Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

God's peculiar people

More intelligent people than yours truly might pick out a little Heidegger for leisure reading, but I go for things like the thrillers penned by John Sandford. I’ve read them all.

One of the pleasures of Sandford is that he is Minnesota-centric, with most of the crimes he deals with taking place in the Twin Cities or “Greater Minnesota.” In one of his books some of the action took place about a block from where I really live.

Of course another of the pleasures is in thinking along

Stay on your side of the net

“Feedback.” This is a constant aspect of internship. Feedback from supervisor to intern, from intern to supervisor, from lay committee to intern, from intern to lay committee. Sometimes, unfortunately, feedback leads to hard feelings. Sometimes, even more unfortunately, the fear of hard feelings leads people to withhold important feedback. 

In a recent “Corner Office” column from the Sunday New York Times business section, Adam Bryant interviewed Andrew Thompson, the

Is my call important to you?

I had some business to transact with a large corporation and, reverting to my dinosaur ways, chose to do it by telephone rather than on-line.  While I had dealt with this business for several years, I had never created an electronic relationship with them, and doing so at this time—when I was dropping their service—seemed like more trouble than it was worth. So I called.

You know the drill. “Please listen carefully, for the options have changed.” So I listened. And pushed

Appreciate the moment!

Funny how things sometimes flow together.

There I was at my desk. I had just read a review of a local performance of one of the great old classic plays of the American theater, Our Town by Thornton Wilder. The dramatic nexus of that play comes when Emily Webb, dead far too soon after her marriage, is given the chance to return to earth to relive one day of the life now ended. She chooses her 12th birthday, but is quickly frustrated by her inability to break through the routine-ness of everyday life

On finding your way

Our vacation on the Maine coast was coming to an end, and we were planning our trip back to the Manchester, N.H., airport. After gorging ourselves for a few days on seafood we were ready for something different and settled on Friendly's, a chain of ice cream and sandwich shops that was a favorite of ours when we lived in that part of the country. I looked up Friendly's in the phone book, found one in Portsmouth, N.H., and plugged the address into the GPS.

Sure enough, the GPS ("Garmanda," we call her)

When is internship over?

You in the back row…when is internship over?

    When you give your last sermon in the internship congregation.

Wrong. Over by the windows, what do you think?

    When the congregation has its farewell party.

Sorry. You in the front, sticking your hand up and jumping up and down.

    When you move back to campus.

Wrong. Anybody else want to try?

I didn’t think so. Here is the correct answer. Internship is over when all of your evaluation forms have

Stars and Stripes Forever

On the 4th of July I put on the white golf shirt with the American flags and blue stars on it my family bought for me a few years ago when I was riding on a float in a parade on the big day. I’ve had memorable moments in that shirt. Riding in the parade was a unique experience. Another year I was in a sour mood because I had to travel on business on the 4th of July but I put the shirt on anyway. My mood brightened as the flight attendants and car rental agents and toll takers I met that day

On watching the royal wedding

I am always an early riser, but my wife, normally a more sensible, temperate soul, climbed out of bed on April 29 at what was a very early hour for her (though I am routinely kicking around at that time) and planted herself in place to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot.  I had no choice but to join her.

Well, to put it in “Upper Midwestern,” it wasn’t that bad.  Nice wedding, nicely done.  Dignified.  Neat.  Traditional.  No sixteen

So what do pastors do?

When our children were young they all enjoyed one of those delightfully intricate Richard Scarry books, What Do People Do All Day? This book introduced them to the great spectrum of work done inside and outside the home every day. My grandchildren are about ready for it now.

I sometimes think that the first question to be answered on internship is, "What do pastors do all day?" The average person might be a faithful participant in the life of a congregation,

Preparing "the final paragraph"

It seems like you just got finished with the mid-year evaluation (that is finished and submitted, isn't it?), and now Easter is at hand and then the program year begins winding down and the end of an internship is in sight. As the last few weeks or months of internship approach, all of you interns, supervisors, and lay committee members will turn your attention to the final—and most important—evaluation.

Similar to the other evaluations, the final internship