In a small church, we are often burdened with the idea that we can't do enough to make a difference. Whether we look at how much money we can donate, how many times we are able to volunteer, how many programs we offer, or countless other areas, we look at our small church and see a deficit. Consciously or not, we are all guilty of viewing the small church as 'lacking'. The Bible however, tells us a very different story.
The following is Mark's account of a story repeated in all four gospels:
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
They said to him, "That would take more than half a year's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."
When they found out, they said, "Five - and two fish."
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Mark 6:30-44 (NIV)
If this isn't a powerful lesson and encouragement, then I don't know what is. Here we see Jesus, to the disbelief and astonishment of his closest followers, taking a few loaves and fish and feeding a hungry crowd to satisfaction. Not only did he feed them all the wanted, but there were leftovers! When all his disciples thought they couldn't possibly have enough to make a difference, Jesus showed them what could be done if they put the little that they did have into his hands.
We are a small church, like many others across the country. Our resources are limited. And it can be easy to compare what we have to what larger churches have and begin feeling inadequate. This passage serves as a reminder that God can do incredible things with what we give him, whether it's a lot or a little. Every little bit that we can give to God will play a role in growing his kingdom and making a positive impact on the world around us.