Talking to Strangers: Scene in a Bar

I was drinking a beer. That was her first clue that I wasn’t a real Christian.When she asked me what I did and I mentioned that I was a pastor, I’m guessing that sealed the deal.So when she asked me to tell her about my church, I could have quoted our denomination’s identity statement, keeping it light and generic. Or I could have told her about youth group and women’s ministries and mission work in El Salvador. But I figured I was already batting zero—drinking a beer AND being a lady min … [Read more...]

Cloud By Day: Living With Ambiguity and Measuring Ministry

In every generation, people of faith journey across the hazy plains of “What does this mean,” and “why are we here?” Right about the time one band of believers establishes a clear sense of purpose and identity for their time and place…well, they die. It is time for them to step aside and let the kids figure out what’s next, with nothing but "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night" to guide them. And is that ever a painful hand-off, every single time.We can wax poetic and … [Read more...]

Good Call: 10 Ways to Nail that Pastoral Search Interview

It's that time again. All over the country, exhausted pastoral search committees plow through another pile of profiles, fumble with the technology for another round of Skype interviews, and miss another week of family dinner times to make a series of reference-check phone calls. Meanwhile, pastors sit anxiously by the phone, like they are waiting for the daggone quarterback to call on a Friday night, just hoping for that next small sign of hope: "we are moving ahead in our selection process, and … [Read more...]

Holy Week Survival Guide: 10 Life Hacks for Clergy

Deep breath. Inward Ommmmmmmmmmmm. It is Holy Week! Lace up your sprinting shoes, get ready to stress eat and drink way too much coffee, and tell your family that you will see them next Monday. No wait—Monday, you hibernate. Tuesday, for sure!  You will be down for breakfast on Tuesday. Or at least lunch… Something about that pattern seems not-so-holy, though. Sure, it’s going to be busy. You will need caffeine and adrenaline and the Holy Spirit to power through. And yet… we clergy types often w … [Read more...]

Talking to Strangers

It was Sunday morning. I stopped at my favorite, may or may not have chosen my new house based on proximity to this place, donut joint to buy a couple dozen for our new member class. (I win souls for the Lord with vanilla glazed and pumpkin spice varieties).It was early. Still dark out. There was one other person in the place, and I mean, she looked normal enough… She was being pretty chatty with the register girl, so I jumped into the conversation. Because hey, it’s Sunday morning, there’s a … [Read more...]

How to Do It All

Sometimes other clergy ask for advice on how to balance being a pastor and a parent. So here, I’m going to give you 10 never-fail secrets to getting it all right at church and at home, keeping up your self-care and personal appearance, while having a smile on your face at all times.Lol, people. L.O.L.The truth is, there is no such list, and if anybody tells you they have one, they’re a lying *#%&^$#@!. When people ask how I do it, I answer, “sometimes, not very well.” And that’s the d … [Read more...]

Mapping the Message: A Choose Your Own Adventure Tale for Preachers

When I write about pastoral life, I try to make it interesting and/or useful to readers who aren’t clergy. There is almost always a spiritual or practical truth that applies to a broader audience.That said—if you are not a vocational minister, the following might literally bore you TO DEATH, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. Read on if you wish. But I won’t be offended if you go cruise another blog and come back here tomorrow (or the next day).Meantime-- I’m going to share some … [Read more...]

Showing Up

I never know what to say when someone thanks me for making a hospital or home visit. A simple 'you're welcome' will sometimes suffice. But at other times, people more than thank me. They say 'I know you're busy,' and “I hate that you had to go to this trouble;’ 'this is so important to my family,' and maybe even 'you're so wonderful to come.''You're welcome' doesn't quite seem to cut it.It almost feels like they're thanking me for breathing. For enjoying a great dessert, for taking a wal … [Read more...]

As Often As You Do This…

Clergy burn-out rates are at an all-time high. All sorts of seminaries and foundations are devoting studies to the topic, trying to learn why the life of ministry seems to be growing less and less sustainable.I'm grateful that these studies exist, though i don't think there's an easy answer--or one that applies in every situation. I think that each pastor's personality contributes to how they approach ministry; and each congregation's personality contributes to how they treat their pastor. So … [Read more...]


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