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How much do you change to fit a peculiar people?

The Reverend Doctor R. Thomas Martin knew he was out of place as soon as he arrived as pastor of California's Corona Del Sol Community Church.

The large cross crafted from the shattered surfboards of hapless former pastors gave him his first clue. The liturgical break-dance group practicing in the sanctuary confirmed his dark suspicion. The pastor nominating committee had not told him the whole truth.

Corona Del Sol and R. Thomas Martin are mythical, but pastors out of their element are very real. The life of a square peg in a round hole can be painful-for the peg as well as the hole. I've been in that situation to a degree, and over the years I've talked with other pastors who find their distinctive corners jammed against the church's contours.

The Square-peg Experience

"Square pegness" can take a variety of forms. One of the most common is a difference in life experience.

Susan Baker, a Presbyterian pastor, grew up in a large church in suburban California. She attended college in California ...

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