The pastorate at Temple was a formidable
challenge when we arrived in 1960. There were the core responsibilities
of the pulpit, office, boardroom, prayer room, classroom, hospital room and
counseling room. Beyond these obvious responsibilities, several needs
led to early priorities:
Temple was founded by Baptist immigrants
from Sweden who held strong biblical convictions, established traditional
values and engrained moral standards. Their work ethic was first to
survive and then to succeed. Their faith comprised virtually the
whole of their world view. They were thoroughly committed to the Lord's
work, serving and governing according to the disciplines of their spiritual
grounding. As immigration waned however, it became obvious to those of
all backgrounds in the church that change would be inevitable and that
there could be no turning back.
The transition from ethnicity to diversity
in the church was well under way by the time our pastorate commenced.
When I continued to advance diversity in the church's ministry on the one
hand, and the factor of my having been born a Swede on the other, there
evolved a sense of mutual trust that the Lord apparently used to bridge
whatever gap remained between those who could use the "Language of
Heaven" and those who could not.
Ironically, I was among the "have nots"
where language was concerned. The cohesion proceeded with surprising
tolerance and grace. It should be noted that many churches of various
denominations did not survive where a predominant ethnic custom and
language prevailed. God was good to Temple and it was our joy as a
church family to move ahead to the fruitful years that were in store.
• The Inclusive Approach
Our primary focus was to reach the heads of
homes and hence, their families. This did not result in an immediate
explosion in numbers but growth proved to be solid and continuous through the
years. The reaching of adults and their families was accomplished
through a program that cultivated genuine and lasting friendships. Our
exposure and opportunity increased dramatically with the church located
across the street from the new and largest shopping complex in the region, the
In evaluating this exciting challenge for Temple's
future, I decided to attend a popular church growth seminar in
a large, aggressive church in California. I took copious notes but
the Pastor's parting summation gave me considerable pause. He said, "On
the basis of what we have learned here, when you return to your churches,
expect only about 10% of your members to respond. But
don't be discouraged. Work with that 10% and leave the 90% to
themselves in the 'Carnal Corral.'" And the auditorium filled
with laughter over the cute cliché.
As I drove home to Portland up Interstate
Five, I couldn't escape the question, "What about the 90%? I
felt it was irresponsible for anyone to categorize the Christian
Enterprise as consisting of only two classes, either aggressive
activists or carnal pew-warmers. The claim had been made repeatedly that
God would instantly cast out the fear of man from any Christian who
would be willing to flip his or her internal switch from
devoted follower to driven crusader. I found myself uncomfortable
with the rigid and cavalier manner of the rhetoric. I didn't hear the
word "love" mentioned once during the three days. It
was totally out of character for me.
I had gone to the seminar
in the hope of expanding and refining the outreach plan we
had on the drawing board at Temple. Once there, it was obvious that
our basic concept was 180º from theirs. The trip was not in
vain however, for it steeled my resolve to bring our plan to completion as we
had envisioned it. A simple parable can best explain our outreach
concept: could a successful car dealership exist with only
salespersons – no manager, accountant, mechanic, parts or maintenance
employees? It would be out of business, pronto! By the same
token, if all employees of the inner workings had no sales force, the
dealership would also fail. But if they would work together as
a team toward reaching a common goal, voilà! All things being equal, success could
be virtually assured.
• The Biblical Basis
Jesus did not choose his disciples from
among those who were socially a cut above the rest and influential in society.
Note how he often referred to the little guy and plain vanilla
people of his day. He taught–of the poor in spirit (ptõchoi),
lowly and humble–that theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. He said
also that the meek will inherit the earth, and still again, that many
who are first will be last and the last, first ( Matt. 11:29, 5:3, 5:5,
19:30). Think of it. That gives just about everything on earth
and in heaven to the lowly, the meek and the last; a far cry from a
The Apostle Paul was gifted as a
pro-active, fearless antagonist against the polytheism and mythology of
his day. He admonished Timothy as a young pastor not to be timid
or ashamed, but aggressive and outgoing in his faith and witnessing.
On the other hand, to whom did Paul credit Timothy's conversion, but to a
couple of humble housewives, Lois and Eunice, gifted in raising Christian
kids, but with no hint of their being forceful witnesses for Christ.
On other occasions, Paul dismissed the matter of one person as being superior
over another in types of service and ministry. He repudiated those who
became combative over which leader did what, and to whom they
should give credit as the "real" soul-winner, Paul or Apollos (I
Cor. 3:4-11). Again, he used an analogy of the various
parts of the human body, comparing them to the diversity of gifts in
the Body of Christ, each having different functions but all being of
equal value (I Cor. 12:14-27). The Apostle listed varying capabilities
for roles of ministry in the church at Ephasis and commended unity in
diversity once again as the way of accomplishing the task. (Eph.
Epaphroditus, a skin disease? No.
He was a humble messenger from Philippi. Observe the
Apostle's words from prison, most likely in Rome: "I am amply supplied,
now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are
a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. I think
it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother,
fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger,
whom you sent to take care of my needs." Then Paul added, regarding
this obscure man of the Bible, "Welcome him in the Lord with great
joy, and honor men like him."
The above, then, became the basis of
inclusiveness upon which we sought to involve our members in
the program. Diversities in human nature, stations in life and varying
talents were but potentials waiting to be nurtured toward noble ends to
enrich the whole, so anyone in the congregation who was committed to
Christ and the Church, was welcome to participate.
• The Concept In Action
I completed a first draft and presented
it to the Deacons. They were enthused and at my request, appointed a
committee to work with me. Planning continued through the summer
months. We prayed, searched the Scriptures, researched materials, interviewed
a cross-section of the members and correlated the information into a
workable program. It was finalized, approved by the Deacons and
made ready for presentation at the Fall Kick-off Banquet where it was ratified
Members were given an opportunity to
become involved following the presentation. Teams of two were
chosen from the respondents so as to represent various ages and life-styles
compatible with assignments, i.e., youth, adult singles, parents,
families, senior citizens, et cetera. The response was most
gratifying. About forty people signed on. Responses in
following years gave us a continuum of about twenty teams each year.
The results from our interviews clearly
revealed that the majority of volunteers desired to participate on a level in
keeping with their personal attributes. They were very amenable
toward initiating and cultivating friendships but were intimidated at the
thought of eyeball-to-eyeball spiritual confrontation. The rare candor of the
volunteers reinforced the truism that "Not everyone is a born
As we took into consideration the
clarity of the Scriptures referenced above, plus the prevailing
sentiment of the people in the survey, the name chosen for the program
was, "Lifestyle Evangelism." The mission statement
was taken from Eph. 4:12-13, "To prepare God's people for works of
service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity
in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,
attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
The brochure included a visual of the operational
model. It depicted a triangle with two sections based on the analogy
by the Apostle Paul, 1."planter/waterer, 2. reaper", from
harvest field parlance. The triangle's bottom, larger half, planter/waterer, would
be made up of those with limited training or background in
dealing with people regarding spiritual commitment. The top,
smaller half, reaper, would consist of those who were
both well-trained and experienced counselors. Corresponding levels of
training materials had been prepared accordingly.
We made it clear that volunteers
who desired to serve only at the level of planter/waterer were
encouraged to do so. As it turned out, they were to become invaluable as
intermediaries between their new friends and their counterparts on
the reaper level. They also came to realize with joy
that they were preparing the soil for harvest and thus were
fulfilling an important role in that harvest. An unusual confirmation of
the viability of all the above could not have been more striking, nor
could it have happened sooner.
When departing the initial kickoff
banquet, a gentleman of high esteem in the church commended me for the
concept. I thanked him and then asked him to consider being the leader
of a team, including the man who was standing beside him. He
emphatically made it clear, as did the other, that they were not "cut out
for that sort of thing." But something within compelled me to
send him an "easy" assignment, a family man and member of a
Conference Church in Seattle. He and the family had moved to Portland.
They had attended Temple off and on over a few weeks and I had visited them a
I expected a phone call from this team
leader as soon as he had opened the letter. It came! But
after a time of seriously discussing it together, I asked him to
trust me. He said he'd "do it for me, but only this
once." A couple days later, he phoned saying that he and his
partner had arranged to take the gentleman to lunch, and then
followed with, "I've got news for you; you're coming along.
I've reserved for four." I agreed if I could go "Dutch"
and we were on.
The visit revealed common interests, as
I anticipated, and the men bonded within minutes. The time
couldn't have been more appropriate at the close of the hour together, so
I asked our guest: "I realize that you've been searching for a
church home here in Portland. Are you leaning toward a decision
yet? He replied, "It's interesting that you ask. My wife and
I decided just last Thursday that it was going to be Temple."
Our two men, usually measured in their
responses, were visibly overjoyed. That visit led to a solid family
at Temple, including a romance, and lay leadership at both the
Church and the Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes. Our team
leader thanked me for sending him the assignment. He also came to
me in the foyer one Sunday a couple of months after he had completed a
second assignment, thanking me for having sent it. He said that he
and that man had become close friends, "as close as a brother."
He asked if Deloris and I would arrange to
meet with the couple regarding spiritual matters because he felt apprehensive
about broaching the subject himself. We were delighted. It
resulted in the couple making a very moving and sincere commitment
to the Lord. That dear couple are continuing their walk with
the Lord as members of the church to this day.
Years later, I was deeply moved when
attending that team leader's funeral, not only in losing a cherished
friend, but also when I saw the man of his second visit included among his
pallbearers. The "star for someone's crown" just had to
be destined for that team leader. No question. And he, like
many others, was involved on the planter/waterer level, preparing the
soil well, for a harvest of two.
Some participants serving on that level
requested further training to move on to the reaper level.
These dynamics came into play as the program grew and
participants discovered their capabilities. It should also
be noted that we always had an ample number of reaper
teams, well trained, experienced in the Word and counseling, who could assist
the other teams.
Deloris and I had already experienced this
upward mobility in our Duluth Friendship Evangelism program.
One Sunday evening, two husband-and-wife planter/waterer teams
invited two assignment couples for a snack at one of the homes following a
special event at Church. In the course of the conversation, one of
the guests began to ask questions about becoming a Christian. We
had folks at our home also, when the phone rang. The team leader,
cupping his hand over the mouthpiece, whispered, "Pastor we have some
friends here and the discussion has turned to the subject of what
the Bible says about accepting Christ. Can you come?" I told
him I'd be right there.
I excused myself, sighting an urgent call,
and was on my way. I shared the Scriptures with them and after a time of
discussion, closed with prayer. I gave the couples my calling
card and an invitation to phone me if I could be of help. The one couple
accepted the Lord in my Study a few days later. At the close of the following
Sunday Worship, the "whispering" team leader asked if he
and his wife could attend the next reaper training course. The
result? Another planter/waterer team had moved to the
The reaper level at
Temple, as at Bethany, Duluth, included deacons, deaconesses, Deloris, myself,
other pastoral staff and those who had completed the training.
The program worked well because one objective in the progressive assignments
was to encourage growing friendships on both levels. Then,
when the time seemed appropriate, the assignment by the reaper team
could take place in a genuine spirit of commonalty among friends.
Names of prospective people were derived from
member acquaintances, friends from all avenues of daily life.
They were also chosen from visitors' cards of those who had
attended church meetings and functions. Thus, team assignments were never
made without some kind of stepping-stone, springboard or common
ground as an opener. The key was to build relationships whereby we
might earn the confidence of the persons and hopefully, over time, the right
to share the Love of Christ with them.
Personal canvassing and door-to-door
confrontation was not our modus operandi. The reverse directory
mail-outs were more productive as a source for prospects. No
assignments could be carried out in Lifestyle Evangelism by just
showing up at someone's door, unannounced and uninvited, presenting a
spiritual proposition and if unsuccessful, to "shake the dust off
our sandals" then moving on. The purpose of the initial contact
from Temple, to emphasize again, was simply to extend genuine
friendship to the persons involved. Apprehensions would began to vanish,
any thought of an ulterior motive would fade, common interests would
emerge and bonding would become real. Some showed an openness early
on. For others it was months and even years for a few.
When friendships would prove to be of long
standing and mutual respect, there would be ample opportunity in due time to
discuss spiritual things in earnest. However, had we been aggressive in
our first approach, no matter how stealthy the guise, chances were that it
could have become paradise lost. To quote an old adage, "There's
never a second chance to make a first impression." Nothing is truer
when so much is at stake. To repeat, "We have nothing to sell,
but something of great value to share."
I asked the question of each new
group in our training sessions: "How many of you came to know
Christ because of an approach by a total stranger?" The
response would always be virtually nil. When reversed, "How
many of you because of the influence and/or approach of someone whom
you loved, trusted or respected?" The response would always be virtually
unanimous. It made a lot of sense to follow an outreach
plan whereby the odds were 100 to 1 or 2 in one's favor.
Behind the scenes was an excellent volunteer
secretary, Evelyn Smith, who had just retired from her secular employment.
She built the file base, mailed all assignment letters to the teams,
which included pre-stamped, addressed, return envelopes with
information forms. If the forms were not returned by a
suggested time, Evelyn had a wonderful gift of effectively reminding
participants without offending them. She also chronicled the
returned information so that on-going assignments to other teams could be
updated. Candid evaluations from the teams contributed toward
the matching of teams and prospects as well as eliminating redundant
assignments to disinterested people.
It is only realistic to mention that some efforts
resulted in less than our desired hopes, and for that there is biblical
precedent. This was not an often occurrence because of our efforts to
find common ground for each team and prospect before making
assignments. One case in point merits a few lines. The leader
of a senior citizen team came to me on one occasion feeling down
after several failed attempts to connect with a couple. It was
his first unsuccessful attempt and he felt that he "blew
it" and had lost the couple.
I told him of an experience I had as a
pastor in the Bethany Church of Duluth. I had been building a
relationship for several months with a couple who were prospects for the
Lord and our Church. Rudy, one of the church leaders and a salesman
for a hotel and restaurant supply, took me aside one Sunday morning and questioned
why I hadn't approached these folks about spiritual things. I answered,
that I was waiting for just the right time because I didn't want to lose
He then told me about an occasion when he
stopped for lunch at a cafe along his route. It was not one of his
accounts. He chose to sit at the counter by the grill where he would
have easy access to the owner. A friendship built over time between the
two men of common interests. Finally, he asked the owner if he
would be interested in his company's services. The owner replied that
his relationship with Rudy's competitor had been fine for many years
and that he had no desire to change.
Rudy continued, that when he was
When an individual, a couple or a family
indicated genuine interest in the Lord and/or Church, we would sometimes
double or triple-team them. One Sunday, a father came walking across the
foyer at the close of Morning Worship, waving his white handkerchief and
humorously saying above the milling crowd, "Okay Pastor, we give up,
we're coming! we're coming!" They had no sooner become members
before the parents requested to become a husband-wife planter/waterer
Evangelism developed within
the Church more by osmosis than regimen. There were people who caught
the spirit of it and became very effective participants without
even joining a team. The pyramid graphic loosely portrayed the
concept and we were careful to be flexible in carrying out its function.
Example: a husband/wife team or an experienced/non-experienced training
team would each be effective in their own ways.
Participants found that having a part
in building friendships, gaining confidences, cultivating ties between newcomers
and church folks–including reaper
great joy. Then, in due time and through our combined efforts, to
see the redeeming work of God in hearts and lives was humbling,
rewarding and a cause for rejoicing, all at the same time.
What could create relationships in
ministry more dynamic, compatible and effective? Truly joy,
happiness and, yes, uplifting humor and laughter, were all blest by
God. "You will go out in joy · · the mountains and
hills will burst into song before you and all the trees of the field will clap
their hands · · The joy of the Lord is your strength, (Isa. 55:12, Neh.
8:10). People who are absorbed in making harmony together have
little time for disunity. A joyous contagion became the
hallmark of Lifestyle
Evangelism, and not only on earth but also
an occasional "rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one
sinner who repents," (Luke 15:10).
I must have inherited a penchant toward
joyfulness and humor from my dad. It came naturally to him and
when I discovered it within myself I wondered at times, especially as
a minister, whether or not I should have smothered it; that
is, until one of those Sunday evenings in the early sixties.
Someone informed Deloris and me at
the close of the service that a few folks in the foyer had
decided to go to the Oyster Bar before picking up their children at Farrell's
on the way home. We said we'd be there shortly to join them. There
were sixteen people at the large Captain's Table in the side room when
we arrived. We ordered, then visited about the activities of the
day at church. As we relaxed toward the end of lunch, a few innocent
jokes started us laughing. Finally I said, "Okay
guys, we had better knock it off and go get our kids."
I closed our delightful time in prayer and
we all headed for the cashier. Deloris and I were the last in
line. But then in a moment, I received a tap on my shoulder. I
looked and there was a little, elderly man behind me. He said,
"I take it you're the minister of this group." I
thought, "Oh no, where's a hole I can fall into?" He
continued, "Could I see you for a moment in the alcove?"
We moved to the little offset just a few steps around the corner
from the cashier's counter.
He continued by telling me that his wife had
come down with terminal cancer two years before and had passed away "a
month ago." His daughter had brought the staples they needed
and he hadn't left his wife's side during the whole time. Having
been lonely and grieving for so long, he decided that his first
outing would be to attend his church for the evening service. When no one
had noticed or spoken to him during the whole time, he wasn't in a mood to go
straight home, but to stop at the Oyster Bar on the way.
He had been sitting in a corner booth unbeknown to us and had come to
feel almost like part of our group. I indicated that he should
have let us know for there was room and that we would love to have had him
with us. He replied that he wasn't ready for that but paused
saying, "I called you aside to thank you and your people; you helped
me laugh for the first time in two years." I gave him a hug (not
according to Hoyle in those days) and we both were in tears.
I rejoined Deloris, introduced the two, and
we left. After about a half a block down the sidewalk, I paused, looked
into the dark sky and prayed, "Lord keep me from ever losing the
priceless gift of bringing a little joy and laughter into the lives of
others." Knowing that Deloris had to be perplexed by this
time, I shared with her the significance of tears following the
delightful time together. We went on to the car, reflectively, hand
in hand. As soon as we arrived home I phoned my friend, the gentleman's
pastor, and shared the incident with him. He thanked me with deep
appreciation. He remembered the gentleman and expressed concern
about contacting him as soon as possible.
As pastor and people, we charted a different
course in outreach evangelism and were privileged to experience
one era among many in
Temple's history when He deigned to
bring showers of blessing. Looking back, Lifestyle
Evangelism was not a program bought but a spirit caught. How could a
pastor be more blest than to have scores of members partnering with
him in different ways to reach people for Christ. And then to be
enriched by everyone involved, loved by them, bonded with them, sharing
life with them and now, more than three decades later, growing old with them. Deloris
and I can gratefully say, "I'm so glad I'm a part of the
Family of God."
Divine Providence as has been evidenced in
the comings and goings of Temple pastors. Each one, gifted in his
own way, has added dimensions and filled needs in the ongoing
ministry of the Church. The pastors and wives who succeed us will
be in our prayers until the Lord comes, or calls.
explaining the biblical principles and operational methods at Temple, were
later expanded into "Don't Cramp My Style" seminars that I
conducted in pastors' and church leadership groups. They were
scheduled between engagements during our cross-country travels over a
period of two decades.
Another blessing of our Temple
ministry was working with youth. In the second year of our ministry, I
recommended "Bud" Malmsten as Youth Pastor and Choir Director to
the Church Council, resulting in his call to the position.. It resulted
in a decade of working together in united purpose as a team.
Bud was uniquely loved by the youth as a trusted friend and wise confidant.
Many of the youth were open to the
truths of the Word of God from early childhood. By the end of high
school most had accepted the Lord, were growing in their faith and a few
went on to pursue full-time Christian service.
Their enthusiasm and involvement knew no
bounds. Temple's youth were constantly in the highest attendance
quantile at high school camps at Lake Retreat and also at Columbia Conference
youth rallies. During one year in the mid-sixties at the Bethel College
in St. Paul, Minnesota, Temple had the largest number of students from any
West Coast church ever–twelve, if memory serves me correctly.
The youth as a group manifested unusual
qualities of camaraderie and magnetism. One year in June, a Temple
father told me of plans for a family vacation in California. Their
highschoolers asked if they could stay in Portland instead. The reason?
They didn't want to miss the on-going youth meetings and activities, including
a special youth event. The parents granted the request because
they recognized that it was not just a lark but a desire to be a part of good
things that were happening among their peers. All was in order when the
rest of the family returned a week later.
Another remarkable event took place
when two families moved from the suburbs to the inner east side of Portland so
that they and their children might grow in the Lord together with the
Our annual youth weekend at Camp McGruder on
the Coast was a unique time for getting closer to our youth through teaching,
interaction, recreation and quiet times. The lodge was filled each year
and those weekends were memorable indeed. Many personal decisions
were made at casual times in the lodge, under a tree on the grounds or on
a beach log. All of the above, treasured memories.
Many young people from that generation are
active members and leaders at Temple, and in churches across the country.
Throughout my life, God has seen fit to use
my compositions and the sharing of sacred music. It was an honor to be
recommended for membership into the American Society of Composers, Authors and
Publishers (ASCAP) by Drs. John Peterson and Donald Hustad.
Consequently, I have been a member for several decades with a number of
If I were to become incapable of
expressing myself in sacred song, it would be tantamount to losing the
primary language of my soul.
Deloris' role as a pastor's wife was not one
of aspirations toward leadership or notoriety. She, however, loved to
teach in the
junior department of Sunday Bible School and was also active
in girls' club ministries. To this day, girls–and boys–(now adults),
send her notes or phone me expressing their appreciation and endearment for
her interest and example for them during their impressionable years.
One of her unusual gifts was one-on-one
counseling with women and girls. There were several reasons: 1. She was
knowledgeable through involvement as a teenager in her home church, and having
completed the Christian Education Course at Bethel College in St. Paul,
Minnesota. 2. She was not pushy or abrasive. 3. She could be trusted
implicitly. She kept confidences and her many friends knew it. I
have known some pastors' wives who were aggressively involved, but whose
husbands would have to go about putting out fires after them.
But then, there are those like Deloris who
personify the adage, "Quiet waters run deep." I have been
privileged to spend a lifetime appreciating those quiet, deep waters of a
Godly woman's soul.
From Deloris and me to all of you, God gave us twelve wonderful years
His Favorite Bible Verse
"He has showed you, O
man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God."
His Favorite Saying
"Jesus died to pay a debt He did not owe,
because I owed a debt I could not pay." (Unknown)
His Favorite Hymn
WOULD BE TRUE
I would be true for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure for there are those who care;
I would be strong for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave for there is much to dare.
I would be friend to all – the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving and forget the gift;
I would be humble for I know my weakness;
I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift."
Howard W. Walter James Y. Peek