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Small Giants: Give or Grow

August 15, 2007
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Which would you like to focus on? If you wonder why churches don’t focus on their community it may be because their focus is on growth. A point that Small Giants makes is that publicly traded companies have one responsibility and one alone, growth.

“The social responsibility of a corporation is to increase its profits, as Milton Friedman once observed, and its resources ought not be diverted to ancillary purposes.”

This is the mindset contrasted in the book. Publicly traded companies have to focus on growth. Now what happens when churches focus on growth? Do they end up thinking the same? If the focus is on growth then the resources will be allotted accordingly. What do you think? Think about what resources people discuss and what they want to do with them. Are they done to attract more people? To keep those you have? Is that because of growth?

You see one reason the small giants stay private is to insure they can do whatever they want with their resources. Zingerman’s, a conglomerate of food business in Ann Arbor, Michigan, gives away excess food to area non-profits. Anchor Brewing matches donations to non-profits 2 for 1.

Each company in Small Giants does a lot for their communities because they can. Since their focus is not on growth they have freedom to use their resources for the community.

What do you think? Is one of the reasons churches are not more involved in their community because of a focus on growth? Should it surprise us that most churches focus on programs for their people, we have to keep and attract more, instead of on making a difference in the community?

If you are in a large church I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you are at a small one how would this change your focus, are you trying to get more to attract more? How could this encourage your focus?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2007 10:15 am

    Darin,

    I’m at a small church that’s tried the growth model for about 50 years. What I’m trying to do is shift the focus away from growth as “the end,” over to being sent on mission into the city just as Jesus was sent into the world. That means that we want to bless people and find those areas that need someone to shoulder the pain of sin. It’s hard to do this with 100 people so we’re forming missional communities, small groups sent out on mission. I believe if we’ll shine the light of Jesus we’ll hear stories from the hurting and find an open door to tell God’s story. I believe the light (which includes demonstrating the kingdom and announcing the kingdom) will draw people into God’s family. The focus is serving not growing. We’ll water and let God worry about giving the increase in His own time.

  2. August 16, 2007 4:16 pm

    I can’t wait to hear how this goes.

    What has the response been?

  3. benoverby permalink
    August 16, 2007 5:43 pm

    So far all the response has been positive. We’re a few months away from getting into a rhythm. But one of our groups is going to feed the families in the local Ronald McDonal House this Saturday. Friday night we’re taking our worship to the beach (Lake Ontario). Teens and some adults will gather, play for a while, and then we’re going to praise God for about an hour. We pray that someone will be blessed or touched or pulled toward Jesus.

    These are the sorts of things that weren’t on the radar just a few months ago. The groups that are forming later in the year are already kicking around ideas that have to do with consistently shouldering the pain of the city. E.g., one group might take on children/adult illiteracy by voluteering (weekly) with local groups. Or, we might start looking at ways to protect the unborn by offering some sort of pregnancy crisis counseling. Or, …. you name it. Our city is hurting in a zillion ways. The possibilities are endless. By loving and serving we’ll hear the tales that will open the door to our story–that is, the story of our King.

    We have much to do and require loads of grace from God.

    Ben

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