What is the ideal size for a church?

One of the fringe meetings at a previous session of the General Synod a couple of years ago focussed on the needs of ‘mid-sized churches’, in this case defined as worshipping communities of 20 to 60. The reason for this was a question that William Nye, Secretary General of Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, had raised:

Without meaning to, a lot of the time, we, the national church institutions, just default to thinking about bigger churches, because a lot of people’s picture of the norm of the church is a vicar and about 100 people on a Sunday morning. We have overlooked this middle third. Lots of staff at Church House, lots of bishops, come up through bigger churches, worship in bigger churches; bishops have led bigger churches.

I suspect some would have questions about whether this size was really the middle, or the smaller end, but it has obvious implications for church growth, as the Church Times article points out:

Arithmetic done by staff at Church House suggests that, if each of the 5,000 mid-sized churches gained an extra five people, the Church of England’s decline would be reversed. About 200,000 people worship in these churches, which serve a population of 16 million.

(Let’s pass over the observation that that works out at an attendance rate of around 1.25%.) In the session, I did point out that, from my experienced of being a member of a church of around 50 membership in Southampton, and then being involved in larger churches, one of the challenges for the smaller or ‘mid-sized’ churches was that of resource. There is quite a strong expectation in contemporary culture that things will be done ‘well’ on a Sunday morning, and that means that a church community needs to be comparatively well organised and well resourced, which can be a struggle for smaller churches. It was not intended to be a criticism (though seemed to be taken as one!) but indicates that partnership between congregations might be a key question.

All this does raise the question of what is the idea size for a local church and why. Online discussion covers a range of issues. Some discussions focus on practical and technical issues; and this short summary describes an average attendance of around 100 ‘small’, which reflects its North American context. Church growth guru Carey Nieuwhof says that his short exploration of what keeps ‘small’ (less than 200 attendance) churches small is his most-read article—but I thought it interesting that he focusses almost exclusively on technical, structural issues, particularly around how leadership is organised.

The shift from structural issues to issues of relationship comes when we think about leadership and resourcing in more personal terms. One blog discussion from a Reformed perspective makes this observation:

There are several things to think about simultaneously. One way to go at this problem is to ask what is the ideal ratio of pastors to congregants? I was told in seminary that the ideal is one pastor for everyone hundred people. My experience as a pastor over the last 25 years suggests that this is a good ratio. If this is true, then, so long as a congregation is well staffed, theoretically, it could grow as large as it wanted. Others, however, have argued that about 200 to 250 is the ideal number of people in the congregation and that after a congregation reaches 200 to 250 people it should begin daughtering new congregations.

This is both a relational and a resource question: how many full-time leaders/pastors do you need for a congregation—and how many can you afford? The question of financing ministry, which is therefore also a question of the sustainability of smaller congregations, is easily avoided in the C of E because of the way that financial structures share resources. That can be very good, since it enables the C of E to sustain ministry in areas and contexts that other denominations have withdrawn from. But it can also be very bad, since it can allow us to avoid hard questions about what is going on in ministry and congregational leadership in different places.

This article by Ed Stetzer in Christianity Today magazine touched on some key relational issues:

Another advantage for churches of over 100 is the anonymity factor. Visitors and new attendees are able to come in and sit towards the back or in a place where they are most comfortable. They don’t have to sit right next to a stranger or walk to the front of the church to find an empty row.

Of course, there may be disadvantages to this as well. People may visit your church for weeks and go completely unnoticed because of the size. This is very unhelpful for the health and growth of the church. If you sense this is an issue in your church, it is time for you to form a plan make sure people feel seen and welcomed when they visit you.

It can also be more difficult for people to visit churches with less than 100 seats. Small congregations may feel more like cliques, drawing attention to the fact that visitors are ‘outsiders’ who are new to the group. If you are a smaller church, how are you handling this? If you don’t have a plan to welcome people in without making them feel uncomfortable, it is time to make one. In such a small church size, you need to work hard to make people feel welcome and show that you love them.

I think Stetzer is right to see anonymity as both a good and a bad thing; some people just want to slip into church at the back to explore, before being confronted with the full obligations of involvement, and I think this is often missed in discussions about relationship and size.

Some discussions do take a fully relational perspective, like this comment on a discussion board:

My own personal opinion is that a church should be between 80-120 members. When a church exceeds 100 members it becomes a bit more difficult to get to know everyone and the sense of close fellowship can be lost. With 80-120 members it is still big enough to be self supporting. My own personal view is that when a church reaches the 120 mark it should set aside around 40 members to be a church plant in a different nearby location. That church in turn will grow and plant.

So we have a variety of answers, considering a range of issues. But is there somewhere to look that might give us a more objective insight into the dynamics of this kind of human community? The New Testament does not give us direct answers, since it is less interested in numbers and structures compared with issues of theology and missional dynamics. But this theological perspective offers us two pointers. First, the ‘church’ (in the New Testament ekklesia) is about the formation of human community. Part of the clue to this is found in the extensive discussions of relationship dynamics, both in Acts and in the writings of Paul and others in the New Testament, with organic metaphors of the ‘body’, relational language of ‘incorporation’ into Christ, and even the metaphor of being ‘living stones, built into a temple’ (1 Peter 2.5). But the term ekklesia is also key; rather than having the institutional or architectural implications that the word ‘church’ has today, it draws on both the Greek meaning of the gathering of citizens in a polis as well as the gathered people of Israel in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. (That is why the AV often mentions the ‘congregation of Israel’ within the OT narratives.)

But the early Jesus movement was not just any human community; NT writers understood it as involving the recreation of humanity as God had intended, and the ‘new creation’ (2 Cor 5.17) in anticipation of God’s renewal of the whole of the created order. Although we can see that this community was clearly not perfect and not without its problems, nevertheless it modelled something of the ideal of the new humanity in Jesus, for example in the sharing of possessions in Acts 2.42f.

There is therefore a good reason why we might look to the natural dynamics of human community, that is, to anthropology, for insights into the ideal size of a local church.

A fascinating episode of The Life Scientific, hosted by Jim Al-Khalili, comprised an interview with Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar. Dunbar started his academic life exploring the social dynamics of gelada monkeys in the Ethiopian highlands, living with a group of 500 of them for most of his 20s! (It is worth listening to the whole episode.) One aspect of their social life that particularly struck him was the amount of time the monkeys spent grooming, something that it is easy to notice amongst primates when you watch any wildlife film. At the time, there were two major and competing theories: the purpose of grooming was about hygiene; and the purpose was about building social relationships. Dunbar wanted to decide which of these was most important, and had to think about how this might be tested. So he analysed the amount of time spent in grooming and compared it with two things—primate body size, and the complexity of social relationships. He found no correlation with body size, but what appeared to be a clear correlation with social complexity. In other words, if you are going to maintain a complex society, you need to invest time in building a wide range of strong relationships.

This led him on to consider a wider issue of why different primate groups have different levels of complexity in their social organisation. Complexity has advantages, for example the sharing of resources and the ability to protect one another. But it also makes higher demands, since (in essence) you need to be smarter to manage complex relationships. So Dunbar compared brain size with size of social group, found there was a clear correlation, so extrapolated up to the size of the human cortex, and arrived at Dunbar’s number: 147 (usually rounded to 150). He believed that this was, in principle, the optimal number for human social groups—and in fact found numerous historical examples of human social groups naturally settling into this size. The number has been sufficiently important that some businesses have even organised their offices into groups of this size.

Although this number is the best-known aspect of his work, Dunbar actually sees human interaction in a more nuanced and textured way. In a reflection on why social drinking is so important in many human cultures, he makes this comment:

Our studies suggest that we devote about 40 per cent of our available social time (and the same proportion of our emotional capital) to an inner core of about five shoulders-to-cry-on. And we devote another 20 per cent to the next 10 people who are socially most important to us. In other words, about two-thirds of our total social effort is devoted to just 15 people. That is a very substantial commitment, and amounts to an average of about two hours a day. It makes it all the more necessary that what we do with them is fun, otherwise they won’t keep coming back for more.

From an anthropological, psychological and social perspective, he sees human relationships clustering around the group sizes of 5, 15 and 150, and in fact in other conversation adds a mid-sized group of around 50.

There are two intriguing things to note about this structuring of community in relation to the question of the ideal church size.

The first is that there is some evidence in the New Testament of this kind of differentiated numerical structure. It is often noted that, amongst the twelves apostles (making 13 altogether, not far from Dunbar’s second number), Jesus was particularly close to Peter, James and John, these being the ones he took with him up the mountain at his transfiguration. There are good arguments that the ‘beloved disciple’ who is the writer of the fourth gospel, was not one of the Twelve, but a disciple based in Jerusalem, and that would give us a core group of close friends of five, in Jesus, Peter, James, John and the Beloved Disciple. The 72 sent on ‘mission’ in Luke 10 are not far off Dunbar’s third number, though there are other obvious symbolic reasons for this number, being half of 144. In Acts 1.15, the number of ‘brothers’ is around 120, though this also includes the women who were present, adelphoi being used as a generic term for followers of Jesus.

It is also worth noting that in the first century you need 10 adult Jewish men to form a synagogue, and adding in wives and children that would get you to around Dunbar’s third number. This is also the kind of size of many early Christian communities meeting in large houses, according to Peter Oakes in his exploration of the practical dynamics of Christian meetings in Reading Romans in Pompeii

(In the one discussion I did find of church size in relation to Dunbar’s main number, Howard Snyder notes the correlation of this number with his observations of congregational dynamics—but he does not mention Dunbar’s other numerical observations.)

Returning to our opening question: what is the ideal size of a church or congregation? Well, actually is it all of 5, 15, 50 and 150. If we want to encourage genuine growth, encouragement and accountability, there is nothing quite like have a small group or 4 or 5 that meets regularly; in the church where we belong, these are called ‘core groups’. But the ‘home group’ of 12 to 15 has had a good track record, as a place for more general learning and mutual support since they became popular in the charismatic renewal from the end of the 1960s. Sandy Miller told us at a church weekend away that ‘pastorates’ of around 40, not far from Dunbar’s third number, has been key in not only church growth but the nurture of leaders in the HTB network—and this corresponds to the ‘mid-sized church’ that we began with. And once you reach 150 as a congregation, it is probably time to think about church planting, a strategy which the C of E now appears to be taking to heart.

These things matter because, when it comes to the kingdom of God, relationships matter. Numbers matter because numbers represent people, and people matter.

(Published previously.)

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60 thoughts on “What is the ideal size for a church?”

  1. Ian, you may have read David Keener’s blog from 2019, when he comments on (declining) church size from the Statistics for Mission data (see http://davidkeen.blogspot.com/2020/10/last-chance-to-see-church-of-england.html). He offered this allegorical image of church sizes that I sometimes use in discussions about church leadership:

    By accident rather than design, the Church of England has ended up with a Tesco structure. Tesco has a small number of ‘Tesco Extra’ megastores (Cathedrals), about 15% of its outlets are
    ‘Tesco Superstore’ (large church, kids and youth work, several outreach projects, sizeable fringe), there’s a few ‘Tesco Metro’ stores which are scaled down versions of the superstores (75th percentile churches), but 3/4 are either Tesco Express or One Stop, small corner shop versions, providing local access to a core selection of produce. The management, logistics and life of a megastore is very different to that of Tesco Express, though they all carry the same branding, and some shared products.

  2. I think it was in James Dunn’s commentary on 1 Corinthians that I read the idea that a typical NT congregation would be about 40. That size puts the factionalism evident in the letter into an interesting perspective: perhaps 10 people in each of the 4 factions.

    Small(ish) does not necessarily mean united.

  3. I think the key point we learn from the studies of Robin Dunbar about monkeys grooming is that before going to church we should, at the very least, have a wash. If the monkeys can do it, so can we.

  4. There was a time when the division of the tribes, families and delegated heads by Moses was seen as a model for leadership and delegation.
    But, I could imagine Moses being awakened by the sun streaming into his tent, drawing the fabric open, looking out and groaning, “O Lord, they are still here”.

  5. There is quite a strong expectation in contemporary culture that things will be done ‘well’ on a Sunday morning, and that means that a church community needs to be comparatively well organised and well resourced, which can be a struggle for smaller churches.

    If you want to see this ‘problem’ ignored, go to a small charismatic nonconformist congregation, where limited musical competence in worship, reading of scripture by uncoached children, service leaders unsure of what comes next, etc, is seen as cuddly. Then you’ll quickly repent of your view.

    Limited resources is not a problem. What is needed, everywhere, is preparation in advance and a wise choice of frontmen (and -women).

    • go to a small charismatic nonconformist congregation, where limited musical competence in worship, reading of scripture by uncoached children, service leaders unsure of what comes next, etc, is seen as cuddly

      Hm, I can see that but I can also see it becoming wearing.

      I think more important is to do what is done well, but not to fall into the trap of trying to do too much. For example, if you don’t have enough skilled people to run a ‘worship band’ with a sound system, just have one piano. Do simple well, rather than trying to be super-ambitious and doing badly.

      The one thing you can’t skimp really skimp on is preaching, but then if you don’t have a decent preacher there’s really no hope.

    • I’m unsure why this might be confined to “charismatic” congregations…. Things done badly don’t have style limits I’d have thought.
      A church might “get away with it” because of warm internal relationships… but not neccessaily with prospective new members

  6. Let’s not confuse the size of a ‘church’ and the size of a group that gathers regularly around the Lord Jesus Christ. From 1 Corinthians 14 it is clear that everybody is meant to contribute as an individual, and from other scriptures it is clear that believers in one town form a single church. It follows that homegroup is the main regular expression of our faith, with occasional meetings of the entire body of believers in the town.

    • Just because that may have been the way they did it in the first couple of decades of the church doesnt mean that is how it should be done now. I dont think there are any hard and fast rules.

      • To see 1 Cor 14 as a rulebook is not what I meant. That would be legalism. It describes a way of being church, and is a divinely given precedent.

          • More to it than that. Christians should expect persecution (2 Tim 3:12), which precludes the building of large prideful buildings but is more compatible with house meetings with occasional larger gatherings.

            The believers in Corinth would not have recognised the notion of a ‘church service’, for nothing like one is described in Paul’s letters or the rest of the New Testament. Believers meet Jesus Christ most closely – just like meeting anyone else present (Matthew 18:20) – in interactions within homegroups and in private prayer. Every meeting of Christians is unique in its combination of people and the circumstances in which they gather. The Holy Spirit can respond appropriately. That is impossible among believers who meet only at a weekly service at which everybody does the same thing. They cannot interact, even if there is an open-microphone policy (which tends to encourage exhibitionism). They do not look into each other’s faces, which tell more than words. Holy Communion is not taken in the table setting described in 1 Corinthians 11. Hymns or songs are sung that have been chosen by a worship or congregation leader, you sit through a sermon without discussing what is said, you say Amen at the end of prayers that have been tailored by somebody else. (Jesus intended the Lord’s Prayer to be prayed alone on behalf of others, according to Matthew 6:6-13.) Even in the Old Testament no words were specified for Temple ceremonies, only what was to be done.

            ‘High’ church liturgy engages the parts of a person that appreciate theatre and complex choir music but, although music and drama can be deeply moving and beautiful, the parts of us they touch do not engage with God personally. In a fixed liturgy there is no room for Jesus Christ to manifest; atheists could entire into it. Liturgy is no substitute for koinonia, the corporate expression and experience of the Holy Spirit. Jesus loves and interacts with each of us as individuals, and this must make the way we gather round him different from gatherings in other religions. Reading out a declaration of love or a formulaic apology from a book, or learnt by rote, would not impress your spouse, so why would it impress God? No liturgy is found in the New Testament. Talking and impromptu prayer over coffee after a service is often closer to 1 Corinthians 14.

          • Anton – you seem to be quite keen on home groups. As far as I’m concerned, the location is irrelevant, except that from what I’ve seen, the home group format can lead to the selfish self-obsessed format where people ‘share’ their own difficulties-of-life and then expect the other participants to pray for them. It seems the antithesis of praying for the mission at home and abroad (and dealing with one’s own personal difficulties by noting that, when compared with what is going on in the mission, and the persecution in this context, one’s own difficulties-of-life are utterly insignificant).

            Home group format is OK provided it doesn’t go down this road.

          • Jock: Your concerns need to be taken into account when running homegroups/churches, but you have ignored the arguments and positive points I have set out.

          • Anton – I think I more or less agree with the positive case for house groups – but unfortunately I see it as ‘theoretical’ – in the sense that whenever I have seen house groups ‘in action’ it has invariably degenerated into the self-centred approach that I described. So I’m not at all sure that the arguments / positive points work in practise.

          • Anton. Thank you for your comment at 08.38, which closely reflects my own thoughts and expresses them better than I could have done. It deserves to be deeply pondered.

          • Dear Steven and Jock: Try the books Reimagining Church and Finding Organic Church by Frank Viola. This is closer to what I’m getting at.

        • I have been thinking about church. A home group is like a stork of wheat, the individuals are the ears. The next size up are sheaves. Regional gatherings are stooks. Heaven is the Barn.
          Just perhaps megastooks might need threshing before being gathered into the Barn?
          If that happens, pray to fall on good soil.

  7. One wonders what the monkees think about the so-called mega churches in the US where thousands apparently attend each Sunday…

    • PC1 – I’m still intrigued by these Monkees and the conclusions by Robin Dunbar and the reasons for these conclusions – that since the time spent grooming didn’t depend on the size of the monkey, therefore it wasn’t simply connected with ablutions. It looks to me like the widget fallacy (if it takes 5 men 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long does it take 100 men to make 100 widgets? The answer is, of course, 5 minutes. Cognitive scientists like this question, because they use it to test their dual response theories – an intuitive quick response would be 100 minutes; the longer response, after some thought might be 5 minutes).

      The point is, if you have a small monkey grooming another small monkey, then the smaller monkey has smaller hands and therefore takes longer to groom a monkey of given size, so it wouldn’t be surprising that small monkeys and large monkeys end up spending the same amount of time grooming – even if the object of the exercise were simply keeping clean.

      As far as church size goes – I really don’t care about the size, just as long as the Word of God is proclaimed and the service is aimed at the glory of God (rather than to the glory of, for example, some ‘worship group’).

      • Jock I noticed your comments on how you think churches should work. I would just say all suffering is relative and I dont think the writers of the NT dismiss personal suffering, as if to say yours is nothing compared to someone else in another country (if that was the case, why did Paul bother to plead with God to remove his thorn in the flesh, whatever that was?). James told his hearers to confess one’s sins to each other, and if healing is needed to ask for it. I would suggest it is hard to do that if meaningful relationships are not formed. Also the gifts of the Spirit seem to be largely for the church as opposed to those ‘outside’, for building up as Paul would call it.

  8. “I think Stetzer is right to see anonymity as both a good and a bad thing; some people just want to slip into church at the back to explore, before being confronted with the full obligations of involvement, and I think this is often missed in discussions about relationship and size.”

    I’d agree wholeheartedly. People come in all shapes and sizes in terms of personality and spiritual character. We need to leave space for people to attend in less pressured ways (as they feel comfortable) . It’s a balance in not ignoring them but not pushing our expectations or a church admim dictating “get their names /contact details” as soon as they cross the threshold. Personally I will not do it.. though I may well get their names. Personal contact is fundamentally more important at the beginning of a prospective “relationship” and remains so throughout.

    There’s a connection with building size not just people numbers. They need not-yet-filled space. Otherwise no one can sit apart at all but are forced together. And research in the 70s showed that people who can’t get a seat won’t stay. Yes, I’ve known overflowing Sunday mornings. It works for a time and can be a magnet in itself but a bigger space is a long term necessity and/or planting others churches from seed-stock.

  9. One of the helpful things arising from ‘Church growth’ thinking was a distinction between ‘cell’ (about a dozen), ‘congregation’ (up to around 100) and ‘celebration’. Each has its place. And when we are asked what church is *for* we might reply not so much in terms of ‘worship’ (that’s a whole-life thing!), more in terms of ‘edification’.

  10. ” … for growth, encouragement and accountability, there is nothing quite like having a small group or 4 or 5 that meets regularly” – but wait. Person X – female for the purpose of the discussion, though could equally well be male – is a human being, so her inner core of 4 or 5 already exists – her husband, her sister, one at the other end of the UK and a best-friend-from-school now in Germany. Now if you say that she *also* needs a church-based inner core of 4 or 5, then you and Dunbar are suggesting *either* that she devotes about 40 per cent of her emotional capital to group A and 40 per cent of her emotional capital to group B, *or* that she ditches group A and rebuilds her emotional life from scratch around a group of strangers – and further, rebuilds her emotional life from scratch a second time when the family move house 100 miles away. I suggest that both options are unrealistic.

    • you and Dunbar are suggesting *either* that she devotes about 40 per cent of her emotional capital to group A and 40 per cent of her emotional capital to group B, *or* that she ditches group A and rebuilds her emotional life from scratch around a group of strangers

      Or that ‘emotional capital’ isn’t simply additive like that; that we all have separate reserves of emotional capital in different contexts, like family, friends, work, etc.

  11. What part does discipleship have in church size, numbers?
    Is there any distinction to be made between, *visible* and *invisible* church, or between social members and playing members to use a club membership analogy?
    We can all scrub-up well,
    ( white-washed tombs?) but that is not the cleanliness looked for.

  12. 200+ may be an ideal size for a congregation in a town of tens of thousands, or a city of hundreds of thousands if not millions. However in rural areas it is just not realistic, indeed entire Parishes may have only a few hundred people in them, indeed some have less than 100. Smaller rural congregations also tend to be more community minded, everyone gets to know everyone, the Vicar or Minister and congregation support activities from the farmers market to the village Fete and pantomime and concerts in church and work with the local primary school and while smaller in absolute numbers are therefore more connected to the broader local community than many urban churches are (despite the good work they often do for the homeless or poor)

  13. As far as I can see, this article starts with the wrong question – and then proceeds to discuss the matter in the wrong way; it is all about community. (To quote: First, the ‘church’ (in the New Testament ekklesia) is about the formation of human community.)

    The point is that while `community’ (in the sense of bonding and friendships) will happen when Christians meet together, this is not the aim of the church. To give an example: suppose I were very interested in chess (I’m not), then I would join a chess club. I would enjoy playing chess and I would enjoy discussing the chess games of other club members with them. Before long, friendships would emerge – and these might extend beyond the setting of the chess club where they were first formed.

    With church, you have to change chess for the purpose of the church – and then you get exactly the same thing. The fellowship will emerge, but this will be in response to participating in the mission of the church – ramming `fellowship’ down peoples throats is very likely to have the opposite of the desired effect.

    The church should be centred around The Word, proclaiming it in such a way that unbelievers may be convicted of their sins and turn to Jesus, at the same time building up mature Christians, who never tire of hearing the old old story. One of the central activities of the church is to pray for the mission at home and the mission abroad. This should be the aspect that cures those self-centred self-obsessed needy people who seem to need shoulders-to-cry-on (something mentioned in the article) of just about all of their own difficulties-of-life; when you are in a prayer meeting where the real issues faced by the mission at home and abroad are presented to you, that is when you truly understand that your own difficulties-of-life are utterly insignificant in comparison.

    When meeting together to hear / expound the Word of God, to pray for the mission at home and abroad, to sing God’s praises (and I mean sing – not get sung to by some spiritual A team up front), (a) size is utterly irrelevant and (b) the fellowship will develop, but this is a consequence and is not the aim.

    When I see articles like this, where the aim seems to be fellowship and questions such as optimal size seem to be of importance, I begin to understand what has gone wrong and why it is so difficult to find a church that is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

  14. Geoff,
    The Monkees had a hit called ‘I want to be free’. Non -conformists do have their problems of course, but at least they are not tied up like the labyrinth workings of the Cof E. While there is much about the liturgy of the CofE that is admirable and its majestic buildings, I am glad I am not part of its theological infighting, internal incoherence and directed by Bishops who are more like corporate managers than shepherds, and who largely seem to have lost the plot.

  15. Steve,
    Is that “like a *Bird on a Wire* …like a drunk in a midnight choir, (they) have tried in their way to be free,” from the class of priestly Cohens. ?

  16. I am not sure but I don’t think that Jesus thought in terms of Mega Churches;
    Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

    Or Paul, Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
    Act 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
    Or Peter, 1 Pet 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
    1 Pet 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

    I feel that The Holy Spirit has moved on from here to the Global South
    However, I am encouraged by the Word, that “He will grow up as a root out of dry ground” And that He declares that “He will build my[his] church.”
    Perhaps the dead wood might be being pruned for increased fruitfulness.
    As one divine once said “They [the wicked] are being fattened for slaughter, but you are being dieted for fruitfulness.
    Maybe a good thread might be “What is our doctrine of the Church? Over the decades I have never hear of such an enquiry.
    As for Frank Viola and George Barna I recommend “Pagan Christianity”, by Frank Viola and George Barna
    a book Review @ 9Marks.com .
    The kingdom of God is “in” a/the Church but the Church may not be in the Kingdom of God.


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