Six months ago I went to go work for a small local firm in San Diego. I had just spent over six years working as a regional manager for a national architecture firm, and I had reached the end of my rope. The travel, the politics, and the pressure were beginning to wear me out, and I needed a huge change. The mantra of ‘grow-grow-grow’ can often come at the expense of personal happiness and a lack of efficiency. Nevertheless growth both in terms of dollars and staff size were our measures of success.
Working for a smaller company has made me realize that ‘bigger’ is not always ‘better’. I would not trade the world for my position in this small company. Each person here is a team player, working hard to build something great. Sure, we want to grow the business, but we have no intentions of taking over the world. I love the ability that each of us here has to bring value to the team.
The reflections on my job have made me realize how much I have ‘downsized’ my life since I started my career over a decade ago. The ambitions of my youth to conquer the world have given birth to the idea that success means being in a place where you can enjoy and appreciate life. To some people, that means being a top paid CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. To me, now, it is much different.
I think the entire world has subscribed to the philosophy that ‘bigger’ is indeed ‘better’. The number one goal in most organizations today is growth. We can never have enough and we are never quite satisfied. Perhaps we should take a step back to realize that ‘Bigger’ is not always ‘Better’. ‘Better’ is ‘Better.’
God has been challenging my new philosophy however.
About a month ago, our small coastal church underwent some large changes. Julie and I started attending our church in an effort to get away from the ‘mega’ churches that seemed so impersonal. Now that I think about it, this may have been my first ‘downsizing’ decision. We loved the interconnected feel of our church, and the ‘rawness’ of the coastal community. A handful of voulenteers each week put on each service, cut fruit for snacks, led worship, and did the sound. We all pitched in. It was not perfect, but it was real. That is what we loved about it.
Last month, we merged with another much larger church and now we are an individual campus of something much ‘bigger’. Our family has grown overnight from a few hundred to a few thousand. New procedures have been put into place by the ‘corporate campus’ to help make us ‘better’ and polish up the rust a little bit. It is an exciting time for our pastor and the congregation, but I am scared to lose the intimacy of our old church.
I miss the rust.
I don’t know what it is inside of me that likes a smaller church. Perhaps it is the interconnectedness of the body of believers around me that makes it special. Maybe it is my disenchanted church view that I was a part of growing up always listening to pastors want ‘bigger’ churches with more numbers. I have asked myself if it is truly about more exposure to the gospel or if it is about more revenue to build new buildings. What a terrible thing to think! In my heart, I know most pastors, including ours are dedicated to reaching more of the lost, but somewhere along the way, have we defined this goal as having a bigger church?
Several nice things have happened as a part of the merge. We have access to a ton of resources we did not have before. There is much more help available to create the slide shows for sermon content, lead small groups, and come up with new outreach ideas. It has brought a level of polish to our small coastal church body.
I still miss the rust.
I feel insanely selfish for missing the intimacy and rockiness of our old small church. We are God’s servants, and it is His master plan that is being carried out. Lord forgive me. Church is not here to make me ‘feel’ comfortable. It is here to serve a purpose, and with several campuses, we can be more effective in serving out that purpose.
Why do I miss the rust?