Visiting megachurches, I can’t help thinking how well people know each other in a large church. I attended a few with the loud music and large screens, and couldn’t connect to other people. Everybody has different tastes when it comes to music and worship styles. The church was like a big theater. People worshiped and then went home. I am sure that megachurches have effective ways to connect members through small groups, but there are too many examples how even the most successful church crumbles under the pressure of erecting new sanctuaries and then having to move to another site because the congregation overgrew the size of the building again. Then, the congregation ends in debt, the stress starts eroding the relationships within the church and the church cries for help. We all know that all size churches are important as long as they teach and preach authentic faith and approach growth gradually. Raising disciples requires patience and time. That’s why I got amused when I saw a robe with the label, “One size fits all.” People are not of the same size! That is why we have sizes S, M, L, XL and even 5XL. That label reminded me a story of a crocodile.
A man in Moscow liked to have things that his friends didn’t. In Russia, we call people like him “ORIGINAL,” with the stress on “A.” He decided to get a new pet, so a little crocodile found a new home in the man’s one-bedroom apartment on the fifteenth floor. The man was thrilled and couldn’t put down the shoe box with the crocodile in it. The cute little baby crocodile tried to bite the finger with his tiny teeth. The friendship had begun.
In a few weeks, the man discovered that the box became too tight for the pet. It was time for an upgrade. The crocodile stretched in his new home but, in a few days, he hardly fit into it. The owner found a larger box, not knowing that crocodiles grow as large as space allows. It is like their bodies are programmed to fit and to expand into the size of the box whatever the size is.
Soon, the man realized that he ran out of possible upgrades and released the crocodile into the bathtub. In a few weeks, a mature animal reached the length of the bathtub and got out on the floor. The man heard pounding steps directed toward his bedroom, locked himself in, opened the window and began shouting, “Help, Help!!!”
Luckily, someone noticed him, after he had to throw a few things out of the window, and the crocodile was taken to the Zoo by a team of trained professionals.
It is exciting when the church grows. But growth requires patience, attention, and wisdom to connect people to each other and build strong relationships based on love and compassion. Francis Street First future depends on many people who keep our church growth at heart. Today, because of the Mother’s Day, I will mention only women: Jane Sachs, who brings guests to our church every Sunday; Lynette Barr, who nurtures her Serendipity Class for decades; Candy Sheehan, Jennifer Tanguay and Cindy Allen, who nurture our children and youth; Karen Gibson, who restarted the Upper Room Class and took courage to meet outside to invite the community; Mary Buckler, who connects our congregation with Cardin Park Elementary School; Susan Gentry, who takes care of all finances; Carlene Makawski, who unites us all to feed the poor; Luetta Silvey, who coordinates Holy Communion with all our Communion Stewards; and finally Sherril Lewis, who coordinates all our relationships to make them last for years. Sherril connects people of all ages to make us feel at home that when the church starts growing fast, we will not be lost.