Small Beginnings

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice.
— Zechariah 4:10 ESV

I stood in the back of the room last Thursday. I had to take a picture, though it fails -- as pictures often do -- to capture the magnitude of the moment. This was the final session of the Church Planting Conference in Campinas, Brazil.

This was the eighth gathering of church planters sponsored by our church planting partners in Brazil. The theme was Transforming Churches: Understanding The Culture, Living The Gospel. What an amazing time:

  • 1400 participants
  • 140 volunteers
  • 50 denominations represented
  • All 26 states (and the Federal district) of Brazil were represented
  • There were 12 Plenary Sessions and 9 Workshop opportunities
  • Speakers from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. participated

As I reflect on the event, Zechariah's words come to mind:

Don’t despise these small beginnings.

This particular church planting conference began very humbly eight years ago. About 70 of us gathered in a much smaller venue to worship, learn, and grow together. The movement gathered momentum, outgrew one location, then a second, and this year moved once again.

Commenting on Zechariah 4:10, the ESV Study Bible notes,

God’s work may start in small and unobtrusive ways, yet reach a glorious conclusion.

This is the nature of the work of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us this:

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

In the end, the Conference is not about the numbers, it is about the work of God, the Kingdom of God, and the glory of God. God can take any small, seemingly insignificant work, and use it. He specializes in transforming little into much. He's good like that.

So don't lose heart in the times of "small beginnings." God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is always working. He's got your back!