Doing What You Though You Couldn’t

It’s cold in the California desert. A warm winter shirt served me well on my morning walk.


Along the way, I bumped into an old friend—actually, it was a tree. It’s a plumeria tree typically found in the tropics. I’d seen it before, but it was a welcome surprise today.


There are just four in this resort, and I’ve never seen others while wandering the community. Plumerias are one of my favorite things about Hawaii. And spots like Hawaii and Thailand are their favorite places to grow. They like damp and temperate weather.


Whoever planted it understands the positive value of “and” versus the limitations imposed by “or.”


The word or acts as a kind of despot restricting a range of possibilities. We choose to think about microchurch or megachurch. We choose addition growth or multiplication.


I want to live on the onramp apart from the tyranny of or.


Having written a couple of books about the possibilities of microchurch, I get into conversations that lean toward suggesting that small is better than large. The truth is microchurches can penetrate subcultures in ways that large ones cannot. Conversely, there are megachurches supplying service to the larger body of Christ in ways that small ones cannot—the YouVersion app comes to mind.


When discussing church multiplication, we must understand that healthy churches grow through addition, leading to multiplication. The danger comes when we land on addition to the exclusion of multiplication.


There is wisdom in pursuing multiplication while protecting addition—especially if a church has run on an addition-based operating system (aOS). I like to think of running two operating systems at once. A church addicted to programs designed to add would do well to create an mOS as an experiment along the way to greater things. The goal is to seek change without breaking wineskins.


So we can take a lesson from a tropical tree growing in the desert. The picture attached to this article shows it in winter. In summer, it is green and boasts a load of blossoms. All this despite temperatures that can hit 118 degrees in the summer and near freezing in the winter.


Whoever planted that tree took a chance betting that a plumeria could make it in the tropics and the desert. I want to live like that person.


Hey, it’s post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas. If you’re in a generous mood, please comment in the box below.


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5 thoughts on “Doing What You Though You Couldn’t”

  1. Mahalo for your insight pastor Ralph.

    Our commission from KING JESUS to go make disciples lends itself (in my humble opinion) to smaller groups built around authentic relationships.

    It’s not one or the other (big church gatherings or small groups), but both working together. The big gathering acts as a doorstep to entering a small group within the church. Much like the model we enjoyed at Hope Chapel. As you would often remind us, the gatherings at services on the weekend are a collection of “mini churches” (small groups) celebrating together.

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