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Small Community - Large World or The Rabbit Trail

posted 19 Dec 2019, 09:52 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 13 Jan 2020, 14:00 ]

A Menno Minute

with Ryan Dueck

Pastor, Lethbridge Mennonite Church

Small Community - Large World

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world…. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.

    G. K. Chesterton, Heretics


A few months ago, I followed a rabbit trail from a blog that I occasionally read to the website of the church where the blogger was a pastor. It had been a while since I had visited the website of an American evangelical mega-church, and after a few minutes of browsing I was beginning to experience a bit of sensory overload. There was a page for every conceivable ministry under the sun—addictions, young moms, men, young adults, sports enthusiasts. On and on the list went.

Everything about the megachurch’s website and staff bios was polished, well-produced, and professional looking. There was a whole section of the website that narrated what a typical “Weekend Experience” might look like. There were slick videos and creative graphics and a whole host of other media crammed full of imagination and inspiration.  

I thought about how I might describe a “weekend experience” in our little community. Well, we straggle together around 9:45 for Sunday School… Sometimes musicians are rehearsing… Nearly always the pastor is engaged with full-on hostilities with the printer as he tries to get the sermon he finished late last night out the door… Sometimes the kids make snacks downstairs… The service starts around 11:00… We sing, we smile, we pray, we listen to one another. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes there are outbursts in the service, whether from kids or from L’Arche members who regularly worship with us… As far as “weekend experiences” go, I suppose you might say it’s “mixed.”

It's easy to feel small when held up beside the mega-church and all it can offer. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I’m not anti-megachurch. I have dear friends who are part of churches far larger than my own, and I love and respect them greatly. But even though I admire some of what the big churches are able to do, I’m a small church kind of guy.

I like it that I know people’s names, that I know a bit of their stories. I like it that the kids just call me “Ryan” with no “pastor” prefixed to it. I like it that we can bring food to church and share it with one another after the service. I like it that we have a volunteer lawn-mowing sign-up sheet. I like it that we have people who are miles apart theologically and politically, yet we can still come to same table, the same Lord.

And, in my better moments, I’m glad that my companions are given to me rather than being the ones I might naturally choose, whether in the local church, in our MCA community, or beyond. I thank God for my small community and for the large world they invite me to live in.