Thinking Out Loud

August 8, 2020

Thoughts on John Ortberg’s Farewell Sermon

Filed under: Church, current events — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:32 pm

After watching the sermon from Menlo Church earlier in the week, I thought I might write something. But I find my thoughts are still scattered, so I’m going with a bullet-point format.

  • Over the years, I’ve really enjoyed John Ortberg’s teaching. It’s hard to be objective.
  • Ortberg has also mentored another west coast pastor who I’ve frequently quoted here. I’m sure that pastor and his congregation are reeling from these developments.
  • In the bookstore where I hang out, I counted 16 titles by John Ortberg this week, and I know there were at least a half dozen DVDs in another section. (The listings on his Wikipedia page are sorely out-of-date.) But those numbers pale in comparison to all the things he has written, including the forewords for other writer’s works, and the number of times he is cited.
  • His connection to Dallas Willard made him a go-to source on the issues of spirituality, spiritual rhythms, spiritual practices, etc.
  • At least he got to do a farewell sermon.
  • I thought he did well. He took the high road. He encouraged his church’s members and adherents. He was being pastoral even at the end.
  • As often happens, a pastor’s home life can be more chaotic than what you’d expect. The Ortberg family dynamics are less than ideal. Much healing is needed.
  • He was at Menlo for 17 years. The church had, I believe, 6 campuses.  Megachurches with an iconic leader have a much bigger challenge when it comes to finding a replacement.

You may watch the entire service at this link. Or if you prefer, watch the 20-minute sermon only.


When I went to post the above screenshot of last Sunday’s sermon, I discovered this one, including Bill Hybels was in my picture files. John led the charge against Bill when the latter was facing his own crisis in 2018. We used the image in this commentary.

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