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.

I…umm…well…umm…uh…

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. (http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2010/11/the-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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First day of our daughter's college years at this great school. We love you. We're so proud of you.We believe in you. Go Huskies. Go Dawgs. And also, beat Stanford this Friday. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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