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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Let's fully welcome refugees. Remember, refugees aren't terrorists...they're the ones fleeing away from violence, war, and terrorism. 
Afraid? Me too. It's ok to acknowledge we're afraid since it confirms we're all...just...human. We're all afraid on some level especially when our culture seems to run on the currency of fear but as we live out our faith in Christ and more deeply embody compassion and love, fear begins to dissipate. It's also incredibly critical to know that agencies are implementing some of the most rigorous and thorough vetting ever. 
My family hosted a Somalian Muslim family from a refugee camp years ago through @WorldRelief. It was eye opening, challenging (especially with language realities), and yet, encouraging...and we hope to host families again in the future as they resettle in a completely new and foreign city and country. It's a terrifying experience. And while not a refugee, I remember the first few months as an immigrant when I was six years old. To this day, I remember the kindness of folks that helped us through that transition. Lift a prayer for me as I'm privileged to collaborate in ministry here in Melbourne, Australia. Meeting with local pastors, teaching at the Justice Conference (10/21-22). Then, preaching at the Bridge Church on Sunday  Pray that in preaching the whole Gospel from the Scriptures, I may honor God, point people to Jesus, and be sensitive to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Interesting. The holy bench. Wow. And in a blink of an eye, this happened. The nights might be long but the years go by fast. #ParentProverbs #WhatHappenedToMy13YearOldSon This past week, @seattlequest celebrated its 15th Anniversary. In many ways, it feels like forever and in other ways, it just seemed like we just started yesterday.

Around May 2000, Minhee and I found out we were expecting a 2nd child. Then, we got another surprise. We felt a calling and stirring to plant a church. We told God, "This is horrible timing!" We left a thriving ministry that we started in the Seattle surburbs and felt compelled to move into the city to plant a new multiethnic church called Quest. To be honest, we were so scared. Minhee was pregnant. Our insurance was about to run out. But we ventured forth. Once I resigned from this church, I had plans, goals, strategies...and none of them materialized. Only bills and payments. I quickly found out that a Masters of Divinity degree - as cool as it may sound - is actually useless in society. No one wanted to hire me. I was unemployed for months. We were eventually on food stamps and DSHS insurance.

In December 2000, we welcomed our 2nd child to the world. When "T" was born, we cried more than the baby. Couple days later, I finally landed a job as the janitor at a Barnes & Noble store. It wasn't quite what I was envisioning but God really worked through this "valley season." And we finally felt peace about starting Quest. Seven people gathered in our living room and several months later on October 2001, Quest Church was officially launched. 
It has not been easy. We've been hurt and worse, we learned we hurt people. More accurately, I hurt people. We've heard our share of criticisms and sometimes, even worse. I've been called my share of names. Too many to list. I've been too liberal, too conservative, too edgy, too rigid, too blunt, too passive. We spent many nights crying out to the Lord...for direction, for peace, for answers. We usually never got the answers we were wanting...but we always felt His presence - even during our valleys. To be honest, we still have many restless nights. In fact, I think we have had more restless nights these past two years than we did in the first two years. 
But through it all. God has been so faithful and gracious. Thank you, Lord. The good ol' days when I just wanted to make music. My kids have no idea how coooooooool I was. #OriginalMacPowell

my tweets

  • It's my birthday today. Grateful for family/friends. Above all, Jesus: Grateful for life, gift of salvation & the privilege of serving You. || 1 day ago
  • Let's fully welcome refugees. Remember, refugees aren't terrorists...they're fleeing from violence, war, terrorism:…… || 1 day ago
  • Lift a prayer for me as I preach in Melbourne, Australia. That I may honor God, point to Jesus, be sensitive to HS: || 1 day ago
  • Political inclinations aside, you discover much about a person in defeat. Finish well. This is leadership, too. || 2 days ago
  • Left. Right. Liberal. Conservative. Whatever your adjective, followers of Christ ought to be for the sanctity of life - from womb to tomb. || 2 days ago
  • Politics and politicians frustrate me. However, we must engage politics b/c politics create policy & policy affects people & people matter. || 2 days ago



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