Small churches aren’t just smaller versions of big churches. They have unique gifts, challenges and methods of operation.

But not everyone realizes that fact. Including some small church pastors.

This often leads to frustration when we go to ministerial conferences or read pastoral books.

Why does the writer say that not this?

My guess is because he is speaking about a fact and not his own thought.

Or because the writer refers to something mentioned before not something he is speaking about. I am not sure.

And why he use this not that in the following paragraph ?

Thank you

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    I think the this could be changed to a that or vice versa and the passage would still make sense. It's somewhat arbitrary. – J.R. Apr 11 '17 at 20:00

This and that are deictic, expressing the speaker's sense of nearness to or distance from the thing being "pointed at". The distance can be literal physical distance or "mental distance".

When a speaker says "this", he is near the thing, and if it is not a thing but an idea, it can be as though he were proffering the idea for consideration. The nature of the "mental closeness" can vary. It may be an idea currently under consideration and being debated at this moment, and the nearness may be no more than the fact that the speaker is taking part in the discussion:

This idea is a good one.

This idea is a bad one.

When a speaker says "that", he is some distance from the thing (e.g. "that thing over there"), and if it is not a thing but an idea, the speaker is referring to the idea.

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  • 1
    I wouldn't mind betting that if we could analyse all the times a chairman of a meeting has ever guillotined debate by saying this/that idea is a good/bad one, we'd find this + good and that + bad occurred far more often that this + bad and that + good. One always likes to distance oneself from bad things. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 11 '17 at 23:52
  • Thank TRomano, it is much clear now. But let me ask you plz after we have understood that the writer is mentally distance when using that. What does the writer mentally distance from ? From the fact? Does that mean that he is not going to discuss the fact or delve into its details ? Or does he simply think it is not his idea ? – Gamal Thomas Apr 12 '17 at 17:27
  • @Gamal Thomas: The "mental distance" expressed by that might be no more than a reference to the idea as one mentioned earlier or brought up earlier in some other way. To say that idea or simply that is not necessarily a distancing of oneself from the idea or a rejection of it, as one might wrongly infer from the comment by FumbleFingers above. One could easily say "That's the place for me!" after hearing a destination proposal for a trip, and then after one has arrived there: "I love this place. This is the place for me!" The same is true with an idea. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 12 '17 at 18:23
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo, thank you, I can guess now that the speaker was saying "that fact" to mean that fact that everyone forget about or not realize = "mental far distance" But he says "This often leads.." because he was speaking about his own idea now between his own hands and he needs everyone to involve and discuss, it is something NEAR everyone. ... Am I right here? – Gamal Thomas Dec 4 '17 at 7:58

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