The gospel was built on failure.
What we now know as good news started as very bad news.
It was never supposed to work.
For a long time, it looked like it never would.
Jesus was a small church pastor.
Every time I say that, people rush to remind me that massive crowds followed Jesus. Which, of course, is true.
It’s also true that Jesus is the founder, the savior, the builder and sustainer of the Church – all believers at all times and in all places. And, starting with 3,000 on the Day of Pentecost, that’s never been small.
But Jesus also had a very pastoral relationship with a specific group of people that, by virtually any definition, we would call a small church.
Small churches are a vital component of the most powerful force for goodness the world has ever seen – the gospel of Jesus lived in and through his body, the church.
We don’t need to build one more church building, gather for any more seminars or devise a new strategy in order to be ready for the greatest movement in history. Even though all of those are great.
We just need to say “yes” to Jesus.
But what is Jesus asking us to say “yes” to?
As Easter approaches, many pastors will be tempted to tell a feel-good story of spiritual renewal, personal growth and universal hope to our larger-than-usual congregations.
That’s a good story.
But I want to encourage you to tell a better story.
Tell the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Not as a metaphor for change and hope. As a real-life narrative.
The world doesn’t need more Episcopalians.
No one wakes up with a hunger to be a Methodist.
No child says “I want to be Assemblies of God when I grow up.”
We live in a post-denominational world. The day of being Presbyterian because we grew up Presbyterian is ending. Actually, it’s already ended. Some of us just haven’t caught up with it yet.
People who don’t go to church aren’t longing to wear any of the labels church people wear so proudly and fight about so angrily. And they shouldn’t.
But they all have an ache to draw closer to Jesus. Even if they don’t realize it. Yet.