the incredible shrinking church

God's Sandbox

sometimes the smallest ones can make the biggest difference…

A few years ago, we began to see our church grow while our church attendance declined simultaneously. Although people were leaving (for various reasons) something bigger in our church was stirring. The outside of our church body was shrinking, yet the core of our church body was growing stronger. Our souls were laid bare before God. We surrendered to His leading, His guidance, grace and wisdom, even as people left.  Last summer, our attendance hit at an all-time low, yet we knew God was moving in our midst. I personally struggled thru some of the families leaving, yet deep within my soul, the Lord assured me He was to be trusted thru this. My perspective began to shift. The smaller our church became, I grew more confident. This may seem backward… But God.

He whispered to my spirit and reminded me of Gideon. Gideon was the least in his father’s house… his clan was the weakest in Manasseh, yet he was called a ‘mighty man of valor’. The Israelites were being oppressed by the Midianites, they felt they had been forsaken by God, but God was calling Gideon to rise up… when the Lord spoke to Gideon He said, “but I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:16) Gideon went thru his own process of testing and trusting God, his own journey of doubt and fear. His journey continued as He trusted God to be faithful to His word and calling… and Gideon prepared to defeat the Midianites.

He gathered an army of 32,000. Whoa. No problem. We’ve got a huge army. The Midianites will be no match for us! But God… He was probably chuckling as Gideon was gathering his army… Oh Gideon, don’t you remember what I told you about striking the Midianites as ‘one man’? You are the least in your family… from the weakest clan… This is why I chose you. So God reduced Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300 men, sending home those who were fearful, trembling and kneeling down to lap water with their hands.

With a small army of 300, Gideon and his men defeated Midian. God shrunk this army so no one would boast Israel saved themselves. With the reminder of Gideon’s journey, God was shaking the foundation of my own heart… my need to keep all trust in Him, to boast solely in Him and take my eyes of any circumstances. Regardless of our shrinking church, I know our church is incredible! God was challenging my foundation of fully trusting in Him. Knowing without doubt – He. Is. With. Me. He is with our incredible shrinking church!

Often God chooses and uses the few – the weak – the least, to change the world. The foolish to shame the wise. The weak to shame the strong. So that the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:25-31)

Moses lacking eloquence of speech, leading the Israelites on an exodus out of Egypt from the clenches of a stubborn pharaoh…

Joshua and Caleb 2 spies fully following God, ready and willing to go after the land promised to them…

David the small in stature shepherding over-looked son of Jesse, killing the giant Goliath…

Jonathan and his armor bearer climbing the hill defeating the Philistines…

Elijah challenging over 400 prophets of Baal to an altar duel calling down fire from heaven…

Little children, the greatest in the Kingdom of God and our example, Jesus teaches for us all to become more child-like…

and Jesus beginning His ministry with 12 simple fishers of men set apart to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.

I know our small church is incredible. More importantly, I know the people within our church walls are people God is using to share Jesus with our community, to reach the earth for His Glory! God is searching the earth for hearts ready to trust Him… surrendered and willing to be poured out for Him… people and churches ready to be used to advance His Kingdom – In spite of our past, our size, our circumstances, our weaknesses – He. Is. With. Us. We can trust. 1 Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

And the story rages on. . . In Him, Leslie

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