Rustlings (February 29, 2016)

I have as many pastoral counseling conversations in the coffee shop as I have in my office. I’ve had significant faith conversations in grocery store aisles, airplanes, hospital rooms and while running the roads with fellow athletes. I’ve helped persons struggle with deep faith questions on the bleachers of church league basketball games and at the poker table.

Years ago, I was consulting with a church in a small Indiana town. They were concerned they had drawn no new members into their congregation. They were wrangling over what new programs to start at their church: Bible studies, parenting workshops, alternative worship experiences, youth lockin’s and well, you could probably recite the usual list. They looked at me in frustration and asked, “What do you think we should do?” I paused and then asked them, “Where do the people in this town like to hang out?” They rolled their eyes and responded in a frustrated voice, “The pool hall down the street.” “Well,” I said, “My suggestion is that you learn to shoot pool.”

I’ve always felt as comfortable in the world as I do in the church. I delight in the sacred symbols of our Sanctuary, but the smoky backrooms of life have never bothered me. (Well, the smoke actually makes my eyes red, my throat raw and my nose itchy… but you get the point.) I’ve always felt Jesus lived this way – in love with his Father’s house but committed to being in and with his Father’s world… wherever they might gather. This is one of the reasons I love Operation Inasmuch. The church doesn’t wait for the world to come to us… we intentionally go into the world. We plant flowers, mop gym floors, paint walls and get to know some of God’s other children in this world. I hope you’ll sign up to be part of this ministry event. It’s easy. Just grab your computer and go to And I’ll see you in the garden, at the gym, at someone’s home…or who knows… maybe at the pool hall….

— Jim