A Tale of Two Churches, Part 2
Earlier this week, I wrote about how folks in Greenville, SC (or any middle-class culture) can learn about true community from folks in Allendale, SC. But Allendale can also learn from Greenville. A friend said that the Vision Ministries (Allendale) and Grace Church (Greenville) were in a “mutually-beneficial” relationship, but it took me most of the year to figure out how this was true.
What Greenville Can Teach Allendale
Whereas Allendale excels in intimate community, the typical middle-class mindset of Greenville is about growth. I’m not referring to just a growth in numbers and size, but also about expanding one’s impact in the community andworld. (You can read about Grace Church’s “growth strategy,” thought it’s not really a strategy as you would probably think of it.)
For someone who has been worshiping at Grace Church for over 15 years, this focus on growth has been challenging for me. I have often struggled with the increasing ministry opportunities that Grace has pursued. But then God reminds me what we need to be about – to give as many people as possible the chance to hear and respond to the message of the gospel.
Growth is not merely about how one person or organization can benefit. It’s about how much those around you can benefit. Sometimes this means starting a new Small Group, or serving in a new ministry area. Sometimes it means being a part of a new campus or church plant. And sometimes it means leaving Greenville and moving your family to Allendale, Bahamas, or Papua New Guinea.
In Allendale, people are often content with how things are, instead of envisioning what God can do. We need to come to God with humility and thankfulness, but also with an expectation that God has a desire for the lost and hurting to come to faith in Him, a desire that is infinitely larger than our own dreams.
So, one important thing that Greenville can teach Allendale is the need to be stretched and grow, to reach higher and wider.
A Mutually-Beneficial Relationship
It’s important to remember that neither the culture of community nor the culture of growth is the “right” way. These two aspects are in tension, but on the same spectrum.
Have you evaluated where you are on this spectrum? Do you naturally lean towards community or to growth? Wherever you are, you need to consider those who are on the other end, so that you can engage them in loving self-sacrifice, “working together with one mind and purpose” (see Philippians 2:2-4).
Additionally, when you recognize where you are not strong, you are able to receive the blessing of being taught by others. With cultures as different as Vision Ministries and Grace Church (or, as different as Allendale and Greenville), we can remember that the gospel unites the body of Christ. Be sure to “make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3).
I’m thankful that God has brought together these two churches – these two cultures – so that we can provide mutual blessings for each other.