The Pastor’s Perspective

A Vision for PUMC

A church member called a pastor and asked for a meeting. When the meeting took place, the pastor was surprised to learn that the member wanted to donate a sum to the church, but first the member wanted to hear the pastor’s vision for the church. The pastor stumbled and bumbled his way through his answer and finally blurted out that he wanted to make disciples.

“But how?” the parishioner responded. “What are we doing here that’s different from the church down the road?”

Some time later, the parishioner called a local college and asked to speak with the president. When the parishioner asked the college president for his vision for the school, the president unrolled a blueprint of a performing arts center and explained how the arts center would transform the lives not just of the students but also that of the surrounding community, which could be culturally enriched through the plays and musical performances.

Predictably, the money went to the college.

On Nov. 4, we will hold Commitment Sunday, where we ask members to make a financial pledge for the coming year. My vision for our church isn’t some arcane platitude about making disciples. Rather, it’s the concrete knowledge that what has been put together here over many years are a series of ministries that are transforming lives. When you pledge to PUMC, you are investing in the future of our faith!

Most churches do some mission work and reach out to their communities. But very few offer mission camps that draw young people from hundreds of miles away, then provide life-altering experiences for them. Credit Joe and Susie Pokorny for shepherding this program for more than a decade.

Wyatt Robinson, who grew up here and recently took a job as a youth director at a Florida church, said he first felt his call to ministry through our mission camps. “God is reaching many young people, who are critical to the future of our church, each summer and calling many more into the service of God’s Kingdom through these mission camps.”

Sydney Hopps, now a student at the University of Missouri, worked last August at a children’s hospital in South Africa. Here is what she had to say about our mission camps: “Your Obedient Servant Mission Camp, in my own little hometown, set me on fire for Jesus and kick-started a lifestyle of love for God’s people and a drive to serve the ones around me.”

Tools for Christians!

Several years ago, a church where I was serving formed a building team that undertook projects around town for the less fortunate. We did a lot of roof work, drywalling, ramps, fences, and so on. One time, we were doing a roof tear-off and replacement, and a long discussion ensued on nailers, air hose lengths, and the compressors needed for the job. I finally turned to one of the project leaders and suggested that we just use hammers for the job. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about all of this other equipment. Suddenly, the room grew quiet. Then there was a nervous laugh. Finally, everybody began to laugh. They thought I was kidding! They couldn’t conceive of using a hammer when faster, better tools were available.

That lesson stuck with me: Use the best tools available for the job. If you don’t, the job is harder!

As Christians, our most important tool is God’s Word. Yet, we often use archaic tools to get the job done. Many of us are still packing a hard-to-read King James translation of the Bible or a Bible without any notes. The King James Version is a beautiful translation but it is 400 years old!

Better tools are available today! Get yourself a contemporary translation like the NIV, the NRSV, or the Common English Bible, and make sure it is a study Bible with explanatory notes so that you can better understand meaning and context. If you have questions, see me. Getting a study Bible years ago as a gift made a huge difference in my understanding of the text.

One of my favorite Bibles is called “The Quest” Bible. What differentiates it is that it doesn’t have notes. What it does have is questions and answers on the side. Nearly every question you can think of is answered. I’ve used it myself, given it as a gift many times, and also used it when we did college ministry.

An argument can be made that we don’t need print Bibles any more because of the availability of Bibles apps for smart phones, which often provide the scriptures in a variety of different translations, though usually without explanatory notes. I like to underline stuff and write notes in the margins, but having an app on your cell phone means that you never have to go anywhere without God’s Word. One app that I have used and recommend is biblegateway, and it offers dozens of different Bible translations. It’s also a website, so go to It’s free, and it has audio so that you can listen to the incomparable Max McLean and many others read the Bible wherever you go!

Thanks for the Warm Welcome!

Cindy and I just wanted to thank you for all that you have done for us since (and before) our arrival. You have done a great deal of work at the parsonage, including a fresh coat of paint, new flooring, and several new appliances. On top of that, we received many gifts when we arrived: all sorts of food, including vegetable and meat trays, cookies, pies, fruit, and gift cards. the current world. You have invited us into your homes and into your lives. May God watch over us as we move forward in Christ!

Pastor Rick & Cindy