Intelligent Quote of The Day

Want to avoid fundagelicalism? Unpaid pastors. Small congregations, including splitting them when they grow beyond 70. Minimal physical plant. Consensual decision making. Minimal doctrine. A strong bias towards spiritual growth and community development, and not necessarily numerical growth. These conditions will remove the money factor and the rules & regulations factor and keep the congregation healthy.

—Jay, expressing multiple thoughts over former church pastor’s blog, Why Churches Suck on the post written about the ugly trend of “fundagelicalism” in North American Christianity and how this trend can be stopped.

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3 thoughts on “Intelligent Quote of The Day

  1. During the early days of the 20th Century, Gilbert G. Rupert travelled throughout the United States establishing small congregations of 20 to 30 people. Most of the congregations were extended families in farming communities. These congregations still exist in some areas. There is one small on in Tenino, Washington which has kept the Feasts for as long as it has existed. The unpaid “pastor” is a farmer in his mid seventies. Some of the Feast days are kept in his home, although the church generally meets in downtown Tenino with their own church building.

    The model of this posting has been used sucessfully for a very long time. The Seventh Day Church of God, publishing The Herald of Truth has been in Caldwell, Idaho with a stable congregation for decades.

    In many ways, it does appear that this is how the early Christian Church was established in the first century A.D. The local congregations may not have been that much different than those today with groups of no more than 70 with a volunteer pastor.

    My observation as a past Manager for a major misfortune 50 corporation is that the best size is actually around 50 and that 70 may be stretching it. After the point of having 50 people (7 times 7 + 1), organizations begin to become unweildy, with compromise and corruption setting in. It is easier for people to really get to know one another and more difficult for some opportunistic psychopath to gain ascendancy. Often, congregations of this size tend to be families and extended families as is the case in one of the churches my wife and I attend. As such, they are more consistent and cohesive without any of the disadvantages of a plastic megachurch moving people Disneylike as cattle through vacuous services for the masses.

  2. A factor to be considered is that in many cases, particularly with major cults disintegrating into literally a thousand splinter split-offs, the original mission of setting an example and ministering to the people, is totally lost.

    In some venues, church wars have proliferated until the only thing left is an obsession to insure that your own church organization is the best of the Pack. Money and resources are poured into administration and efforts are concentrated on what is deemed to be a cheaper but more effective “Internet Work” with delusions of grandeur of reaching India and China. It would seem that their website is the most important thing in this world since Jesus left it.

    What has really been lost is people. Churches have become mindless, personalityless, pointless Church Corporate with the main focus being the existence and proliferation of the Church Corporate. There’s no room for any spirituality as cult organizations spend their time on endless church governance issues and reorganization.

    Truly, Jesus Christ could say, when he returns, “I never knew you” and add, “because I just never got into that whole corporation thing — I’m more interested in people”.

  3. The unfortunate truth is that with all organizations and businesses, the “growth” orientation of small churches represented by this entry will yield to one of the other three structures very rapidly:

    Task oriented,
    Role oriented,
    Authority (hierarchical).

    It is inevitable.

    The worst thing a church could do is to adopt the authoritarian hierarchy, which absolutely kills the small progressive church described in this entry, but unfortunately, no examples spring to mind where any church of this nature has stayed the course.

    In Tacoma, there was once a small neighborhood congregation of about 25 to 30 people. They really loved their minister and the man was a good one. He didn’t have much in the way of physical goods, but seemed to be spiritually rich. He promised that if the church ever grew, he would retain his humble digs.

    Here it is, decades later. His congregation prospered and so did he — to the extent that he was finally able to acquire his private mansion under the Narrows Bridge overlooking Puget Sound with his daughter having her own private mansion next to it.

    The congregation has also grown into a mega church with over 15,000 people attending each weekend. You know the drill: Vans pick up people in the parking lot for plastic 40 minute services with 20 minute sermons preached by hirelings. No one much sees the original pastor any more, except for his church board and the occasional special appearance.

    He who has an ear, let him hear.

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