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THE PASTOR AS LIGHTNING ROD

In a turbulent church climate, pastors can be zapped when they least expect it.

Nature produces few displays of power as dramatic as a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm. A clear and beautiful day can quickly turn threatening as unstable air masses begin to rise to greater altitudes and produce thundershowers or hailstorms. As the storm gathers overhead, the giant thunderclaps sound like dynamite charges going off in the attic.

In Steamboat Springs, the small mountain resort where I live, the highest buildings have atop them a series of lightning rods. One such building is the Thunderhead Lodge, atop Mount Werner. The lodge serves as the upper terminal for the famed high-speed, eight-passenger Silver Bullet Gondola.

As I paced the parking lot outside the condominiums at the base of Mount Werner on August 11, 1986, I was sure I wouldn't see the completion of the gondola, which was being installed over the summer. But that wasn't the only thing I didn't expect to see completed. Following just twenty-one months here, I had resigned my church and was planning to leave the ministry. ...

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