I have vivid memories growing up, of my mom keeping this weird cup of of yeast culture in the fridge. She would cultivate it over a few days before she kneaded it into the bread she would bake. A cup of culture. Invisible in the bread but a vital agent for the final product. Yeast in scripture is often a negative metaphor.Jesus described religious pride as 'the yeast of the pharisees.'
But He also used it positively to describe the kingdom. "The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that a man plants, which turns into a large tree. It is like yeast that works itself through the whole batch of dough.'(Luke 13 my precis') The mustard seed is small but grows large and visible. The yeast remains invisible but permeates the bread, giving a sense of lightness, quality and flavor. Invisible but very tangible.
My question. Do we spend more time on 'mustard seed cultivation' - practices that hopefully will make our churches grow, than we do on 'yeast cultivation' - less tangible cultures that will keep our churches healthy?
By God's grace our community has grown fairly rapidly. We are grateful for that. What we have found though, is that mustard seed growth can put pressure on 'yeast culture.' You have to work harder to maintain it in a season of growth.
One of those cultures is a sense 'compelling community' - intimacy, gladness and sincerity, family.One has to find other forums than Sunday to cultivate it. Life groups become more important.Perhaps a one-on-one mentoring initiative. Encouraging leaders to live with open homes.Looking out for individuals in the crowd.Some people feel that to have intimacy you have to be small.I don't think that's true. But you do have to work harder to keep it.
Another is a culture of Holy Spirit flexibility. As a community grows one has to administrate more intentionally. It is like a married couple getting a child. You have to prepare better, and have more of a rhythm.You can't decide you are leaving for a weekend to Vegas on Friday afternoon when you have a baby!You have to plan ahead more.But in a growing community, one has to maintain a strong sense of responsiveness to the Holy Spirit's leading rather than relying on meticulous planning. He must have ultimate leadership in gatherings, in decisions and in vision. We cannot programme Him out of our communities.
What are some other 'yeast cultures' that we need to cultivate in a growing community? I'd love to hear from you. let's keep cultivating our cup of cultures.