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The Illusion of “Fast” Church

Posted on September 3rd, 2013

We want deep churches where people are transformed. We also want wide churches that grow rapidly in numbers. The problem is that these two values are often incompatible. Think about it. Let’s say you are committed to bridging racial barriers in the church. That requires you slow down enough to listen to people’s stories, to ponder the complexity of structural and personal racism, to wrestle with issues of power and privilege, to read history and perspectives different than your own. Let’s take sexuality, singleness, and marriage. You can offer a class for 300 people at a time, touching broad theological issues at the 10,000-foot level. The problem, however, is that the issues are highly complex and nuanced. Each person and marriage has personal questions and struggles that require one-on-one conversations. The very preparation for this kind of formation slows you down. Think about the breadth of what is involved in a person’s formation in Christ? Money, work, relationships, Scripture, learning to pray and to forgive, suffering, living in community– to name a few. It took Jesus three years to shape twelve followers. One dropped out. A servant is not greater than their master (Jn.15:20). You can build a crowd quickly that fill seats. That is not a church. That takes years.

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