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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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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