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23 Responses

  1. AA says:

    Looks like some great links, first!

  2. dswoager says:

    The Why do we treat small churches as problems link seems to be broken. Thanks

  3. Michael says:

    Thanks, AA!

    dswoager…looks like they took down the article.

    Very odd…

  4. Paige says:

    Thank you. I’m slowly making my way through them, though not in order,

    Love the last one….. walking the world like the pardon of God….

    As to the soul after death…… I personally “like” the last chapter of Watership Down, the death of Hazel-rah, who goes with the silver light-eared rabbit…..

    ““you’ve been feeling tired,” said the stranger, “but I can do something about that….if you’re ready, we might go along now.”

    …the sun was shining and in spite of the cold there were a few bucks and does at evening meal, keeping out of the wind as they nibbled the shoots of spring grass. It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying at the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.

    “you needn’t worry about them,” said his companion. “They’ll be all right—and thousands like them. If you’ll come along, I’ll show you what I mean.”

    He reached the top of the bank in a single, powerful leap. Hazel followed; and together they slipped away running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.” (from Watership Down)

    Good day all……. Our family is celebrating the 35th birthday of my middle son Jon…. While, at this time he is not embracing the Gospel, I love him deeply, am proud of him, even though I won’t ever be one of those people who send glowing Christmas newsletters filled with family accomplishments, and am so thankful that my offspring are pleasant, friendly, hardworking, (and hilarious) honest people who are alive, not in a hospital, not in jail, not trapped in a foreign country….. but will be at my table tonight. I am hugely blessed.

  5. Michael says:

    That’s it…thank you!

  6. Steve Wright says:

    I don’t understand the small churches article. The church “leader” starts by complaining about churches in his “group” (denomination??)

    On the one hand, how can one church’s existence be a problem for anyone else? Who cares how big they are?

    On the other hand, though no personal experience, I recognize that denominations do in fact shut down small churches from time to time (it is happening in a small town in OK with a connection to my family as I write) – and so there is a sense that it matters.

    Plus, what if small churches have problematic leaders that take up a lot of time of the denominational structure. Maybe they are calling, complaining, appealing and petitioning etc largely because they have little else to do all week since the church is so small.

    So help me out on this. It is one thing for someone to encourage small churches to grow, but a far different thing to claim their small existence is a problem.


  7. dswoager says:

    After reading the parts of Christianity are nor Christian article my thought was more or less that I thought that was one of the things that the ekklesia was about in the first place. If you see your brother in sin, you can help encourage them to repent by letting them know about their un-Christlike behavior.

    I would wonder if this isn’t more of a struggle with dealing with our reputation in the world than anything. We click on some article and see that some macho pastor is aking us look dumb again.

  8. dswoager says:

    “Plus, what if small churches have problematic leaders that take up a lot of time of the denominational structure. Maybe they are calling, complaining, appealing and petitioning etc largely because they have little else to do all week since the church is so small.”

    I have a hard time believing that this is one of the chief concerns. I would guess that most of it comes down to either a strictly numbers focused view of growth/success and probably money as well.

    Strangely (because I usually don’t think this way) money might actually be a more valid concern. If you have a small congregation that has more overhead than it ought to it could be an undue drain on a denomination or association. I would think that it would be equally valid to look into restructuring your set up to be a better steward of the resources you have, as it would be to look into growing numerically as a congregation.

    Just from personal experience I have found that the time I spent in a small (usually only around 12 people) congregation was one of the most beneficial times for my own growth.

  9. Michael says:

    I’m totally a small church guy…but i’m in the minority.

  10. dswoager says:

    MIchael, I agree with you. Frankly if you are a large congregation, or even a moderately sized one, you have to work to find a way to be intentionally small. If you can somehow be successful in that, then more power to you, but I honestly see more pitfalls in being large than being small.

  11. Michael says:


    It’s easy for me…I’ve capped attendence. 🙂

    For this I’ve been accused of being a cult leader and anti-Gospel…

  12. dswoager says:

    There was a Francis Chan video I watched a little while back that was looking at small home groups, and the idea seemed to be that if you got much over 20 people, you probably had what it would take to have a second group. I don’t know what became of it in real life, but a lot of what he said rung true for me.

  13. Xenia says:

    I love my small parish of about 50 people. If we want big and glorious, there’s the big and glorious cathedral in San Francisco where our bishop presides.

    I don’t like big churches, not even big Orthodox churches. Better a bunch of little churches than one big one, is my opinion.

  14. Xenia says:

    because they have little else to do all week <<<

    Yeah, those lazy pastors of small churches that don't have a staff to do all the work for them, who have to do everything all by themselves.

  15. Steve Wright says:

    Now Xenia, you know that is not the context I wrote that.

    I asked a legitimate question relevant to the article and posited some ideas as to why anyone up the denominational chain would be bothered by smaller churches. One legit reason would seem to be the issue of time.

    If that is not the case, then fine. Maybe it is about money as dswoager made mention.

  16. The guy who wrote the article starts with a pretty small assumption – that this is an issue anyone cares about. it’s not like some denomination put out a report or some conference was called to remedy the problem.

    He said “I heard it again recently. A church leader complained that …”

    What is a church leader?

  17. Steve Wright says:

    What is a church leader?
    Yeah, that was my starting question. But like I said, my dad and a couple other people are fighting to keep the doors open of the little Oklahoma town church that he was raised in and to which he donates a little each Christmas. They have almost no expenses, certainly none they ask the denomination to pay, but also few worshippers and no hope for growth as the town is just about dead.

    But the question remains, why would the denomination need to shut them down? What value is it to close churches that still are alive.

    I just do not get it…

  18. dswoager says:

    Yeah, in the exaple that you are giving, I can’t say that it makes much sense. It’s actually pretty messed up that it can even be a possibility To shut the doors on what has proven to be a viable group. How small are they? Is there any way of them re-establishing outside of the denominational control? I mean they can’t stop them from assembling, even if they own the building, they could just change the venue.

  19. Linnea says:

    Love the Internet Monk link “when someone’s in a storm”…
    How I remember with grief the counseling my husband and I received early in our marriage from an assistant pastor in our church: “These are the scriptures I prescribe for you, now go and do the right thing”. Wham, bam, thank you m’am, we’re done. Guess what? It didn’t help, in fact, if left a scar. Sound counseling, with a degree in counseling, rooted in the scriptures, is sadly missing from many evangelical churches. And it shouldn’t be missing.

  20. brian says:

    The Biologos forum is very helpful, thank you. I was wondering does anyone else find the stance of Biologos compelling?

  21. Steve Wright says:

    Linnea, if we had a large church, with a lot of salaried staff, one thing I would do right away is hire a licensed, educated, Christian counselor and give him/her an office on the property rent free. In exchange that person would then counsel a certain amount for the folks at the church and could use the rest of their time for private practice. My seminary had a large emphasis on counseling degrees at the graduate level for Christian practitioners.

    Pastors should not try serious counseling if they aren’t trained for it (and I don’t know one who is though I know trained counselors who have been ordained as pastors for various reasons) – I know pastors who have a lot of experience counseling, and that is their primary role on staff at larger churches, but even there it still is not quite the same.

    But the problem is many people want counseling…as long as it is free. And of course, many people can’t afford the cost of professional counseling even if they are willing to pay – so it is a great place for a ministry partnership of sorts.

  22. Linnea says:

    Steve, I love your idea of having a trained counselor on the premises. You clearly have a heart for helping your folks and have thought it through. And, I hear you when you say that many people want counseling as long as it’s free.

    I’ve seen one church in my town do what you’d like to do, and another houses a Christian counseling practice that provides counseling on a sliding fee basis. The pastor of the small church we attend is working on his PhD, with an emphasis in counseling. He’s gotten mixed reposes from people regarding the worth of his studies, but we cheer him on. What Tom and Maryellen Stipe have done at Crossroads is a great model for a larger church as well. Even if a pastor could refer folks to a group of trained counselors outside of the church, that would go a long way in removing the stigma from seeking counseling that I’ve found in some evangelical circles.

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