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Chapter 4: Interview

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A novel about life behind the scenes for an evangelical pastor's family: in the church, the parsonage, the community.

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© 1996 G. Edwin Lint
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Jim counted about ten people seated in the conference room, chatting with their neighbors on one side or the other. As soon as they realized the prospective pastor had been escorted into the room, they rose as a body and faced him. It was almost as though an ensign had barked, "Admiral on deck!" Jim was tempted to say "At ease."

Grace said simply, "Be seated, folks. I'd like you to meet Jim Hogan from Ashtabula, Ohio. We're running a little tight on time so let's get started. You all know that Jim has been given a unanimous vote by the board to come as our next pastor. Jim, I'm going to turn things over to you. I think we should plan to break up here about one so we can get ready for the open interview session in Fellowship Hall, and that begins at one thirty."

Jim took his seat and glanced around the table. Sandy had been at work with her Macintosh and mouse in here, too. Everyone was wearing the same type of name badge he wore. In addition, a crisp place card which showed name and title was at each person's chair . At that moment Sandy appeared at his side and, with a quick wink, deftly replaced a "Rev. James A. Hogan" card with the "Jim Hogan" version. Jim promised himself he would learn more about this Macintosh and LaserWriter business whether he pastored this church or not.

Now he scanned the names and titles on the place cards which Sandy had prepared: Jason Masters, Assistant Pastor; Jill Dawson, Associate Pastor for Young Adults; Bob Baker, Associate Pastor for Teens; Emily Marlow, Associate Pastor for Education; Cliff Graham, Associate Pastor for Music; Patricia Court, Director of Wesley Day Care. Besides the professional staff, there were three secretaries present: Betty Hummel, Lois Boop, and Rebekah Ottinger. Grace Carson, Miles Abbott, and Sandy Simpson had place cards, also.

Grace continued. "We would like this to be a smaller and more informal version of the open interview this afternoon. This will give us some time to get to know each other a little. And please feel free to ask questions. It's all yours, Jim."

"Good morning, everyone," and there were friendly smiles and nods all around with a chorus of good mornings in return. "Maybe I should have said good noon." Appreciative laughter from the group.

"According to my watch, we have about 70 minutes to get acquainted. I have copies of your job descriptions which Sandy has kindly prepared, and I see each of you has a copy of my resume abstract. But I'd like to have us exchange some information, somewhat off the cuff. Agreed?" More nods and smiles.

"Can you provide resume abstracts to go with these job descriptions?" he asked Sandy.

"Jim, they're attached to the back of the job descriptions."

"Great. Then I guess I have everything I'll need if I need to do some pondering when I get back home."

Jim caught some raised eyebrows at Sandy's casual use of his first name.

"First I'd like to share some information about myself which doesn't appear on that resume. Most important, I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I have accepted Him as my Lamb of God. I believe God sent Him into the world to die as the ultimate, supreme, once-and-for all sin sacrifice so I, and anyone else who accepts Him as their sacrifice, won't have to bear the penalty for sin which is eternal death. I also have the presence of the Holy Spirit and He provides me with three types of power. This power to the third power includes power to comprehend the eternal truths of the Bible and to share those truths with others, power to be preserved from sin as long I maintain my guard so Satan and his demons can't destroy me, and third, power to do things which far exceed my own human abilities."

Jim was pleased to note that his testimony was punctuated at various points by amens, with the most frequent and fervent coming from Jason Masters.

"A minute ago, I thought a saw a little reaction when Sandy called me Jim. Sandy, why don't you comment on that yourself?"

Briefly she summarized the incident about the name tag which had taken place in the reception area.

"Back home, the people on staff are free to call me Jim when we're working together in the offices, like we are right now. We have a youth pastor, Gary Marker, and all the kids call him Pastor Gary-- when they're not calling him "Magic Marker" or "Little Miss Marker. He has a very open relationship with all the kids and they love him all the more for it. That's the way we like to operate in Ashtabula."

Jim could detect an easing of tension which seemed to circle the table. Jason took off his jacket and hung it over the back of his chair. Bob loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar. Miles pushed back his chair and propped his feet on the table, getting a stern visual rebuke from Sandy.

Jim played along. "Glad to see you're getting comfortable. But if you sleep, don't snore."

More appreciative laughter as everyone got psychologically comfortable at least.

"Now it's your turn to talk. Jason, let's start with you."

"Thank you, Jim, for letting me call you 'Jim'". More appreciative laughter.

Jim wasn't sure what was so funny but decided to let Jason continue and see what developed.

"I moved to Messiah Village to retire after thirty-five years in the ministry. But Grace, here, Shanghaied me back into active duty. My job as Assistant Pastor has involved visiting new contacts and those who are ill, running our ministry for senior citizens, and carrying a fairly heavy load in the area of spiritual counseling. And, when the Senior Pastor is away or ill, I fill the pulpit."

"And does it very well, I might add," said Grace. "Jim, before you continue your meeting, I think I should say what everyone else is thinking. Your personal style is so different from Dr. Clark's that the staff is close to shock. That's why everyone has the giggles and Miles has been misbehaving. We're just expressing a feeling of release. Now don't get me wrong. Dr. Jeremiah Clark is a saint of God whom we all respect highly. It's just that his wife, who always calls him 'Dr. Clark' when anyone is around, well-- Mable just puts a little too much starch in his shirts. That's all." Close to uncontrolled laughter. "But now Dr. Clark has retired to Florida and it looks like we may be entering a new era. Does that help?"

"Sure does. But for now, let's leave Jerry to his fishing pole or golf clubs or whatever it is that retired people do down in Florida. "Jill, tell me about your work with the young adults."

Jill Dawson was somewhat rounded but smiled readily and had deep dimples. She talked rapidly, saying much of it with her hands. Jim's Dad would say this woman could talk a leg off an iron pot.

"My ministry includes programs for folks from the day they graduate from high school up through their late twenties, early thirties. Activities, outings, Bible studies, personal witnessing and visitation, maybe a little informal career and marriage counseling thrown in. You name it, we do it," Jill finished with a flourish of her hands.

"Sounds like a full-time job. Bob, how about you?

"A lot of the same programs as Jill has but mine run from the seventh through the twelfth grades. I spend a lot of time in the high schools, especially during lunch periods. Just talking with kids, not only our church kids but anyone who wants to talk. I'm the chaplain of four different varsity football teams; pray with the guys in the locker rooms before the game, kind of hang out on the bench. The last weekend of the football season, I attended parts of six games. Two Friday night, two Saturday afternoon, and two Saturday night. It's a very exciting and a very rewarding ministry."

Jim nodded approvingly. It was easy to see that this man would be equally at home in a locker room or a Bible study. Jim guessed Bob Baker stood at least six-six. His afro was well-trimmed and his dress was stylishly casual but impeccable. His voice was well-modulated and his speech was both crisp and articulate. Jim had a hunch he knew a little more about playing football than praying before the game.

"Emily, let's hear about the Christian education you're giving these kids."

Emily Marlow wore her medium brown hair straight and parted in the middle. Debra would call her attractive which meant no major structural flaws but not pretty, either. Behind her round oversized wire rims her eyes flashed with a dry wit and an articulate summary of her ministry told Jim she might be plain but she surely wasn't dull. He learned her responsibilities extended beyond the traditional morning Sunday school hour to include nursery and junior church programs from infancy through sixth grade. She also ran church-related scouting programs for boys and girls. During her spare time, she taught classes to train teachers and aids in doctrine as well as the principles of education. Busy lady.

Miles spoke up, a wide grin on his face. "Jim, I claim the honor of introducing our Associate Pastor for Music. Meet Cliff Barrows Graham!"

Cliff joined in the laughter with Miles laughing loudest.

"With a name like that, you don't need a title," Jim joked amid the laughter.

"My parents were saved at a Billy Graham crusade while my mother was carrying me, and that's how I got the name. The music comes from the fact that they are both card-carrying professional musicians to this day."

Cliff went on to say that he directed the choir and orchestra, led the singing, and coordinated special music for all services. In addition, he taught classes in sight reading music and coached the people who supplied the special music in performance techniques.

"Music is an important part of worship," said Jim seriously. "I'm looking forward to hearing the choir and orchestra tomorrow morning.

"Now let's talk about the wee ones. Ready Patricia?"

Briskly the director of the Wesley Day Care outlined her program, explaining that she used the nursery and classroom facilities of Wesley Evangelical Church to provide a quality Christ-centered day care program for families of all religious persuasions.

Next Jim asked the three secretaries to talk a little about their work. He noted that all three spoke with some degree of the Pennsylvania Dutch accent common to the central part of the state. Rebekah Ottinger was the most dutchified of all and wore the small white cap of the Mennonites.

Jim was extremely impressed with the staff. They were all very well spoken and gave evidence of a sincere concern for the souls of their parishioners. Checking the resume abstracts as each person spoke, he had noted that everyone had a Master's degree. Jason, Bob, and Jill had received theirs at various evangelical seminaries. Emily, Cliff, and Patricia had their degrees in their respective fields.

"I believe that about wraps things up as far as I'm concerned, except for one thing. I already know Miles and Sandy are married. How about the rest of you?"

There were nods around the table. "She isn't married," said Miles looking straight at Grace, who responded with a warning wag of her finger.

"I may be out of line in this, and if I am, Grace can cut me off. But I'd like to include the spouses in the staff banquet you've planned for this evening. This afternoon's interview sounds like it may get hectic and tomorrow I'll be meeting hundreds of new people. I'd like to have a relatively quiet time with all of us at this table plus your spouses. Of course if your spouse has another commitment, no problem. I know this is spur of the moment.

"And Grace, I'll make a deal with you. If you can talk the board into supporting this extra expense, I'll be your escort for the evening!"

Everyone laughed approvingly and Miles clapped loudly.

"That's an offer no one of my age or marital status should reject," said Grace with a broad smile. "It's a deal!"

The meeting broke up on that note and Sandy hurried to her phone to instruct the restaurant to plan for an extra nine places at dinner that evening. Miles and Grace stayed behind to confer with Jim.

Grace looked at her watch. "The buffet over in Fellowship Hall should be ready to serve now. Shall I ask Sandy and the girls to bring over trays? We could eat right here so you wouldn't have to stand in line."

"I wouldn't mind standing in line if I were going to eat," Jim said quietly. Actually I was hoping to slip into the sanctuary and spend some time at the altar between now and when the interview is to start. I'm not worried about knowing the answers to the questions, but I am concerned that I phrase those answers in a way which will be informative without being abrasive."

Grace and Miles nodded, silently pleased at the emphasis Jim placed on prayer in his own life.

"Fine, Jim. Sandy, Miles, and I will get our lunch and I'll plan to meet you back here, shall we say, around two? My guess is we won't be ready to introduce you until about that time.

Jim nodded and as he was rising to leave for the sanctuary, Sandy tapped on the open door.

"Excuse me, Jim, but I forgot to ask you about editing the tape."

"What tape is that, Sandy?"

"I'm sorry, Jim," Grace said. "I'm the one who forgot. We're planning to tape the interview this afternoon. You'll be speaking from a mike, of course, and we're asking each person with a question to come to a mike, also, when they speak. After the interview, our sound man, Dick Allen, will duplicate the interview tape and copies will be available in the morning services for anyone who didn't get to this afternoon's session. Go ahead with your question, Sandy."

"Dick needs to know if you want to review the tape or have edits made before he makes the copies."

Jim hid his surprise at the plans for taping and duplicating. By noon tomorrow, the church's entire constituency would have access to every word he said this afternoon. He was doubly glad that he would be able to spend an hour or so at the altar before running the gauntlet. "As far as I know now, nothing will need to be done to the tape before it's duplicated. Barring some type of tasteless outburst from a questioner, that is. Tell Dick to go ahead with the duplicating unless he hears from me otherwise."

Sandy, Miles, and Grace all liked Jim's answer and Sandy hurried out to return Dick's call.

At the very instant Jim was dropping to his knees at the church altar, Debra was kneeling in prayer in the study at the Ashtabula parsonage. It wasn't until six months later that they learned of what was far more than a coincidence.

At five minutes after two, Grace came hurrying into the conference room, somewhat out of breath.

"I think we're about ready for you in Fellowship Hall, Jim. Everyone who bought a buffet ticket has now gone through the line and if you don't mind talking while people finish eating, I think we can begin."

"Let's do it," Jim said.

He estimated that three hundred people were seated at tables in Fellowship Hall and at least that many were seated in rows of folding chairs along the walls and across the back. Those in the rows of chairs had either finished eating or had elected to skip the buffet and just come for the interview. Jim sat in an empty chair near the entrance as Grace moved to the podium.

"Speaking for the church board and the search committee, I'd like to thank all of you for coming out this afternoon to meet Jim Hogan who is a candidate for senior pastor. Jim, why don't you stand so everyone can see who you are." The candidate for pastor rose briefly and was greeted with vigorous applause.

"In case we haven't met, my name is Grace Carson and I chair the church board. On my right is Miles Abbott who heads the search committee, and he's seated with his lovely wife, Sandy, who serves as administrative assistant to the senior pastor.

"Some of you may not know the history of what brings Jim Hogan to Mechanicsburg today so let me fill you in. Back in September, shortly after Dr. Clark retired, Miles and Sandy and a couple people from the search committee went to hear Jim preach in his current church at Ashtabula, Ohio. He had no idea who they were then but they came back with a very glowing report of Jim's preaching and how he conducted the morning worship service. On the basis of that visit, the board invited Jim and his wife, Debra, to come and talk to us about moving to Mechanicsburg. He didn't preach for us at that time but the board was so impressed, we gave Jim a unanimous call to become our next pastor.

"Very few of you know that our bylaws require that a pastoral call by the board must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of members who are of voting age and present at a meeting called at least three weeks in advance. That ratification vote will be taken tomorrow evening after the service. Before you vote, however, we wanted you to have an opportunity to present questions to our candidate on any Biblical, or moral, or social issues-- as long as those questions are in good taste. Jim readily consented to subject himself to what we have come to refer to among ourselves as 'the interview'. He's also agreed to not use an open Bible or any notes in responding to your questions. He has no idea what your questions will be. In fact, none of us do. This will be entirely extemporaneous.

"Now, some guidelines for you. You may ask one primary question and one follow-up question. You may not ask a third question or engage in any type of dialog with Jim. If you do, I think Dick Allen over here on the PA system will shut your water off." Everyone laughed and Grace continued. Now, let's give a warm Mechanicsburg welcome to Jim Hogan of Ashtabula, Ohio!"

Everyone rose and the applause was hearty and prolonged. When the hall was quiet and the people had resumed their seats, Jim began. "Thank you for that 'warm' welcome. While driving through a blizzard on I-80 yesterday afternoon, there was a time when I thought I might never get out of Clearfield County. So anything warm is really welcome." More laughter. I'm not going to spend any time talking about myself or my family. Sandy tells me you have a copy of my resume and personal testimony. Let me assure you that every word of that testimony about my relationship with God, His Only Begotton Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is absolutely true. I'm not quite as sure about the resume." Again laughter.

"There sure are a lot of people here this afternoon and if you each ask just one question, we'll be here till the snow melts. So here's what I'd like to do. Sandy has some three-by-five index cards numbered one through ten." Sandy fanned her cards and held them high for every one to see. "If you want to ask a question, get Sandy's attention and she'll give you a numbered card. Please don't write your question on the card. It's just to show you when it's your turn to come to the mike and ask your question. After the first ten questions have been asked, we'll recycle the cards and start all over--until all questions have been asked or until we run out of time. When you get up here to the mike, please begin with your name and your relationship to this church or another organization you may be representing.

"Any questions about asking questions? Yes, right here in front."

"No question, Pastor", said a very large lady with a very small hat perched on top of her head. "I just want to get a card so I can have a number."

"Good! Sandy, give this lady a card and, Ma'am, please step to the mike and tell us your name."

"My name is Betty Lydecker and I'm a charter member of this church. What I want to know is, which do you think is the real Bible? I keep hearing about these new-fangled translations and I don't know which one to read any more."

"The King James Version was good enough for Peter and Paul so it's good enough for me." General laughter. "Seriously, Betty, . . . " and the questions and questioners came in a steady steam.


After several rounds of questions and answers, Jim was beginning to feel pretty good about this question and answer business in front of such a large audience. His pleasure was short-lived. The woman stepping to the mike was dressed very sharp, in the casual, loose-fitting style favored by Yuppies. If Jessi was here, she would know instantly what clothing label was being displayed. Was it Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, Perry Ellis? Whatever the label, the woman's set jaw and piercing eyes told Jim that his answer would not be welcomed.

Sandy broke into Jim's reverie by saying hesitantly, "Pastor Jim, this is Penny Starr. She's an investigative reporter for 'The Guide'." Jim could hear the tension in Sandy's voice and wasn't sure what to expect.

"I'd like to ask a question as a private citizen instead of a reporter," Ms. Starr said in a cultured, low-pitched voice which hinted at on-air experience. "Are you pro-choice or are you pro-life?"

Jim and Debra had talked about how to handle an abortion question if one was asked, so he knew exactly what he was going to say. Knowing what to say didn't make him feel any better about saying it because he could tell he was in a lose-lose situation.

"In a forced choice such as you've given me, I must say that I'm pro-life," and he continued smoothly when she tried to cut in, "but let me put that position in context. Abortion is one of the most painful and divisive topics on the contemporary social, legal, and religious scene. I surely can't hope to provide a solution during this interview. However, I think I can provide some food for thought by drawing your attention to another controversial topic which has also been much discussed in social, legal, religious, and political circles, and that is capital punishment. If you're saying, 'Hey, Pastor, there's no relationship between abortion and capital punishment, give me the next three minutes and at least listen.

"Here are the points of comparison between abortion and capital punishment. First, both involve life. Second, both involve ending life for what are thought to be good reasons. And third, both have strong adherents and opponents. Now let's look at these one by one, and I'm taking the life issue first. If you believe the Bible, you have to accept the fact that life begins at conception. The prophet Jeremiah talks about God calling to him while he was still in his mother's womb. If you're talking about breath, that does begin at birth, If you're talking about life, that begins at conception. Of course there is no question that a convicted criminal is alive.

"Second, let's talk about the 'thought-to-be' good reasons for ending life. In the case of the unborn fetus, these reasons generally relate to the personal preferences of the woman, with the dominant preference having a lot to do with convenience. A career woman finds it inconvenient to interrupt her climb up the corporate ladder to have a baby. The working woman finds it inconvenient to lose the second income and incur the financial burden of raising a child. The unmarried woman simply finds it inconvenient. In other words, the decision to kill the baby is made on the basis of what the woman wants to do, not on the basis of what the baby has done.

"Now let's talk about the "thought-to-be" good reasons for ending life in the case of the person convicted of a terrible crime such as a murder and kidnapping. First, the Bible clearly supports the concept of capital punishment. God Himself practiced it regularly and He commanded that it be used by humans in cases of horrible crimes. In fact, every civilization since the dawn of time has applied the principles of capital punishment-- until the last 50 years or so. In other words, the decision to kill the person who commits a horrible crime is based on what that person has done.

"Now the ultimate point of the comparison. The average liberal supports abortion and opposes capital punishment while the average conservative opposes abortion and supports capital punishment. I may not have the research to support this theory but you can do your own research right now. Think of your liberal and conservative acquaintances. Where do they stand on these issues?

"And that, said Jim hoping to defuse a potentially tense situation, is a K-Mart Blue Light Special-- two for the price of one."

Jim was positive there would be a follow-up question but the reporter just stared straight into his eyes before reaching up to adjust her floppy-brim hat. That movement was a signal because at that instant, about fifteen young adults seated across the back of the hall leaped to their feet and began marching up the center aisle. As they marched, they pumped convention-style signs up and down on which had been screen-printed the slogan "It's Our Body" in huge block letters. As the demonstrators marched, they chanted "It's our body, we decide!" over and over again. As the marchers neared the front row of seats, the leader handed an extra sign to Penny Starr who then headed the column, strutting and shouting at the top of her lungs, "It's our body, we decide! It's our body, we decide!"

Suddenly the front of Fellowship Hall was bathed by harsh TV lights. A Channel 27 Action News minicam had just swung into action. But before the camera man could pan down the line of marchers, a painful whistle blast stopped everything cold. Dick Allen, the sound man, jerked off his earphones and yelped in pain.

Grace Carson was standing at the mike, calmly twirling the lanyard of an Acme Thunderer referee's whistle clockwise and counterclockwise around her index finger, very much like a bored lifeguard on a stand at Virginia Beach. There was complete silence for about ten seconds.

Then Penny again lifted her sign and opened her mouth to continue the chant. Before she could utter a single syllable, Grace popped the Acme back in her mouth, leaned close to the mike, and shrilled three short, sharp blasts.

"Penny Starr, sit down!" she ordered in her clarion principal's voice. "You are on private property in a private building by invitation of the official board of this church. Our right to assemble and our right of free speech supersede anything you plan to say or do! And the rest of you can take your seats, also. I've had all of you in school at one time or another and you know I won't stand for this kind of nonsense."

Jim was totally amazed at what happened next. Later, as he and Debra discussed the demonstration back in Ashtabula, he still couldn't believe it. Penny Starr lowered her gaze, her sign, and her feathers, and returned to her seat. The rest of the demonstrators did the same! Jim was stunned!. Having a retired high school principal as chair of the church board wasn't all bad.

The TV reporter was still hovering along the side wall so Jim decided to outflank him. "Why don't we take a short break so we can all have a chance to stretch a little. I'll be ready for the next question at exactly two-forty-five," he said as he set his wrist alarm.

During the break, Jim made a quick stop in the men's room and then walked down to the sanctuary altar for ten minutes of intense prayer. "Lord, help me say the right thing in the right way. May your Holy Spirit touch my mind, touch my lips, keep my spirit sweet and Christ-like . . ."

In a small vestibule off the rear entrance to Fellowship Hall, an impromptu board meeting was being held during the break. "Well, what do you think?" Grace asked casually.

"I'm impressed," Miles offered promptly. "The guy's dynamite! Glad we're getting this on tape." Several members nodded agreement but Karl Zimmerman was giving his close-cropped and grizzled head a knuckle massage.

"Now I'm not so sure," he said in the Snyder County whine of the Pennsylvania Dutchman. "Some things he's talking about are controversial. And he seems so sure. Everything is black or white. There's nowhere to think for yourself, seems to me."

"That's exactly what I like about him," Miles retorted. "Stands on his own two feet and speaks his mind. If we're going to pay a man a generous salary plus housing and fringes, I expect to get my money's worth."

"I'll tell you one thing," spoke up an elderly lady with a cane hanging from her arm, "every word he's said so far is straight from the Bible. And he's speaking without notes and hasn't even opened the Good Book once."

"I agree with Sister Briscow," spoke up Sandy, "and a lot of the people out there in the Hall do, too. I don't want a pastor who's so wishy-washy you can't tell if he's fer it or agin it."

"Pipe down, little lady," said Miles. "You don't have a vote on the board."

"I may not have a vote but I'll always have an opinion," Sandy flashed back.

"You got that right," Miles muttered good-naturedly and the ad hoc board meeting broke up as the participants drifted back to their seats in the Hall.

Jim resumed his place at the mike, ready for the questions to continue. Sandy, who has the next question?"

The questioning continued for another forty-five minutes or so and might have gone on into the night but Grace intervened. "Pastor Jim Hogan, I am positively amazed at your depth of knowledge on each topic on which you have been questioned. And I have been moved by the Christian spirit in which you have handled some of the most controversial issues in our society today. But most important, and I must give credit to Pastor Jason Mattern for pointing this out to me just a little while ago, you have been in a spirit of prayer much of the afternoon. In fact, Pastor Jason told me that he has felt strongly impressed to pray for you as you presented your answers. And that makes sense, because no mere mortal would be gifted with your depth of wisdom unless the Holy Spirit was upon him.

"Before we close, I want to remind you that Pastor Jim will be preaching in both worship services tomorrow morning as well as tomorrow night. And remember that this session was taped this afternoon and if you ordered a tape ahead of time, you can pick up that tape after the services tomorrow morning at the information desk in the lobby.

"And one last announcement. Tomorrow evening at the close of the worship service, the church will vote on whether to call James Hogan to be our next pastor. All church members fifteen years of age and older will be eligible to vote. Anyone have anything else before we close?" and Grace visually checked with Sandy, Miles, and key board members. "All right, Pastor Jim, I'll call upon you for closing remarks-- as long as you promise not to answer any more questions!" The crowd laughed.

Jim said, "Let us stand for prayer. . ."

After the brief prayer, a man approached Jim with a smile and hand extended. "My name is Ray Benson and I was wondering if you've ever thought of doing any TV?"

"Not really. Some ministers may feel called to the electronic pulpit but I have never felt drawn in that direction.

"How about Christian radio?"

"I have thought about that, especially a music format. We evangelicals tell our kids not to listen to secular rock music because of its emphasis on sex and drugs and violence, and even the occult. But what do we offer in its place? I feel the church should put its money where its convictions-- and restriction-- are. We should financially support Christian music on the radio. And not only in contemporary formats for the kids, but in easy-listening and southern formats for the rest of us, too."

"What about a Christian talk show with live phone calls? You sure know how to handle tough questions."

"Never gave it a thought," Jim said honestly. "Maybe some day." Benson handed Jim his card and then turned to go.


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