God in the Small and the Mundane

Tim Chester has just posted a great little post on the spirituality of washing up. At first glance it sounds silly, but if we are serious about having Christ in all areas of lives, that must include when we are up to our elbows in soapy water:

How do you know a legalist has done the washing up? They wash up most of the cutlery and crockery, but they leave the pans ‘to soak’ and they don’t wipe down the surfaces.

Why is this? Because they are not doing it out of a love for God and others. They’re doing it because they feel they ought to or because they want to be seen to be doing it. So there’s no intrinsic joy in it. As a result they do just enough to be able to say they’ve done the washing up. Most of the washing up is down, but the kitchen is not left clean. (read the whole post)

I’m not sure why, but this post by Tim seemed to line up with something Hamo posted today on whether churches should be big or small:

On Sunday we looked at the theological and biblical reasons for a church to be both large and small, as well as the practical and pragmatic reasons for preferring small or large. While you can argue quite convincingly at a pragmatic level for either option, (‘big’ or ‘small’) the exercise we did together showed quite clearly that when we consider the biblical descriptions of church the evidence for ‘small’ is much more compelling.

Perhaps the critical word in this conversation is ‘primary’. I am not suggesting there is no place at all for a larger group to get together or that a large gathering is redundant, but I am seriously advocating that we see the larger gatherings as being of secondary importance. For example, most churches I have been part of say ‘come on Sunday and if possible be part of a home group or similar’, but if you can only do one of those two then choose the Sunday event. I believe it more appropriate to say ‘make sure you are part of a smaller gathering and if you are able, join with the rest of the crew on Sunday – but if you can only choose one, then choose small. (read Hamo’s post)

Perhaps it was the last paragraph (a quote from Eugene Petersen) that tied this post in to the theology of washing up.

“You can’t do gospel work, kingdom work in an impersonal way. We live in the Trinity. Everything we do has to be in the context of the Trinity, which means personally, relationally. The minute you start doing things impersonally, functionally, mass oriented, you deny the gospel. Yet that’s all we do.”

This covers dish washing and ‘doing church’ rather nicely, I think. It also covers writing reports – which is what I should get back to doing!

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2 replies on “God in the Small and the Mundane”

This post really resonates with me, Eddie.

One advantage you have in the UK is that the vast majority of evangelical (for lack of a better word) churches are much smaller than the vast majority in the USA.

We are kind of stuck at a large church (by UK standards) because our kids love it. We like some aspects but yearn for the connection a smaller church would provide.

Great quote by Mr Peterson, Eddie. Funnily enough, I only just realised that one of my all-time favourite books (‘Under the Unpredictable Plant’) is by him. I recently read ‘The Shack’…but found that it stretched my pre-conceptions a bit toooo much to be truly helpful.
On the subject of big churches, it does seem possible to experience close personal fellowship within them – as long as the ‘cell group’ element is active and effective. And maybe thats the ideal…a large church with the ability to positively impact the community in which it resides because of active church members, increased resources (meaning people and money), and vibrant small groups. The well known examples of All Souls, Langham Place and St Helens, Bishopsgate and HTB all seem to follow this model.

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