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Baptism on the Ninth Hole

After pastoring a church in California for eleven years, my wife and I sensed God's call to a congregation near Chicago. As our family prepared to move, we were showered with wonderful gifts: a painting by Thomas Kinkaide, a crystal vase, and a French Psalter from the 1600s to add to my prized collection of hymnbooks.

But the most meaningful gift arrived just a few days before I moved--an invitation to play golf with my friend Marty. Seven years earlier, after much family coercion, Marty reluctantly agreed to accompany his wife and two daughters to church. Marty had been turned off by institutional religion long before--Sunday mornings were best spent on the golf course.

I met the Koll family in the parking lot after worship had begun. They arrived late, and there I was: hiding among the cars in my Middle Eastern robe. I didn't want to spoil the effect of my first-person sermon by being seen by the congregation prematurely.

Marty's face said it all: Is that the pastor without shoes and in ...

From Issue:Spring 1995: Evangelism
May/June
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