You may have heard the phrase. But do you know that it originally came from a 19th-century pastor who worked hard to understand his parishoners’ life at work and penned best-selling novel In His Steps, Charles Sheldon? John Knapp has some more to say on the subject in a post reprinted at “Grateful to the Dead“:
Topeka, Kansas, was in a severe economic recession when Sheldon arrived in 1889 to pastor the Central Congregational Church. To make his ministry relevant to the everyday needs of his parishioners and community, he asked his church for permission to devote twelve weeks to what he called “practical sociological studies,” suspending most of his regular duties except for preaching on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. A remarkable adventure ensued, taking him into every part of town to learn how others lived and worked.