USA Pastor Robert Hudnut: It is a tough time for the American church.


Section One: Heads and Tails – Tales of Paradox

Systemic Problem #1: Not making disciples

HEADS. USA Pastor Robert Hudnut: It is a tough time for the American church. In many quarters membership is down. Attendance is down. But church growth is not the point. The point is whether the church is being true to the Gospel. And, in city after city and town after town, it is. Indeed, because it is being faithful it is often losing members.

 . . . Loss of growth in statistics has often meant increase in growth in the Gospel. The “dead wood” is gone. The “faithful remnant” remains. The church is lean and stripped for action in the ‘70s. . . .

            God is what keeps us hanging in there at the corner of State and Main. Waiting. Catching the fire. Being gripped by the most powerful force in the world. Committed to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Turning it. That’s what doing church in the 1970s is all about. And that’s why millions of people every week, in decreasing numbers but increasing power, are saying, “Church growth is not the point. Faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ is.” Here’s a book on how to be faithful. Correction: on how God, incredibly, is being faithful through us – good old middle-class, statistically faltering, us.

            This means, among other things, the recovery of the passive.[1]





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]Robert K. Hudnut, preface to Church Growth Is Not the Point, (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), ix-x. The Illinois Great Rivers Conference has a net loss of 109,943 members since 1975 (41%).

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