John Keble – Simple Things: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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60 Responses

  1. Linn says:

    Duane-Than you for a history story I had not yet heard and for an example to follow. I’ve read a lot about the Oxford Movement, but I had never heard of Keble.

    I do SO believe in church! It’s the only plan God left for the original disciples. It’s imperfect, just like I am (I always keep in mind that the church has to put up with me, too!). But, serving in the church has always brought me the greatest joy.

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    Thank you… Keble is certainly worthy of emulation.

  3. Xenia says:

    Fr. John Keble reminds me of our own humble Fr. G.

    You’ve said what I’ve been saying here for years: find a church, the closest and smallest possible that agrees with your theology, and stay there, doing humble jobs, until the end. Sure, there are reasons to leave a church– I had my reasons for leaving all of Protestantism- but these are the people God has given us to be saved alongside, and the grumps and crazies are there to teach us something important, if we have ears to hear. And I am probably someone else’s grump and crazy.

    At my old Calvary Chapel, I was ambitious. I had a lot of cool volunteer jobs. It was a disaster. Now I am the baker of pies and the consoler of crying babies, and it’s a blessing. I’ve been offered to take a leadership role here and there, but I decline because I know the deleterious affect being in charge of stuff has on my soul. It makes me shudder to think about it…

    Meanwhile, after hemming and hawing and thinking up excuses, I did go to Church yesterday. I love my Church but I have become so ingrown what with one thing and the other that I have to force myself to leave the house sometimes. But we went and I was blessed. And I was hugged by one and all and I hope I live to tell about it…..

  4. Duane Arnold says:


    Sitting in the back pew is good for the soul…

  5. Xenia says:

    Pews? What’s this pew business?

  6. Duane Arnold says:


    In your case a metaphor…😁

  7. Em says:

    Sometimes old people can’t sleep. That was me last night. I listened to a Protestant preacher, yes a Protestant, Charles Stanly, urge his large congregation to daily instruct their children in The Faith.
    He observed that we are living in a time where our Faith is not respected, nor is there a fear of God and the hereafter in the world today.
    I have nothing against small churches. Such would be my choice. But once in a while there is a good teacher in the larger congregations too.
    Thank you, Dr. Duane for the story of this humble Saint.

  8. EricL says:

    Thank you, Duane. It is an encouraging message. I wish we there were many more such committed and caring pastors (and congregations too).

    My family and I have visited three different local churches in the last month, purposely avoiding the megachurch shows, but it was a discouraging experience:
    Church #1- the elderly congregation of about 60 did their best to ignore us, the obvious newcomers and our two kids. We felt like we were invisible as the old folks warmly chatted with each other and avoided us. The message was clear- you are not welcome in our place.
    Church #2- an elderly congregation of about 40 that actually made the effort to welcome us (so much better than the first church), but as soon as our youngest entered their Sunday School room one of the older boys started throwing things at him. There was also a set of twin boys in the class who announced that they were actually girls- which lead to an interesting conversation on our ride home. I would be willing to try this church again but my wife finds it hard to look past the fact that our son was attacked as soon as he walked into that classroom.
    Church #3- a younger congregation of about 40 that I almost walked out of when they began singing a newer praise song that includes the line “you’ve been God for a long time.” (As if there was ever a time when he wasn’t God?) What pastor allows such heretical words to be taught in song? I didn’t walk out, though we refrained from joining in on communion, and afterwards I talked with their worship director to get clarification. She was nice, accepted my concerns about the lyrics, and then explained that it was the pastor himself who had added the song into their mix over a year ago. In addition, there was no sermon that day, just a short but rambling message before communion and a prayer writing activity. Very weird.

    Our home church is wonderful but over 30 miles away, so we were hoping to find a congregation closer to home. We want to find a church where we are welcomed and can become involved, but it’s proving harder than you might expect.

  9. Em says:

    P.S and FWIW
    Keble looks like the man who taught my daughter to fly. He just called and is coming over with his snow plow to open our driveway. Another Christian, unassuming man.
    We had a foot of snow fall overnight.
    Did I mention that I hate snow?
    God keep

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    I tried about five! All were Anglican (supposedly) but it was difficult. I think small churches are best, but they tend to be “clubs”. All I can say is to keep trying. Sometimes it is a matter of the least offensive…

  11. Michael says:

    I remember when “vision casting” was the rage for church planters and pastors.

    This is my whole vision and I didn’t need to hire a consultant…”saying Morning and Evening Prayer, presiding at Holy Communion, performing marriages, visiting those in his charge and burying the dead.”

  12. Duane Arnold says:


    It’s a pretty simple formula when you think about it…

  13. Em says:

    Dr. Duane @10:32
    Didn’t someone say that God must love the little people as He made so many of us?

  14. Em says:


  15. Xenia says:

    The reason, or one of the reasons, small neighborhood churches are mostly older people is that the mega rock and roll churches have beguiled the young people. The parents of young people feel they have to join the mega spectacle in order to keep their kids in church. Often, mega and wanna be megas don’t care about older people, other than tossing them a “nifty fifties” group. Ask a 40-50 year old why they don’t attend the small church in their neighborhood where they grew up and their own parents attend and they’ll tell you they have reluctantly decided to attend the mega-style church so their kids can join the Extreme Teen youth group led by the edgy youth pastor with the tattoos.

  16. Michael says:


    That’s true in many instances…it’s also a fact that people draw people…and content doesn’t seem very important anymore.

  17. EricL says:


    Finding a youth group that shows the love of Christ is what’s rare. Our middle schooler went to one church in town where the youth pastor actually insulted him by making a “joke” about the cat-training book he brought one evening. (Some people will say anything to get laughs- no matter how hurtful.) My son continued to go for a few more months because of a friend, but he never connected with anyone else in that church. He certainly didn’t warm up to that youth pastor. As soon as that friend stopped attending, my son dropped it too. Now he’s scarred toward going to any youth group.

    Oh, to find a youth pastor that actually pastors.

  18. Duane Arnold says:


    It is also an “authority issue”. Most church planters are GenZ and below. Unless they are very secure in themselves, they really do not wish to have older, experienced people around. As you know in my case it has taken a very long time to establish trust…

  19. Michael says:

    I don’t expect that I will have a youth group…I do expect to catechize the children (along with their parents) in the liturgy.

  20. Babylon's Dread says:

    My attention has been drawn to this text over and again. My wife has urged it for many years. Having left the demands of a busy noisy life in public ministry… the simple life of the word and prayer is compelling

    9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Th 4:9–12.

    Love one another
    Live quietly
    Mind your own affairs
    Work with your hands
    Dependent on no one


    I don’t know this Keble but thank you for the introduction

  21. Duane Arnold says:


    Agreed, and all this presupposes Church…

  22. josh hamrick says:

    Talking with a retired pastor this week, who is now an elder at the closest thing we have to a mega church around here (1,200 attendees). His entire pastoral ministry was in smaller, more traditional SBC churches like the one I am at.
    He says the draw is the music, and I think he is right. It is basically a 30 minute concert you put on every week to bring people in, and then you have another 30 minutes to preach or teach whatever you like. It doesn’t really matter what that content is, if the concert is good, people will show up.
    So the question you have to ask is, do we want our fellowship to get big? If so, put your resources into the band and give them all they need to have a smoking 30 minute concert. At the end of the concert, you will have a large audience to teach your great doctrine to.
    If you don’t employ the rock band (I do not), just know that you will have a small gathering. Demographics and such come into play, but in my area, we will remain under 150, no matter what. Those 150 will be older and will fit the racial and economic profile of the history of the church.
    Simplistic, but if you look at it, it is true throughout the country on at least a 90% basis. If you want a big church, make sure you have a great band.

  23. Dread says:


    Is that really why they come? The thirty minute concert? Woe, the sheep look up and are not fed. Do they not still hunger for God and for some sure word of God? Do they not seek the Word of the Cross and the King?

    At least the sacramental churches have the center correctly noted. It is always the body and blood. It is always Word and sacrament. It is always Spirit and life.

    Surely the people are not so vain as to simply feel that it doesn’t matter as to the content.

    Gospel preaching raises the dead. The foolishness of the word preached still puts breath in the corpse.

    My old professor would urge us on… “you must have a gospel”

    Josh if what you claim is all there is then let it crash to the ground until some prophet arises with a coal from the altar on his lips.

  24. Duane Arnold says:


    I don’t doubt your analysis, although I think it tends to hold true for a certain expression of church, loosely called evangelical. That being said, while, for instance, St. Thomas NYC was known for a high standard in the pulpit, it didn’t hurt that we had a world class choir of men and boys!😁

    My real concern, however, is the current abandonment of any sort of church by so many believers…

  25. josh hamrick says:

    Look around and tell me different. Some have used the finally 30 minutes for the glory of God, most have used it for some perversion or another, usually to build one man’s kingdom. But the one thing they all have in common is the concert.
    I agree with you about the importance of preaching the true gospel. The masses simply don’t care. They may say they do on surveys, but if you want to find the large crowd on Sunday mornings, find the concert. They are there.

  26. Linn says:

    My church has an attendance of about 500. We have been growing consistently all through the pandemic (either via eyeballs online or actual attendance). Our quarterly membership classes are currently packed. We have a good worship team, but they do three songs at the beginning of the service and one or two at the end. We still get a solid 30-40 minute sermon, with a rotating preaching team. There are still a few churches out there that find teaching important. I think there may be more churches like mine than are actually heard about because we aren’t the megas.

  27. josh hamrick says:

    I don’t know the number of attenders for St. Thomas NYC, but yes, the demographics of NYC would allow it to have a larger base than a church in rural NC. Still, there are churches with bands in NYC drawing tens of thousands. The same holds true, the demographics are just different.

    That does bring a slight wrinkle into my equation though – If you want a larger (relatively) congregation, and refuse the rock band, you will absolutely have to be in a major metropolitan setting.

  28. josh hamrick says:

    Linn, many of the churches I described do care about the teaching. In essence, they use the draw of the concert to deliver solid teaching. Sounds like that is probably what you are a part of.

  29. Duane Arnold says:


    We had an average Sunday attendance of about 1800 – split over four services, 8:00, 9:00, 11:00 and 5:00 pm…

    As I think I said in ‘The Angelus’ videos, I think parishes have particular calls and vocations, just as individuals… discerning that call and responding appropriately is the challenge.

  30. josh hamrick says:

    How long ago were you there? I know Covid has skewed all attendance numbers, especially in NYC, but I wonder if the church is growing from those figures or declining. And again, 1800 in NYC isn’t huge.

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    Like elsewhere they are declining, especially from the 90s and 00s. Thing is, we were midtown Manhattan, nothing residential around us. If you went to church it was as a “destination”…

  32. josh hamrick says:

    I can tell them what to do if they want to really grow 🙂

  33. sarahmorgan says:

    Josh’s discussion at 6:44am on the draw of the modern/contemporary/rock music in church has brought a couple of thoughts to mind, just a couple of anecdotes from when I used to be a worship leader (and yes, I led a rock band that did 30 minutes of music followed by a sermon, in a service where the whole intent was to draw the people in via the music so that they would hear the message):
    (1) Me, expressing my concern to the rather worldly pastor of a church where I was a worship leader: “Do you think we could talk a bit more about Jesus during the service?” Reply from pastor: “That’s YOUR job.”
    (2) Me, visiting another local church where a former member of my team was the worship leader, after a service where the music was presented at a level far below my friend’s immense skill: “Friend, why such a sub-par presentation?” Sad reply from friend: “I can’t do what I used to do — here, if the music’s too good, you get accused of “performing”, not “worshiping”.
    I’ve had the great fortune to have participated in and attended services with outstanding rock music worship in which the whole service was presented to keep the focus on God, not the band. Where I currently live, this is not the case, and my experiences have convinced me that there is no place for me as a trained Christian musician in church anymore.

  34. Duane Arnold says:

    I think church is more that a concert and a Tedtalk, which is now what one encounters in many places…

  35. josh hamrick says:

    I agree, but could the concert and the tedtalk be a draw to bring people into the church which takes place at other times and venues?

  36. Duane Arnold says:


    It certainly could, but there is a difference between evangelistic outreach and church…or, at least, there should be 😁

  37. josh hamrick says:

    Really? Hmm. The church should be an evanglestic organization, no?

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    Read the “finding Church” series to see what was done in the first four centuries…

  39. Duane Arnold says:

    Evangelism is one part, but to what end? What are they invited to in terms of church? The church is not an on-going Billy Graham crusade. Even he recognized that…

  40. josh hamrick says:

    Right, but what if Sunday morning is? What if that is the place you draw a crowd for evangelism, and then yes, do the “church stuff” in smaller groups at different times?

  41. Duane Arnold says:

    It may be possible… but the ‘church stuff’ tends to get lost! I prefer to stick with scripture and tradition on this one!

  42. Linn says:

    The seeker church movement has been shown to be a pretty good way to kill a church. You absolutely have to feel the flock if you expect them to return every Sunday. Even Willow Creek came to that conclusion.

  43. josh hamrick says:

    Linn, every church on the list of largest churches in America are some form of seeker church. Keep in mind that I’m not saying not to feed them, or anything like that. Only talking about the method to draw a crowd.

    Duane, I guess one could point to the declining church in America and say the evangelism has gotten lost.

    None of these are my wants, choices or methods. Just thinking.

  44. Em says:

    We lived in Spokane, WA for a couple years – attended a church where all the “music” came from the piano and the voices of the congregation. One fellow remarked to me that his family attended to be fed…. said their previous church was more like going to a rock concert……
    IF one has been “born again,” I think one has a spiritual hunger…..

  45. josh hamrick says:

    Does that imply that piano and voices are more spiritual?

  46. Duane Arnold says:


    “I guess one could point to the declining church in America and say the evangelism has gotten lost.”

    A river does not rise higher than its source. Evangelism is the outward face of the church. The church in decline constrains and limits evangelism, not the other way around… There may be exceptions to this, but I would need to be convinced…

  47. josh hamrick says:

    I think we are saying the same thing there.

  48. Em says:

    Josh @ 10:23
    I think what it implies is that God would rather hear His people involved in the praise….
    Dunno, though, do i? 🙆

  49. josh hamrick says:

    Do his people play guitars and drums or only piano?

  50. Em says:

    His people can do all sorts of things – guitars and drums? Not evil, I don’t think……
    One funny word that I never could get my mind around? Boogie woogie – say what?
    is your boogie woogie or is your woogie boogie?
    Sorry for the silly…
    I am snow bound still
    God keep

  51. josh hamrick says:

    Stay safe and warm up there.

  52. Muff Potter says:

    I am very happily ensconced in a small Lutheran Church of the ELCA synod.
    Liturgy is the focus along with the Eucharist and then a short homily.
    Afterwards it’s coffee, donuts, and shooting the breeze with great people.
    All in all it’s a great place to be for an old ex-fundagelical like me.

  53. bob1 says:


    Happy for you! I think ELCA is a great option for exvangelicals.

  54. Duane Arnold says:


    Great that you’ve found a place and a community!

  55. Duane Arnold says:

    BTW, I mentioned above the ‘Finding Church’ series from 2020. Below is a link to the conclusion of the series… All of the series can be accessed using the search function.

  56. josh hamrick says:

    Duane, I must have been on one of my breaks during that series. Excellent work! Going to start with part 1 now.

  57. josh hamrick says:

    And there I am in the comments on the first article 🙂

    Just a bad memory. I’ll start again!

  58. Duane Arnold says:


    I hope you enjoy it! Let me know…

  59. josh hamrick says:

    BTW – I haven’t gotten around to the Angelus series yet. What is that about?

  60. Duane Arnold says:

    Three meditations I did for a local parish for an Advent quiet day. It has to do with call and vocation…

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