Friday, November 30, 2007

THE MOST OR THE LEAST?

THE MOST OR THE LEAST?
By Keith Giles

There's a post on Seth Godin's blog today about a group of Belgian Monks who create a very limited amount of beer each month. You can only buy two cases at a time, at a specific time each month, and once they're sold out that's it for the month.

They do not label their beer bottles. They see quality as being linked with scarcity and the limited availability of their product adds to the value.

Seth Godin notes:
"There are two ingredients to this remarkability. The first...is the idea of ritual. By changing the way the product is created and distributed, they add a religious and spiritual element to the process (even if they weren't monks). Second, they're not trying to sell the most. That's critical.
"When you try to maximize anything, you work to be efficient, to fit in, to appeal to the average person, since that's where the numbers are. Every time Budweiser makes a decision, it seems to make sense, since they're trying to sell the most beer. Most embraces systems and policies that make sense. But most rarely succeeds."

Read Seth's complete blog here:
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
**

This article resonates with me on several levels. One, because it identifies a lost ideal of quality being a limited resource. In the house church we major on the few. We listen to everyone who wants to share or speak, whether they are eight years old, eighteen years old, or eighty. Everyone is important. Everyone has a chance to be heard, and to use their talent and their gift, and to be encouraged in their daily walk. No one gets ignored or left out. At least, that's our goal and it's much more within reach when you have ten people in a living room versus three hundred people sitting in rows facing the same direction.

I also love the idea of scarcity adding value. I also love the concept that "Most rarely succeeds." In today's corporate world, which has largely invaded the traditional Church model, it's all about going for the "most" you can possibly get. Pastors want the most members, they want the most tithe, they want the most amazing worship bands, they want the most talented volunteers, etc.

The Church has marginalized the least in order to get the most. That's pretty sad to me, especially since our Lord, our example, (Jesus), was more interested in the least than he was in the most. He always saw the one in the crowd. He stopped for the woman with the issue of blood and acknowledged her. He saw Zacheeus in the crowd and singled him out. He travelled to Samaria to meet with one woman beside the well. He walked through a sea of crippled people to ask one man beside the pool of Siloam "What would you have me to do for you?" and healed his legs so he could walk again.

The American Church has fallen short of the high calling of Jesus Christ by aiming for the "most" and has been blind to the importance of focusing on the value of the few.

Many years ago, as an on-staff pastor at a traditional church, I was expected to meet regularly with the leaders in the congregation. Each pastor was encouraged to identify those who exemplified leadership qualities and seek out friendships and "meaningful relationships" with them in order to influence them to volunteer for our ministry area. This was meant to help us build our leadership team and grow our ministries by recruiting the brightest and the best from among the flock.

I always wondered, "Who is going to identify our losers and meet with them each week?" I knew a lot of people who were far from leader material. Most were having a hard time with their marriages, or struggling with their finances, or trying to find a full-time job after being laid off. Who among the pastoral staff was going to make it their weekly duty to arrange a lunch with these people? Who was going to listen to their story? Who was going to encourage them and pray with them and provide Godly counsel to them?

For me, that's what being a pastor is all about. It's not about preaching a great sermon. It's not about putting more butts in the seats. It's not about developing the shiny, happy, successful leaders and mobilizing them to run the programs and make the Church business successful.

Being a pastor is being a shepherd. It's about feeding the sheep. It's about spending time with people and loving them as Jesus loves them. It's about being willing to associate with people of low position (see Romans 12) and being a servant to all (see Jesus).

I guess that's why I left the traditional church to start a house church. I wanted to spend time with every day losers like me and encourage them to walk with Jesus and help them to see the Kingdom.

Even now, everytime I mention to someone that our Mission House Church is going well the first question I get from people is always, "How many people are coming now?" As if the sheer numbers of people attending each week are what we measure success by. How did we get that into our heads? Jesus never measures success by numbers of people. Why do we insist on thinking this way?

When I say the house church is going well I mean that I see people growing in Christ. I hear them talk about how God is teaching them something new. I hear them share how God has helped them step outside their comfort zones. I observe them loving others and giving generously to people in need and I can see the character of Christ being revealed in them. That's what I mean when I say that our house church is being blessed and doing great.

It's not about "Most", it's about the rare quality of investing in a few people for an ongoing and consistent measure of loving support and encouragment.

That's Church, my friends. That's subversive…although it shouldn't be. It should be pervasive.

Peas,
kg

2 comments:

The Dan Ward said...

More is overrated.
Most is even more overrated.

Less & least, few & small, these are things of the Kingdom.

Richard said...

Your comments and Seth’s article pull up very deep emotions, several, “yea, that’s what we were doing” and “now I get why I was frustrated” emerged. As “good is the enemy of great” so most is the enemy of relationships and relationships are the quality I seek.