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Church Methods Don’t Matter—Until We Do Them Wrong

Church Methods Don't Matter—Until We Do Them Wrong

The church won’t change the world by adopting new methods. We won’t even save the church that way.

What will change the world is a praying church. A loving church. A worshiping church. An outward-reaching church. A Jesus-centric church.

The Great Commandment and the Great Commission are all that matter. They haven’t changed in 2,000 years because they don’t need to.

But.

I’m going to use new methods anyway.

To understand why, here’s an example of necessary change from the history of typing. Yes, typing.

Double-Spacing (A Real-Life Parable)

If you’re my age (born in 1959) or older, you were probably taught to double-space between sentences when typing. Why? Because our teachers had been raised in an era when most typewriters used monospace font, with every letter taking up the same amount of width on the page.

Those old typewriters left huge gaps of white space on either side of thin letters (like i), while wide letters (like m) were squeezed together. Double-spacing was needed after each period to made sentence breaks clear, aiding in readability.

That all changed in the 1950s and ’60s, when typewriters with proportional spacing became popular. Thin letters took up less page space, while wide letters used more, with uniform gaps between them. Those new typewriters also provided just the right width between sentences with just one touch of the space bar. Suddenly, double-spacing was not only unnecessary, but the big out-of-proportion gap they created made documents harder to read, not easier.

But old habits die hard.

Since most people were never taught why double-spacing was needed on the old typewriters, they didn’t understand the need to switch to single-spacing. Double-spacing was what they’d been taught and that’s what they would teach their students. So an entire generation learned to do it wrong.

Computers use proportional spacing. Double-spacing not only isn’t needed, it actually causes too much space between sentences, getting in the way of smooth reading and comprehension. The method we were taught to make our writing more readable then actually makes it less readable now.

Today, when I see the occasional email or a blog post with double-spacing, I know two things. 1) It will be a little harder to read, and 2) the author is my age or older.

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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.