a smaller group is still full of people.

Sunday mornings, I teach.

I’m part of the staff at a church and so on Sunday mornings I run around helping  with many details, but at 9:00, I teach. It’s a class of about 18 or so.

I’m aware of our larger congregation as well. I greet or chat with many people. I find cables and equipment and rooms and answers. But I like to help people understand. So I teach.

Yesterday, I almost thought it didn’t matter. As I stood in the shower, having spent some time studying, before driving the 20 minutes to our building, I thought, “but no one will be there.”

It’s spring break here. In the culture of our small community, spring break is a big deal. It’s big enough that we set up fewer chairs on the first Sunday of spring break. Last year, my first year with this congregation, I was amazed at the drop in attendance.

That’s why I thought, “but no one will be there.”

I shook my head. I remembered that there would be people in the building. There would be people in the class. I still needed to be ready.

Our attendance was a third less than usual. Our class was half the usual size.

But 2/3 of our usual attendance is still bigger than the number of people I got stressed out about for 7 years at our previous church. Half a class is still a whole group of real people with real concerns about real kids living real lives. The individual conversations that I had are still real conversations with people who need encouragement and affirmation and challenge.

I understand maximizing influence. I understand numbers. I understand the significance of traffic.

But I also understand that when your business is relationships, in our case with God and each other, your primary measurement must be “whether” rather than “how many.”

“Did you care for the people you had?” is far more important than “how many people showed up?”

It turned out to be a good morning.

Sunday mornings, I learn.

6 responses to “a smaller group is still full of people.

  1. northpointcc

    Jesus often left the crowds choosing rather to invest in a few (12) and then at times even fewer (3). Quite often, the smaller the number the greater the impact for life change. Impacting a few who also impact a few eventually impact many. It’s a good pattern Jesus set for us.

  2. Can’t say it better than Tom did.

    You’re right–we teach, we learn.

  3. A lovely, important way to look at it. When I see my blog readers or twitter followers as a group-sized number, I approach those interactions much differently than I do when I think about the individuals who are actively present.

  4. Good comments, all.

    And thanks, Jon, for taking your real life & applying it to the blog-o-sphere (and twitter-o-sphere). Those are just as real worlds.

    It’s good to remember that the small number that read my blog may be affected in a positive way by a few of the things I put there.

  5. And if it was just one, it would be enough.

    A Sunday well spent.

    Thank you for your words, it means a lot.

  6. Ah, friends. It is a delight to listen to you talk about this. You are each
    speaking well to the value of time with individual lives, shaping,
    reflecting. And, of course, each of you…and I read all of you, takes that
    same time…at least in your writing, but I know more than that, to spend
    time helping people grow. No matter how many people.

    Thanks.