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As pastor of a small independent Christian congregation, Eric Nordin fears what more members could mean for the intimacy that has been a hallmark of All God's Children Church since he started worship in his living room in 1997.
The congregation now draws about 60 people and meets in its Red Lion-area sanctuary, but Nordin worries if Sunday services grow much larger, he may be hard-pressed to find time to sit down at dinner with members in their homes and respond to calls in the middle of the night. And that would frustrate him.
"People will say to me, 'You're not just my pastor; you're my best friend,' " said Nordin, a reformed outlaw biker. "People tell me all the time they love this church because they don't feel like a number. I don't want to lose the special feeling of closeness that you have in a small church."
If small churches have often felt at a disadvantage to larger churches, there...