Pastor’s Blog

  • What’s a Deacon?

    What’s a Deacon?

    Earlier this week, SPRC announced that Julie Popplewell will be concluding her ministry as Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry (CYFM)with UMCG this summer and that with the additional departure of Pastor Lisa this summer, we are creating a staff position – preferably utilizing a United Methodist Deacon – a seminary-trained and ordained pastor with a demonstrated ability to connect the community and the church through outreach. An appropriate question to this news could be something like: “I thought we couldn’t afford two pastors as a church, nor are we large enough to need two pastors, so how is it that we are searchingRead More →

  • How’d we do?

    How’d we do?

    Last month, as we concluded the preaching series on our recently identified core values, I conducted an informal assessment of where those in church that day felt we measured up. Roughly half in worship that day responded to the 1-5 rating and as you can see above, we think highly of ourselves. Anecdotally, I’d probably agree. In fact, this past week I was conversing with someone who recently started attending UMCG for worship and their comment was, “I just can’t get over how welcome people here have made me feel as soon as I enter the door.Read More →

  • “I have called you by name; you are mine.”

    “I have called you by name; you are mine.”

    To know and call someone by their name conveys respect and intimacy. To be known is a deep desire of the human heart. I learned the holy significance of names my second Sunday in ministry. It was October 2004; I had just started as a Youth Pastor at a start-up church. I was hired to create a High School Youth Group out of thin air. That first Sunday, everyone, except for the hiring team, I was meeting for the first time . . .Read More →

  • A.I. robots helped write this post about Lent

    A.I. robots helped write this post about Lent

    I was already curious about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used to generate the content I’ve been trained to prayerfully produce when a link to an article came across the group chat of my Covenant Group. It was from the New York Post, “ChatGPT AI robots writing church sermons causing hell for pastors.”  The article chronicles how a variety of clergy from a variety of traditions have been using artificial intelligence to write sermons, blog content, even Bible studies. If you read the article, you’ll see that some think AI does a decent job creating the content but lacks a certain Holy Spirit/contextual/human element… but AI is getting better the more it learns how to imitate the elements it’s lacking.  Read More →

  • 5,000 miles in >10 years & still going…

    5,000 miles in >10 years & still going…

    A little over ten years ago, when I was the Associate Pastor here, I came down with a case of adult-onset athleticism.   What is adult-onset athleticism, you might ask? I learned it is what happens to adults who didn’t experience or enjoy athleticism in childhood or young adulthood and discover they like it in adulthood. That’s what happened to me. I joined the Delnor health club and worked out there nearly every day, until life became so chaotic that I couldn’t get there. I needed an option that was available before 5am or open after 10pm. So, I decided to go for a run inRead More →

  • Moving Forward in a Liminal Season

    Moving Forward in a Liminal Season

    We talked a lot last year about the church being in a liminal season. The word Liminal comes from the Latin word Limen, which means threshold, like the threshold at the bottom of a door. We all agreed that we, as a church, were in a liminal season. Read More →

  • Ain’t I a Christian?

    Ain’t I a Christian?

    Pastor Rob’s blog on January 27th was about how some people are splitting off from our United Methodist denomination to form a new one.  Given some of the tactics I have experienced from those departing, I remembered one of the most hurtful things anyone ever said to me.  It came from a Facebook “friend,” with whom I grew up.  She left our home church in her late teens and has been in a fundamentalist Christian group for about fifty years.  She believes herself and her church to be right in their views about Jesus and the Bible.  Since mine aren’t the same as hers sheRead More →

  • We Are Never Getting Back Together Again

    We Are Never Getting Back Together Again

    Taylor Swift’s leading single from her 2012 album RED is about an ex-boyfriend wanting to get back together (again) and the empowered response from Swift is the song title, “We are never ever getting back together again.”  It is probably no surprise that in the song Swift learned her lesson after trying over and over with the guy and she is now clear; there is no future togetherRead More →

  • Living Our New Mission Statement

    Living Our New Mission Statement

    UMCG has proclaimed our mission to be that “We illuminate our community with God’s grace as we lovingly accept, listen to, and serve all in the Spirit of Jesus.” How can we live into this? I feel we must not neglect the internal work necessary to help clarify our path to spread God’s grace to our community while we welcome opportunities to listen respectfully to one another, accept others into our hearts and homes, and discern the others’ needs and meet them where they are. Read More →

  • Who We Are Called To Be in 2023

    Who We Are Called To Be in 2023

    It was about this time last year that Ministry Architects did a church-wide assessment – a diagnostic of the challenges facing our church. That report led to an initiative to make changes that have stopped the decline of our church and has even started to show elements of new life and growth!Read More →



    Today, January 6th is the twelfth day of Christmas and the celebration of the Epiphany. Epiphany, from Greek epiphaneia, means ‘manifestation.’ It is the holiday that commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the visit of the Magi or three kings who followed the star to Bethlehem. Matthew’s gospel records the story in Chapter Two. I recently was thinking about these wisemen. I wonder if what they saw in the stars has far more resonance internally than externally? Read More →

  • Looking Forward to 2023

    Looking Forward to 2023

    . . . .As senior pastor, I want the church to have a solid understanding of what it means to be a United Methodist Christian by growing in the Wesleyan method of interpreting scripture and improving our knowledge of UM history, theology, and polity so that we can navigate 2024 as faithful United Methodist Christians. With 2024 being an election year and the next meeting of the General Conference that will likely finalize the denominational fracture that is already underway, it seemed best to prepare us to live faithfully no matter what happens.Read More →

  • The Day is Finally Here!

    The Day is Finally Here!

    After a beautiful Cantata Sunday that retold the story of Christ’s coming and birth by choral and chamber ensemble, we begin our Candlelight Services tonight! The day is finally here!Read More →

  • He Knew Them By Name

    He Knew Them By Name

    For generations, Meghan’s family has traveled to Marshall Fields[1] in December to visit Santa and to dine in the famous Walnut Room. Until the pandemic, our family has continued with this tradition of waiting hours to experience the kind of magic only a retail conglomerate can bring. And for the kids, it really was magic. We would slowly move through the labyrinth of animatronics as we waited our turn to see Santa and when the moment finally arrived, you’d hear Santa’s big, belly laugh as he invited the girls in the room, calling each of them by name.Read More →

  • What Hollywood gets right, and the Church gets wrong

    What Hollywood gets right, and the Church gets wrong

    Last weekend, my family watched Hollywood’s latest spin on Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas Carol – a musical comedy with Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds titled, “Spirited,” which is in theaters and Apple TV+ now. (This blog post is not sponsored by Apple.) Not to spoil anything, but throughout the musical an important question is pressed: “are some people just unredeemable?” The movie begins with Jacob Marley making this ‘unredeemable’ designation for some persons. This can represent external voices speaking into our lives, calling us unredeemable. In the musical, this ‘unredeemable’ designation follows the characters until the external voices are internalized, eventually leading to a songRead More →

  • Elmo’s Christmas Counter-downer

    Elmo’s Christmas Counter-downer

    When Lily was little, we would watch the Sesame Street special “Elmo’s Christmas Countdown” (or as she called it ‘Elmo’s Christmas Counter-downer’) on repeat all winter long, even after Christmas. The star-studded special is fun to watch the first time or two and this 2007 version is better than the similar 1996 “Elmo Saves Christmas.” Read More →

  • Gifts . . . Presents . . . and Presence, oh my! Three wise ways to give God’s love this Christmas . . .

    Gifts . . . Presents . . . and Presence, oh my!  Three wise ways to give God’s love this Christmas . . .

    Each time the holiday season rolls around, I start thinking about gift giving, and what I would like to give to family, friends, and the world for the holidays. There are lots of clever toys, lots of wonderful books, cookies and candy, clothing… I think about what people need, what they might want, and what helps to create better people and more blessing in the world.Read More →

  • How We Care For Each Other

    How We Care For Each Other

    ‘I don’t know how anyone can go through this without a community of faith’ is a statement I often hear as people sit vigil with a dying loved one or are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I agree that having a community to support us in trying and tough times with a spirit of love and hope makes all the difference.Read More →

  • What’s so gracious about hell?

    What’s so gracious about hell?

    As part of the editorial process, I often end up with content that doesn’t make it into my sermons. In both the sermons on heaven and hell one idea that I didn’t really get to explore as much as I would like is how heaven and hell are gifts of God’s grace. Read More →

  • Talking with kids about death

    Talking with kids about death

    I have often found that adults have higher amounts of anxiety about how death impacts children than their children often do (I can’t say the same is true of teens and tweens). Children often pickup on adults’ anxiety and can be confused about death and dying because adults tend to speak so abstractly about death.  Children need us to be direct and share age-appropriate, concrete information about death.Read More →

  • Near Death Experiences

    Near Death Experiences

    In college, I had a class called ‘Death and Dying’. I took the course not out of some morbid curiosity, but out of what I assumed to be occupational necessity (at least that is what my advisor recommended). Turns out I (and my advisor) was right. I don’t have the exact count, but I’ve sat with more dying persons than I have candidates for baptisms or couples to be married – combined. One of the common pastoral concerns that comes up near one’s time of death is an assurance that our promises of faith are true. How can I be sure I will go toRead More →

  • Pastor Rob’s Famous and Delicious Veggie Chili Recipe

    Pastor Rob’s Famous and Delicious Veggie Chili Recipe

    . . . So here is my chili recipe. There is no theological lesson or deep spiritual meaning behind the ingredients. I’m just sharing a favorite fall/winter recipe that I’ve adapted from the website Simply Quinoa. Don’t get me wrong, chili can be serious business and cause heart burn, but not as serious as matters of life and death. This chili recipe does not require serious cooking skills, nor does it give me heartburn. Read More →

  • I can’t believe I haven’t told you about ice fishing yet!

    I can’t believe I haven’t told you about ice fishing yet!

    I’ve only been ice fishing twice. Once in February 2007 and then again in 2008. I’m not sure it even counts as ice fishing if during the entirety of those two trips I only caught one, tiny little fish!  I’m not a fisherman. I wasn’t even trying to be a fisherman those two winters.Read More →

  • Here is what is coming up next!

    Here is what is coming up next!

    As you read last week, I wrapped up my 2023 planning retreat in the southern Rockies and I came home with a solid plan for preaching and teaching for all next year — and found refreshment along the way. Thank you for your prayerful support. I look forward to sharing that plan with y’all as soon as the staff have had a chance to help me refine it.Read More →

  • And He Went Up The Mountain To Pray

    And He Went Up The Mountain To Pray

    Jesus often went up to the mountain to pray – Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, John 6:15. As this is being published, I am wrapping up my time in the Wet Mountains of southern Colorado filled with prayer and planning for preaching, teaching and worship for 2023. I’ll be flying home late tonight.  The picture is a view from off-the-grid cabin I stayed at with my best friend, who is also a UM Pastor. I have felt your prayers for and during this retreat. Thank you!Read More →

  • What a great weekend!

    What a great weekend!

    n my hot summer recap video from a few weeks ago, I spoke about how I thought we would look back upon the summer of 2022 ten years from now and realize that’s when God started turning things around for UMCG. After this weekend, I feel that way even more.Read More →

  • Moving Forward Summit TODAY!

    Moving Forward Summit TODAY!

    The Moving Forward Summit launches today from 6-9pm in Fellowship Hall. It’s not too late to participate. As you’ve heard, everyone is invited to the Friday evening event. Read More →

  • UMCG #HotSummerRecap

    What happens when there is 30% growth from year to year and a 20 year decline starts to reverse? We declare a hot summer! Pastor Rob is excited to share with the UMCG family some exciting data and trends at UMCG and how we can keep up with the Holy Spirit moving our church forward. Read More →

  • Make Sure You Talk About This at My Funeral

    Make Sure You Talk About This at My Funeral

    As we buckled up in our driveway to depart, I turned to the backseat and said with a humor that only makes sense in a household that works regularly with death and dying, “make sure you get a story out of this trip to tell at my funeral!” Read More →