a single mom to love on.  Or an elderly person.

And if that’s too much to start with, give a thank you to your hair stylist.  Just get moving.

Are we making disciples or are we just playing church?

Mick Turner suggests that the way we do “discipleship” is usually misguided and rarely as effective as we had hoped. In his recent post, he suggests that most attempts at “small groups” are “little more than social gatherings with scripture readings and a few prayers thrown in.”

Turner says “the mission of the Body of Christ, as given by Jesus in the Great Commission, involves going into all the world making disciples. This noble commission requires more than just seeking converts or adding names to church rolls. It necessitates exactly what Jesus called for: disciple making. While an increasing number of churches are becoming more involved in disciple making, many, like my friend Judd’s church, don’t really know where to start.”

But too many of us either ignore the new believer training, or give them more / deeper instruction than they can handle. Its like giving prime rib to a baby. They can’t process the theology and it does them no good. New believers need simple discipling.

He’s also got an odd 6-step program that sounds a little new age (almost heresy) as a fundamental understanding. Still, I take his conclusion to heart. As we “continually incarnate that plan and purpose in the world, …we develop Sacred Character” which is the likeness and representation of our God on this earth. And the only way to continue the functioning of the faith is by properly discipling new believers.

If you want your congregation to be renewed, disciple them, starting with the simple basics of faith and make sure they have them down pat before moving on. It will pay great dividend.

c2008, Mike Mitchell, all rights reserved