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  • Tim Blodgett

Frozen Churches


What brings you joy? What excites you so much that you want to run and tell others? About what are you passionate?


I have always disliked the moniker “frozen chosen.” Whether we use the phrase in jest, as a term of endearment, or derision, it speaks too succinctly of an entire life of faith. It says too little of what we would likely witness across the entire denomination. The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), told commissioners at the 225th General Assembly (2022) “he would like to see the PC(USA) get rid of the term “frozen chosen.” “We’re not frozen, and we’re not chosen,” he said. “That’s not a statement of theology, but we’re not chosen in the sense that we’re not greater than anyone else.” Instead, he asked, “What abilities do we have for the gospel to live inside of people? To give the possibilities to shape and form their world.”[1]

I tend to agree. The greatest evangelists I encounter today are usually outside of the church. They are the passionate purveyors of some new product, lifestyle, or trend. They can enthusiastically share the greatness of their cause, lovingly speak of the life-changing nature of their creation, and call for you to make a similar conversion. Tulsa is home to Hasty Bake Charcoal Grills. Since Grant Hasting designed the first grill in 1948, Hasty Bake has had a cult following in Tulsa and around the globe. On a recent episode of the Smoke Bake Sear Podcast, you would think that Adam Myers (Owner of BurnCo Barbeque) was describing a new church instead of a grill: the dedication, happiness, and desire to share his lifestyle was so great. He spoke of brochures and cooking demonstrations the way that somebody in the church might describe a terrific sermon or a truly excellent small group gathering.

I do get to point at this dynamic – “Chosen Frozen” vs. energetic evangelist - in my role. As I meet with pastors, sessions, and churches, I ask “What gives you energy in ministry? What takes energy away?” The grind of church life, the unrelenting repetition of Sundays, committees, and seasons, comes up. The strain of doing so much and being spread so thin as church membership declines is said. Do not get me wrong. We love the church, but there is a world of difference between loving a thing and sharing that infectious love with somebody else. There is a difference between religiously attending church on Sunday and spreading the good news in word and deed the other days of the week. It is the difference between the static and the transformative.

The hope in acknowledging this dynamic in the church setting or more broadly here is that we might begin to change. There is a lot driving people away from the church today. “Frozen” churches are a significant contributor. Perhaps the reason evangelism is treated as the third rail of Presbyterianism is precisely because our frozen churches do not have a gospel hope worthy of evangelism. What is so joyful in our faith and churches that we are compelled to share it? What is so transformational that it moves us to transform the world? The gospel is that 100%, but is our life of faith?


Blessings, Rev. Tim Blodgett


[1] Seebeck, P. (2022, June 18). 'We are not frozen, and we're not chosen'. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - 'We are not frozen, and we're not chosen'. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.pcusa.org/news/2022/6/18/we-are-not-frozen-were-chosen/

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