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STRETCHING YOUR SMALL-TWON CHURCH

Six ways that passive bodies can reach out with more vigor.

I grew up attending a hundred-member church located in a town of about three hundred. One evening when I was a teenager, a visiting speaker showed a film about personal witnessing. When the film was over, he pressed the congregation to discuss the ideas presented.

Richard, one of the church's lay elders, stood and said, "We appreciate your coming here, but everyone in this town already knows about our church. We've talked to them about what we believe. We've invited them to our services. Our church has helped them out when they've been in need. Nothing has worked. I don't think we want to spend any more of our time on this topic."

It was the first time I heard someone articulate the frustration we all had felt. In the mission fields, they told us, thousands were being baptized. In metropolitan centers, public and personal evangelism were reaping thousands more. The harvest was ripe, they said. Then why, when we'd tried so hard, was our little church the same size it had been fifty years ...

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