Monday, June 15, 2015

John Ortberg

I interned at a large church with a "celebrity" pastor, Chuck Swindoll. As a best-selling author and radio preacher, people would visit the church just to see Chuck. The office would get phone calls from people asking, "Who's preaching this week?" This would bother Chuck, who felt people should come to church for God and not for him. It bothered him even more when people referred to "Chuck Swindoll's church." "It's God's church," he'd say.

Which makes it rather embarrassing to admit we chose this week's church because it was "John Ortberg's church."

Some of the best small group studies we had at Healdsburg Community Church (the church Mindy and I attended before we began this adventure) used books by John Ortberg. Often, among the materials provided were DVDs of Ortberg introducing the chapters to be discussed. His gifts as a pastor and a writer combined made for a profitable learning experience.

Ortberg served previously as a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, an early "seeker friendly" mega churches. Mindy and I visited that church shortly before Ortberg made the move out to California. We heard from someone at Menlo Park Presbyterian that  he chose to serve there partly because Menlo Park allows him to to write as well as pastor.

His books have sold millions of copies and won a variety of awards. I'd recommend (in order of preference, starting with my favorite): If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, and The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You.

Ortberg received his Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary as well as a Doctorate in clinical psychology. His understanding of God's Word and people provides him with a unique ministry as a writer and as a pastor.
-- Dean