We’ve been looking a lot over the past few months at the whole theme of growth. Since the annual church meeting, both PCCs have been working through each of the six goals of our Mission Action Plan, precisely with this aim of growing the church.
Now when we think of growth we tend to think of things we need to do, and generally doing more. But growth involves other things as well. For example, you can plan for growth in the way the church is organised. When a church is very small, you rely on just a few key individuals to do a lot of things well. When a church is slightly larger you take decisions in one meeting. But when the church grows beyond that you need to have teams and subgroups, not only to share the load, but also to draw on the skills and gifts of those who are perhaps not yet part of the core of the church.
That’s why at St Michael’s the PCC recently took the decision to form teams, each with a brief to look at a key area of the church’s life. It’s a model that in the long-term we hope to adopt at St Barnabas as well. The idea is that we can draw in church members who aren’t yet part of the PCC, and enable them to start using their own particular ministries. Then when the PCC meets, rather than discussing every aspect of church life in detail, it can receive reports from the teams and carry forward their recommendations.
Back in Acts 6 we see how the twelve apostles set up a team of seven to deal with the daily food distribution. Why is this particular team mentioned? After all, I am sure there were plenty of other teams which were set up in the early church. The answer, of course, lies in the names of the team. One of them, Stephen, became the first Christian martyr on account of the wonders and signs that he performed. Another, Philip, became an effective evangelist. But their first recorded ministry was in connection with the daily distribution of food. It’s a lesson that reminds us how gifts and ministries are discovered in small ways first, and then begin to grow and expand.
It’s no coincidence that once the team is set up we read that the word of God spread. The apostles were free to concentrate on their main task of preaching and teaching, the widows were no longer arguing about who was getting what, and Stephen and Philip and the rest were learning Christian service. That seems to me a healthy model to imitate.