Pastor Note #54 — The Church, Its Reason for Existing, and Its Stuff

            There is a church of my acquaintance that, a few years ago, faced a challenging problem.  The story I’m going to tell you about that church might sound to you like a fable that I’ve made up in order to teach some lesson.  But the church is a real … Continue reading

Pastor Note #52 — Ministry Q. & A. — 3/18/2013

As with most organizations, the church tends to follow the 80/20 rule.  How should a pastor encourage others to get involved in church activities?  Accept leadership positions?  Participate in Sunday Worship?  Is this even a pastor’s responsibility? Bluntly put, there is nothing that a pastor, as a human being, can do to accomplish what is … Continue reading

Pastor Note #44 — Coffee Mugs and Robust Coffee, Churches and the Powerful Presence of Jesus

There are several steady coffee mugs in my life.  In our kitchen cabinets at home, we have quite a stable of coffee mugs.  Coffee mugs seem to just accumulate over time.  Recently, we cleared some of them out because we were running out of room on the shelves.  I’m willing to drink coffee out of … Continue reading

Pastor Note #43 — Blood on the Pew (A day in March 2000)

It was Tuesday noontime.  I had gone into the big, dark Romanesque sanctuary of my church in downtown Columbus, Ohio for a weekly prayer meeting with a handful or so of people, mostly not members of my congregation but rather folks who worked downtown and constituted part of my weekday ancillary congregation. As I sat … Continue reading

Pastor Note #31 — “Does God Ever Say, ‘Ooops!’?”

    The church of Jesus Christ does not mark time in years but in generations, in centuries.  One year in the eyes of God is but a fleeting moment.  That kind of long timeframe is not natural for human beings.  Few of us ever experience life over even one century, much less centuries.             This … Continue reading


“Believing and Belonging – Belonging and Believing”  Those terms are often used to name two elements – the two elements? – that are involved when a person becomes part of the community of God’s people. What we might mean by “believing” is probably pretty simple and straightforward.  But maybe not quite so simple and straightforward … Continue reading

Pastor Notes #11

[From my journal while pastoring a church in downtown Columbus:] It was a sad and difficult situation.  We have a locked wooden box bolted to the back wall of the church.  It has a slot in the top for receiving gifts that visitors (and members) might drop into it for the maintenance of our old … Continue reading

Pastor Notes #9

[The following is a letter I wrote to a forty-something parishioner who had been raised in a nominal Roman Catholic home and had given her life to Christ while she was in college.  This letter was written on the occasion of her nominally Catholic mother’s death.  As you will also see, the circumstances of my … Continue reading

Pastor Notes #8 (9/11/2001) — Presence as Ministry

[The following is from several entries into my journal about the events of the evening of September 11, 2001.  I was at that time the pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in the heart of downtown Columbus, Ohio.  There are several large, high-end hotels in the immediate vicinity of the church.] Tuesday, September 11, 2001 7:30 … Continue reading

Pastor Notes #7

[From a pastor’s notebook; the names and places have been changed to protect identities.] He is in the ICU at the local hospital.  His heart is failing.  He has a pacemaker, but it is not much help since the muscles of his heart are very weak.  Why?  I don’t know. Before I went up to … Continue reading