|Photo Credit: Sarah Willard|
Now, I understand our family's experience may differ from many other families. But as I was reading Carey Nieuwhof's article on things that get harder in a church as it grows, this family gathering came to mind. He said this: "Human reality dictates we can only truly know about 5 people deeply and about 20 people well." So regardless if a church is 100 or 1,000, you will not know everyone well (thus the importance of smaller groups and serving teams).
In this illustration, then, those few I know well in the church are like my immediate family (parents, siblings, etc.). They become the ones with whom I primarily spend time and call first when I need something. I approximate the rest of the church, then, to my extended family (second cousins, great uncles, etc.). You probably don't see them as often, and you don't know the details of their lives as well, but you still have that family connection and still love and support one another and have a great time together. I would wear myself out trying to keep up with every member in an extended family of 60+, but I know and love my smaller circle very well.
Nieuwhof closes with this nugget: "The point of church is not for everyone to know everyone. The point is for everyone to be known." So as a church gets bigger, it must get smaller. Members can cling to the feel of a small, immediate-family-style church, hindering any potential growth, or they can embrace the change demanded by reaching more people for Jesus and they can intimately know a few as they live life together and serve together. The extended family is an incredible blessing that can do more as a whole than they can do apart, but to be truly known one must cultivate the immediate family within a local church.
How have you seen this illustration to be true in your own life? In your church experience?