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The Franciscos: Faces in the Night

"I read recently that 80 percent of seminarians come from large churches, and yet 80 percent of the churches are small," says Alban Institute consultant Roy Oswald. He calls that "a cross-cultural barrier as tough as any foreign mission field."

In fact, he goes so far as to say "the difference between seminary religion and parish religion is greater than the difference between denominations."1In other words, it is easier to grow up Baptist and switch to Methodism than to move from a seminary to the pastorate of one of its supporting churches.

Most pastoral couples know exactly what he is talking about. They remember the heady intellectualism of seminary life, the animated conversations with classmates about how to reform Christendom, the dreams of future honor and achievement in the parish. Then came reality.

The transition is softened somewhat when a couple starts on a large-church staff. Expectations often run lower and are less focused. To become the one and only pastor of a small church, ...

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