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And Then There Were Eleven
Andy Bustanoby
(C) September 10, 2005

     Though seminarians are not taught that success in the pastorate is
     measured by the size of their church, everything that they see while
     in seminary and after graduation says just the opposite.  Pastors
     invited to speak at the seminary are from megachurches.  Television
     preachers usually are pastors with megachurches.  But this fixation
     on the megachurch may be a source of discouragement to the majority
     of the nation's pastors.

     A study done at Duke University reveals that two-thirds of all
     pastors preach to congregations of one-hundred or less.  And only
     twenty-five percent of churchgoers attend such churches.  This means
     that two-thirds of the pastors in this country minister to
     twenty-five percent of the church-going public.

     The significance of these statistics to me is this.  If numbers
     mean  success, two-thirds of the pastorate is not successful!  I
     don't accept that conclusion, but I'm sure that many pastors feel
     that way.

     I often think of the ministry of Jesus.  He came to die for our sins
     and to establish a church that would proclaim His gospel.  In three
     years of ministry, He poured most of His time, attention, teaching
     and life into just twelve men, yet one betrayed Him.  Though the
     failure was in Judas, not Jesus, that's more than eight percent of
     this small band.

     Considering numbers, this wasn't very promising.   Though three
     thousand were added to the church on the Day of Pentecost, we don't
     read of megachurches in the New Testament.  We read of individuals
     and the discipling of individuals.  Even the most extensive list of
     believers recorded in Scripture at the end of Paul's letter to the
     Romans reveals that there were not so many believers in Rome that
     they got lost in the crowd.  Two letters were written to just one
     man--Timothy, Paul's son in the faith.  Titus, whom Paul also calls
     a son in the faith, gets a letter and a place in the New Testament.
     Though two believers and a house-church are greeted in the letter to
     Philemon, the burden of the letter is to this slave master about his

     What I'm getting at is this.  Christianity has not made an impact on
     the world through the building of megachurches.  It's impact on the
     world comes through the building of individual believers.

     For you pastors who minister to the few, my prayers are that God may
     give you the kind of faithful eleven that Jesus discipled.  Therein
     lies the future of the church.

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