To talk of survival does not mean that survival is an end in itself. The survival sought is not for an institution and certainly not for institutional forms or entities. Church leadership is a response to God’s love and action in the world revealed most clearly in Jesus Christ. Christian leadership is a channel of God’s grace as it seeks the fulfillment of God’s vision, and such leadership emerges out of the history, beliefs, and traditions of faith communities.
What is the future going to look like? Will leadership emerge? I think about those early Christians, the first hearers of Mark's gospel. What discouragements were they facing? What did the future of the church look like to them?
Their gatherings were as small as mustard seeds. Yet, they did become as great shrubs providing protection.
So, I would like to draw from this parable a parallel--size now does not limit potential.
But, I'm also drawn to the lesson embedded in this passage--that Jesus spoke in parables because his hearers were not ready to learn his meaning. To his disciples, and in private, he explained everything.
Yet, even without understanding, the other hearers became part of the growth of the church. I'm looking back at verses 26-27. The sower of the seed doesn't have to know how the sprouting part works in order for it to work.