Eugene Cho

thou shalt not lie about the size of your church

Who’s from Texas?

If you are, don’t take this personally.

I just got back from a short trip to Texas. I was speaking at Catalyst Dallas – a Christian leadership conference. But this post isn’t about faith, leadership, courage, or anything so dramatic.

During this trip, a friend asked me if I’d ever consider moving to Texas.


Well, I don’t know much about Texas besides the usual stereotypes. I really don’t have anything concrete to say regarding why I wouldn’t enjoy living there but I think I’ve finally found a reason why I could never move to Texas.

Because, if I did, I would end up going to jail!

Check out this funky story. Texas lawmakers – who’ve been proned to do some crazy things (in my opinion) have made it illegal to lie about the size of your fish via a new law – HB 1806:

A very important bill landed on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s desk yesterday — one that would make it a crime to lie about the size of a fish caught in a freshwater or saltwater tournament. Apparently this is a widespread problem in the Semiautonomous Region of Texas, and one that has lately rocked the world of high-stakes professional angling.

Umm, I feel convicted and should come clean about my fishing tales. I kinda fabricated the below video. I did catch this beautiful bass but caught it about a minute before I got my daughter to hit the record button so I could possibly land my own fishing TV show some day. I just wanted to come clean – just in case Washington enacts a similar law.

So, here’s a provocative question since pastors and churches might be similarly tempted to inflate the “size” of their churches. I can’t speak for other pastors but I certainly do. I wouldn’t call it lying but my wife has been astute to remind me that I tend to always “round UP” my numbers. So…

What if there was a law that pastors and churches can’t lie, fabricate, or round-up their church attendance?

Oh snap. 

Punishable by death via Leviticus? Oh snap x 2. So, 

Here’s the full story (via Gawker):

A very important bill landed on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s desk yesterday — one that would make it a crime to lie about the size of a fish caught in a freshwater or saltwater tournament. Apparently this is a widespread problem in the Semiautonomous Region of Texas, and one that has lately rocked the world of high-stakes professional angling.

Violating this proposed law — which passed unanimously in the State Senate — would be considered a misdemeanor, unless prize money of $10,000 or more is involved, whereby the crime becomes a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The Times spoke with several fishermen, like Tommy Hagler, a fishing guide who claims he’s never once lied about the size of a fish he’s caught: “In this business, you’ve got to tell the truth the whole time and all the time tell the truth.”

It’s been a monumental week for Texas lawmaking.

Heck, this story even made the New York Times. Crazy.

But hey, while we’re boasting about fish, here’s the biggest bass I’ve caught. But here’s some inside scoop about how to make your fish look big:

Instead of holding the fish next to you, you extend your arm completely forward as close to the camera and thus, making the fish “look bigger.” LOL.

So, what’s the “inside scoop” of how churches inflate their numbers?

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14 Responses

  1. Garrett S. says:

    This is kind of awesome. And by kind of, I mean fully awesome.

    In speaking of awesome, the question you posed is definitely a Jesus Juke. (

    Thirdly, lying about the size of the church is like lying about how you go out with a girl you really don’t know: everyone is going to find out and you’re going to look like an idiot.

  2. Daniel says:

    This post is kinda funny and kinda not. The latter because it’s true.

  3. Too bad we didn’t connect in Dallas, Eugene. I had no idea you were visiting my neck of the woods…

  4. gsb says:

    i don’t know about the church generally speaking but the “inside scoop” at quest? don’t just tally what you see but stretch your faith and count all the babies in-utero!….as TWINS! bam! 700 ;)

  5. Tony Lin says:

    I once heard that asking a pastor for their church size is like asking someone for their salary.

    Sociologically, there is some evidence that people lie about church attendance so it’s not just pastors who inflate… parishioners inflate church attendance too.

  6. jeff e. says:

    i was on staff at a church (no q in the initials, so rest easy e.c.) for a pastor who counted attendance on sundays, added it to the number of small groups that would meet during the week, added that total to other meetings (i.e. elders/session/leadership/youth/etc) and would total up that as the number of attendees each week. some of us were being counted 5-6 times per week–maybe more…

  7. […] R.C. Sproul, Jr. A Moderate Evangelical’s Assessment of ‘Love Wins’ – Carson T. Clark Thou Shalt Not Lie About the Size of Your Church – Eugene Cho Rethinking the Pro-life Label – Stephen Prothero, CNN Belief Blog Franklin […]

  8. JJ says:

    How about counting the members of the staff and worship team several times? ;)

  9. […] Cho had a funny and insightful post about pastors lying about church attendance, which he compares to fish stories. It isn’t uncommon in the “church biz” to […]

  10. jchenwa says:

    I must be Korean because I know what a church is. You man@!

  11. […] and try as I might, I can’t think of a thing.”Cornel West goes after President Obama.Thou shalt not lie about… Thanks TedMeanderings in the News1. W.W.: “If it turns out that the road to plutocracy is […]

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One Day’s Wages

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The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

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