I have palm tree in my front garden, I look at it every morning when I sit on my porch and have a coffee. Below the palm tree there are loads of little seedlings that are starting to grow.
I was just staring at the tree and the small plants growing around it and it made me think about the birth of small missional communities and their relationship to larger churches. I am talking specifically about small communities growing out of larger church communities.
Firstly I couldn't help but think, that no matter how hard they try the little seeds will always bear some of the DNA of the tree from which they were birthed.
I noticed that for the little trees to get established they need the shade of the big tree, it protects them. The little tree also receives the same nutrients and same water that the big tree receives.
This week it started to rain and I noticed that the little trees were not getting any bigger. Leading me to think that there has to come a time when they move away from the big tree or they die.
At no point do the little trees ever attack or disrespect the big tree and if the big tree stays where it is it will continue to grow and be fruitful. The only time the little trees ever threaten the big tree is when they grow to big and you have two trees competing for the same resources. At this time neither tree grows properly.
So the best thing to do is to move the little trees away from the big tree. Now I did this last year I took some of the seedlings and replanted them in a better place, with lots of room and space. However they died!
The reason they died is because I didn't support them, I just left them to grow on their own and they died. The big tree can survive through dry times because it's roots are deep the little plant just dies because it's roots are shallow, the big tree can survive windy times because it's trunk is thick the little tree blows over because it is not tied to a support, the big tree can survive animals climbing on it and peeing on it the small tree just folds and withers from weight and the toxins the big tree will bear fruit every year but the little tree will take many years to bear fruit.
So for me as I watch on and see the birth of new missional communities I see that they need much more support than the big trees. They need the support of the guys who planted and cultivated the big trees.
Two things need to happen, small communities need to recognise they need help from big communities and big communities need to actively support and help new communities. Independence will kill small communities. Recognition by big churches that they need to support small communities will produce multiple growth in a whole range of different places.
With healthy interplay and relationships being sustained between both communities, both will grow and be healthy.