Tag Archives: bonds

Dunbar’s Number

150 membersHave you ever heard of “Dunbar’s Number”? Discovered by British evolutionary anthropologist Robin Dunbar, it is the human norm that the number of genuinely personal relationships a person can actively maintain is 150, give or take. Dunbar and his colleagues note that “150 people is both the approximate size of a typical small-scale human village and about the number of people who can live or work together without needing power structures to enforce cooperation. The group is small enough that social pressures can keep people in line” (“Does Your Pastor Need a Friend?” Christianity Today, October 2017, p. 62).

I find this interesting because at a recent conference I attended, the keynote speaker said that currently a majority of congregations in America have an average weekly attendance of guess what? 150 members.

It occurs to me that this is not simply a coincidence. 150 appears to be the sweet spot for most churches for the very reasons that research for Dumbar’s Number indicates:

It keeps the group manageable. People do not become just a number. People know them by name. Functions can happen without an overflow of people and not in an oversize room.

It keeps the group personal. Everybody knows each other and can keep relationships functioning. People care about one another because they know them well and see them often.

It keeps the group accountable. People notice when others are missing and can follow up with them. People can see when fellow members are straying and can bring them back into the fold. There is a sense that people are expected to be present at certain times and be there for one another in times of need.

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Risen

I saw the movie Risen in the theater a couple weeks ago, and was especially struck by how the actors portrayed the disciples’ individual reunions with their Savior. There was utter joy on their faces at seeing their Master again and Jesus responded with pure exuberance at seeing them again as they embraced one another. The movie’s portrayals of these interactions spoke to the depth of the bonds that Jesus had with his disciples and the eagerness they all had to be together.

empty tomb

He is risen indeed!

It reminds me that Jesus desires the same sort of relationship with me and with each one of us. But I find myself not as quick to respond as the disciples did. I moan a little when I wake up on some Sundays before heading to church. I hesitate to pray before a meal or at bedtime, because I feel uncomfortable about engaging in the activity.

But worship and prayer should be something that come naturally to us as Christians. They should be things that we crave and that we are eager to involve ourselves in. Why? Because they give us more personal time with our best Friend, Jesus. They help us to grow closer to him, to build a stronger relationship with our Lord who only wants to be with us and love us. Continue reading →