Last week, I talked about how Rembrandt’s painting of the Disciples Taking Jesus from the Cross invoked a sense of quiet awe within those with me who were viewing it. I got to thinking about art forms

One of my favorite expressions of painting from the later part of the Impressionist period is a form of using small dots of paint to create the image. If you get up close to one of these paintings, you see individual dots in a variety of colors that seem to make little sense. In that moment, it’s easy to lose sight of the overall picture. But step back a few feet and the individual dots fade as the scene becomes clear.

For years, a pen and ink drawing made only from dots hung in our home showing a snow skier done as a study of this art form.

As we introduced Romans last week, I couldn’t help but think how much a “dot” paint clearly illustrates each of our places in the church. While each of our gifts and contributions to VCF may seem insignificant at times, when viewed collectively from a distance, they form a beautiful painting of God at work. In fact, theologically this seems to be how Christ desires his church to be. A collection of “dots” (individuals) who as a group demonstrate something beautiful and awesome.

Now as one of your leaders, your pastors and elders are tasked by God to be shepherds of these “dots.”

Mike Bonem at Church Central writes: “Pastors and ministry leaders must be able to step back and see the big picture. They need to distinguish random, individual dots from broader patterns. Decisions based on specific dots are rarely strategic, and may be harmful to the church. But identifying the broader patterns can be critical to making wise decisions.”

He goes on to say, it’s a dot (albeit an encouraging one) if the leader of a community group reports that participants are experiencing spiritual breakthroughs. However, it’s a pattern if these individuals start inviting their friends and the one group divides into several.

I guess I am reminded that sometimes we are drawn in by the urgency of individual problems or criticism in many ministry environments. It’s as if they are saying, “Come and look. Put your nose a few inches away from the painting.” I’m not suggesting that you can or should always resist these forces. There are times when you need to pay attention to individual dots.

But I am also reminded, if as a pastor and in encouraging our leadership, we don’t take the time and ability to step back and connect the dots, our ministry at VCF will fall short of its potential.

Jesus’ design for the church is that we all contribute our gifts to the building of His “living stones”. May God remind each of us what we can do this week to make time to reflect on the bigger picture of what he is doing in our church.