Two or Three

silhouette of dancing people inside club

Photo by Wendy Wei on
“Bigger is better.”
“Size matters.” (I’m referring to church size, okay?
“The bigger the better!”

When I think about those sayings, I immediately try to dismiss them with quaint sayings that seem more humble and inspiring.

Like Mark Twain-“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” I love that one!

From Mom Teresa-“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

The truth is, as much as I want to believe those inspiring sayings, there’s a part of me that believes bigger is better. Or bigger means being more successful. That as a pastor, my success is measured by how the attendance at our worship services. I know, I know, that’s so wrong but that’s something that still gnaws at me! And this has been a real tension in my spirit. It’s so easy to feel unsuccessful or discouraged. Honestly, it’s been a battle for me as a pastor. But, God is amazing! As I sat in His presence this morning, I just rested in Him. As a son. With my Dad. I wasn’t even thinking about this at all. Until…

A couple of passages from the Bible snuck into my mind:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:18-20

I opened my Bible and began to just allow the words from these verses sink into my heart. As time went on, it was as though the Holy Spirit was saying, “Mark, two or three. Just two or three.” The amazing thing is that it did begin to sink into my heart! I began to see the real truth in these passages. There is much strength in just two or three. If just two people agree about anything they ask for, God will get it done for them. When just two or three are gathered, God is there. I was beginning to see, I mean really see,  that just two or three can make a huge impact!

I began thinking about a very profound and prophetic book by Ed Silvoso, entitled, “Ekklesia.” Ed has written a very a biblical and paradigm shifting book. He writes about something very new to me, the Conventus, “According to Sir William Ramsay, when a group of Roman citizens as small as two or three gathered anywhere in the world, it constituted the convents as a local expression of Rome.” Ed then masterfully relates this to Matthew 18. Something clicked in my spirit. Then my heart stirred when I read these words, “Jesus’ Ekklesia was not meant to be a sterile, sanitized holding tank into which His disciples were to store in isolation converts fished out of a turbulent and doomed sea, to await the arrival of a refrigerator ship for transfer to a heavenly port for final processing. Instead, His Ekklesia, whether in the embryonic expression of the conventus or in a more expansive version, was designed as the vehicle to inject the leaven of the Kingdom of God into the dough of society so that first people, and then cities and eventually nations, would be discipled.” Click!

Then, the other day, my very good friend and brother, Cal, stopped by my office, excited to share events and things he was working on. It really was exciting. But something he said still rings in my ears. “Mark, the Ekklesia is unstoppable!” He had shared a couple of stories about how two or three Christ followers took the Bible at its word and the inspiration of Ed Silvoso and his book, “Ekklesia,” and were making a huge impact in the world around them. Regular people, like me, making a major impact! Yes, size does matter! Two or three and God with them is unstoppable. Click!

God began to work His truth into my heart, gently blowing away the lies and false beliefs I was holding on to. “Mark, don’t worry about bigger is better. Don’t worry about the bigger you are, the more successful you are. Focus in on twos and threes. When you do, when you are leading, teaching, equipping and encouraging people that two or three is all you need, like Cal said, the church becomes unstoppable!” 

Two or three. We all can do that. I can do that. A married couple. A couple of siblings. A family. Two or three friends. Two or three co-workers. Two or three classmates. Two or three teammates. Two or three anybody. God can use, God does use two or three. I pray that would be my passion and my focus. Holy Spirit, I need your help. I need you to lead me, correct me, and empower me. Two or three. Click!

Thanks, Cal!

Thanks, Ed!

Most of all, thanks Father!

another important step!




I’ve got my eye on the goal

Once again, I go to Dale Wolyniak’s quote about a sabbatical,  “A ministry sabbatical is ideally quite different from a traditional academic sabbatical or a sabbatical practiced in business. It is about the spirit and soul being refreshed, renewed, and redirected.”  As time goes on,  I feel my spirit and soul allowing itself to be more refreshed. I see God’s loving hand bringing renewal, the “replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down or broken” in my life.

Redirection is being directed to a new or different place or purpose. As I look ahead to the end of this sabbatical, God is doing His good work in this area as well. One of the great joys of this sabbatical has been all the good reports coming out of our church. So many good things are happening. The pastors are doing a great job. Leaders have stepped up in wonderful ways. We continue to move forward in answering God’s call. God is so faithful and continues to lead our church forward, whether I am there or not. Yes, Jesus said, “I will build My church,” and He is. The church is growing. The leaders are growing. And I must grow as well.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”    Ben Franklin

Yes, God has been directing us all to a new place, a new level. Things cannot be the same when I return. It cannot be the “old same old same old.” This is His church and God is bringing redirection in my life as I prepare to head back. A passage that I ponder often is Phil. 3:12-14. Eugene Peterson articulates this passage well in his paraphrase from The Message:

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

God has a call for me that hasn’t changed. It’s not finished yet. I’m on my way. Sometimes, because of my frailty and stubbornness, it’s been two steps forward and one step back. Or times when it has been one step forward and two steps back. I don’t have this all together. I don’t have it made. But I’m on my way. I am far from being an expert but I do have my eye on the goal. And I’m not turning back.

So what how is God redirecting me? In many ways, both big and small.

  • He is drawing me closer to Him. I am asking God to teach me how to experience Isa. 26:3-4. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”
  • I am learning to trust Him more and let go of control. How wonderful the words of 2 Pet. 1:3-4. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 
  • He is giving me insights for the next steps of His call for our church and my life. As Grandma Leong loves to pray from Isa. 58:11,The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring,” I am seeking with renewed passion God’s guidance. I will need God’s guidance now, more than ever. 

It’s an exciting time but with all this refreshing, renewing and redirecting going on, God is also preparing me, character-wise to walk in a manner worthy of my calling. I am learning more tough but essential lessons. It’s been difficult to see my weaknesses and my lack of faith exposed by the loving hand of My Father. But it is good. I’m still a person under much construction. But that’s a story for another time.

another step…