* The core of this post is a recent sermon. Many sermonic elements remain.
I spent the majority of last week in New York City. With over 8.6 million people, it is the most populous city in our country. The people of NYC speak over 800 languages ~ it attracts and sends out people at a mind-boggling rate. It is a worldwide leader in business, technology, media, entertainment, fashion, the arts, and more.
After six days in the Big Apple, my family pulled back into Crawford, Texas. This experience made me ask the question: What can God do with Crawford, Texas?
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32
Jesus does not compare the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed but to what happens to a mustard seed. God transforms a tiny speck of mustard seed into a six to ten foot high shrub. At first glance it is no sight to behold. Give it some time … and you’ll be looking up at it.
How does this principle work …
Nobody thought the carpenter boy turned preacher would amount to anything. Boy, were they wrong. He performed miracles, taught the very words of God, offered eternal life. He was God in the flesh.
When Jesus died on the cross they thought it was over. Boy, were they wrong. On the third day he rose from the dead to defeat sin and death.
Nobody thought the rag tag group of disciples could accomplish anything. Boy, were they wrong. They preached the gospel and set the world on fire.
There is something to learn from the parable of the mustard seed. I want to discuss the kingdom of God and the power of the small town church. Let’s move slowly …
Facilities are not the kingdom: You can walk into other churches and find world-class facilities. Beautiful sanctuaries with high ceilings and stained glass. You can walk into other churches and find high gadgets and gizmos. You can walk into other churches and be wowed by children’s and youth facilities. Yet, facilities are not the kingdom of God.
Crowd sizes are not the kingdom: You can walk into other church and find massive crowds. Many churches in the area draw crowds of such size that they offer multiple worship services on Sunday morning. There is a church nearby that recently built a new sanctuary and already has it filled to capacity. Praise God! May it happen here! Yet, crowed sizes are not the kingdom of God.
Programs are not the kingdom: You can walk into other churches and find a program or ministry to meet every need you can imagine. Some churches offer a program on every night of the week for every age group or need you think up. Programs that center on music, or bible study, or counseling, or small groups, or education, or discipleship, or recreation, or evangelism. Yet, programs are not the kingdom of God.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the kingdom: The kingdom of God is the place where God reigns and rules. We will see the kingdom of God it its fullness in heaven. But we see the kingdom of God here on earth every time we bow our lives at the feet of God. The core of the gospel message is that apart from God we can do nothing. Apart from God we are broken and powerless. Apart from God we are dead in sin. When we realize the reality of our spiritual condition we bow are lives at the feet of God. And through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have victory over sin and death. We are made whole and filled with the power of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ is preached in the sanctuary of FBC Crawford.
Invest here and watch God’s power: Don’t look for facilities, crowds, or programs. Look for the gospel preached. I encourage you to invest here and watch God’s power. God transforms a mustard seed into a ten-foot shrub. God can start a revival with a gospel preaching church in small town Crawford America.