Vol.XIX No.X Pg.6
December 1982

Quality Vs. Quantity

Robert F. Turner

A small frame building at the edge of a sleepy little town housed an old man's furniture shop. The sign was faded; the location was poor. Most of the equipment was old and hand operated. It was the finished furniture that was outstanding. The critical eye and deft hand of a master craftsman was the key. His furniture was not only strong and useful; it was a work of art.

People soon discovered him and his business began to grow. Mounds of backorders stacked up. Some help for the old furniture maker was a necessity. Furniture production went up, but the old man frowned at the finished product. There are flaws that he would never have allowed. His men do not demand perfection.

But business continues to expand. Finally automation is required. Large shining, and impressive machines do the work of a whole crew of men. But the machines have no eye for beauty. The old man struggles, but his famous quality is eroded by the demand for quantity.

The old man goes down the street to talk to his friend — a preacher in the church where they worship. The preacher nods his head and listens to the lament. He has the same problem, at least in principle.

The preacher studied hard, and his sermons were timely, needed themes. He explained scriptures so that all understood. His illustrations were graphic; his exhortations moved men. Soon the building was filled. He is happy — he is also perplexed. He struggles to suit lessons to people — as he did before. While he works with simple themes for babes, others are bored. When he preaches to challenge them, the babes are confused. He delivers a needed rebuke but sees it spill over on those who needed only encouragement. He cannot wish for a smaller audience, yet he must work even harder to prevent further loss in quality teaching.

The preacher calls on the elders and explains his dilemma to them. They nod understandingly. The problem is well known to them. When the flock consisted of but a few people, watching for souls was easier. People felt a personal sense of responsibility. All were acquainted with each other. When anyone had a problem, everyone knew about it — and helped to solve it. Everyone absent from the assembly was noticed. When the number multiplied, things changed. Brethren may need to be introduced to each other. A man becomes unfaithful, but no one is aware of it for months. Many become spectators — doing nothing and lost in the crowd. Attendance charts are kept. Work programs are begun. Brethren are constantly reminded and exhorted. They try, but keeping the quality of the church as it become large is unreal task.

And remember — small is not always good. The little church across town may be small because it has nothing worthwhile to offer. It may remain small for the same reason. There are many ignorant, indifferent, and completely carnal minded small churches. Joe Fitch San Antonio, TX.