Church Growth Meets the Real World

Close to 80 percent of my seminary class came out of a metropolitan church, campus church, or urban parish that gets denominational support. It's in these places that people catch the vision for ministry.

Whenever I watch Christian TV, I see the churches of Charles Stanley, Ben Haden, Robert Schuller, and others. In these types of churches—plus church camps, retreat centers, and Bible studies in university towns—many clergy conceived the vision of what ministry can be like (versus the old, Gothic-style Methodist/Lutheran/UCC church of their parents). Upon graduation, however, we seminarians found that 80 percent of the vacancies are in that parish of our parents.

As I see the seminary advertisements in Leadership, I wonder if they're telling prospective seminarians that only a small percentage of calls are in big churches. Many are in small, struggling churches like mine.


In rural America, I live with contradictions of sorts. Many people claim to be salt-of-the-earth-old-time-backbone-of-America-rural-people—until ...

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