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What if the next big thing… is a million little things


We’ve been trying a lot of new things here at Christ United over the past 2 years. Offering a new form of worship with Meditative Worship. Offering new studies with “The Chosen.” Adding a “Faith Word of the Week” to worship. Offering an LGBTQIA+ Bible study. Packing meal kits and making emotional support rice bags. Getting an AED.


I’ll admit that with each new thing we try, I’m hoping, “This is it! This will be the next big thing at Christ United Church that will catch like wildfire!”


My own internal drumbeat, my mantra, my personal mission statement over the last 2 years has been to innovate, experiment, and try new things. I’ve been wanting to find that next big thing.


But is that all we really are as a church? Are we only here to continually try new things, experiment, and innovate, in order to find that next big thing?


The Early Church


The early church wasn’t trying to find that next big thing. To be fair, they were experimenting and doing something new. They had these new teachings to figure out how to implement and let other people know about, from this guy named Jesus who had died and was raised back to life. That was something new.


Those first followers of Jesus gathered together over a meal. They sang songs together. People spoke about the sayings of Jesus.


Those early followers of Jesus didn’t have buildings; they gathered in people’s homes. Those early followers of Jesus didn’t have formal, structured denominations; they had new leaders who were figuring it out along the way. Those early followers of Jesus didn’t have big social ministries with forms to fill out in order to feed the poor; they simply had people gathering food and distributing it to those in need.


What those early followers of Jesus did wasn’t big and flashy. It was simple. Basic even. Minimalist.


"The Next Big Thing" Syndrome


I wonder if I’ve fallen for what I’m going to call “The Next Big Thing” syndrome. My symptoms are: always looking for that next thing, the next wow factor, that next flashy new program, the next ministry innovation, that will turn things around, not only at Christ United Church, but for the church at large in the United States. The cycle of symptoms goes like this: try something new, and then go on to the next thing.


As I look at what we should do at Christ United, I’ve increasingly noticed that I’m looking for that thing that will be as big as the Lutherans and Episcopalians joining together 25 years ago (a new idea at the time), or changing the worship space from pews to movable chairs in the round 21 years ago (new for Lutherans and Episcopalians), or getting coats to the homeless that was done 6 years ago (new for Christ United Church).


But I now wonder, does searching for the big, new flashy thing, make me miss the small things we already do at Christ United, right now?


Those small things like: calling someone up that I haven’t seen at church in a while. Taking food to someone who is sick. Volunteering to help with worship on Sunday morning. Hearing a need at the church, whether with money, or some supply need, or a need for a volunteer, and filling that need. Praying for people who have a prayer request on Sunday morning. Reading the Bible and talking about it with friends.


Those have been the things churches have done for centuries. Those things haven’t changed for centuries. Those things will continue for centuries to come.


Both/And


Now I’m not saying searching for the big things are entirely bad, or that innovating and experimenting is bad. I will be the first to say that I love to experiment and try new things. I think we need to do those things.


I just don’t want innovating and experimenting to cause us to miss the little things, those small moments, that make up our everyday lives as followers of Jesus, while we search for the next big thing.


It’s not, either we do big things, or do small things. It’s not one or the other. It’s both.


Our lives are made up of both big and small moments. And these small things, that we make sure to keep doing, can eventually add up to a big thing: a healthy, vibrant life and a healthy and vibrant church.


Peace and blessings,

Pastor Alex Aivars

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