God Bless You and Your Ministry, Pastor Berman

Pastor Berman, I want to thank you for your comment on the “Who is Ronald Goetz?” page. I took the initiative to check out your Christian Life Fellowship website. Your congregation has an vibrant ministry to multiple age groups, a ministry that I’m sure is appropriate for Swanzey, New Hampshire. Congratulations and glory to God. I am certain you have witnessed many personal miracles.  I’d like to introduce my readers to your vital ministry.

Man-Up Men’s Ministry

The priorities of your men’s ministry are excellent, just what we need in our success-driven, hierarchy-obsessed, bullying culture. The goals of your organ-ization speak for themselves.

The Man-Up Men’s Ministry is dedicated to teaching men how to be strong Men of God, good husbands and fathers. It is also dedicated to influencing, guiding and mentoring young men in the ways of God.  The Man-Up Men’s Ministry is solidly based on the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The activities you sponsor sound great for aspiring men of God, young men needing direction and structure for their lives, and wholesome opportunities to socialize: especially your edgy skeet shoots and your March Meat Madness (grills and meat). The various other events, focused on “cars, guns, camping, fishing, hunting and more eating”, sound fun as well.

Children’s Faith Factory

Your Faith Factory sounds great, possibly in keeping with Jesus’ example of how to recruit, train, and motivate large numbers of disciples, all of whom will one day conform to strict measures of virtue, the righteousness of self-control, and a sober world view.

Virtue Women’s Group

The girl’s nights, shopping trips, and parties you organize for young women, moms, grandmas, and teens sound like a real draw, and your goals of growing closer to God, women understanding their callings, strengthening marriages and families, and increasing women’s knowledge of the Bible are totally appealing in our rootless culture, as inundated as it is with cultures and values that undermine our God-given stability and order.

Illuminate Drama Team

Your drama team sounds like dynamite. Involving people in special celebrations like Christmas and Easter is an excellent way of making sure people stay involved. In my youth I used to pooh-pooh church musicals as unspiritual. My mind was changed when one young professional man said, “This musical has been the most important church experience in my life.” You know the saying, “Use ’em or lose ’em!”

Women’s Jail

I really like that you have a ministry in the jails. Many churches prefer to reach out to nice, middle-class folks, who share their same bourgeois values, who can help keep the lights on. The fact that you’re in the trenches with unwed mothers, women suffering from opiate addiction, sex workers, and women who have been abused and crushed by worldly systems–what can I say? Bravo!


Kingdom Disciples Motorcycle Ministry

Your motorcycle ministry sounds radical! You seems to have found an interesting balance between being inclusive (allowing both men and women to participate), and drawing expected boundaries between insiders and outsiders. (“Non-Christians are welcome to ride with KD MM but cannot wear the colors as this is a Christian Ministry.”)

For people interested in an outreach to and ministry for bikers, you can read their guidelines here: BY LAWS.


I think that the hardest thing for many Christians is to give other Christians space to live out their Christians lives and ministry in our own communities according to their best lights. I am genuinely torn, though, when Godly virtues like love and justice seem, from my perspective, to be ignored and violated.

I know that I can get pretty steamed up about how some Christians treat various moral and ethical issues, and I know that they sometimes get just as steamed up about people like me. In the typical state of ideological conflict, I think one of the most appropriate passages for us is this one in Mark.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”

I know this is not a slam-dunk proof text that will shut down anyone who disagrees. Goodness, I know there are limits to tolerance. I hope I wouldn’t have “tolerated” the “German Christians” who surrendered Lutheran, Evangelical, and Catholic churches to Nazi domination. I hope I wouldn’t have supported segregated churches and anti-miscegenation laws in America. And I hope I would never have driven my gay or lesbian child out of my life, out of my congregation, or out of life itself, because of some rejection of their affectional inclinations.

But you know what? I was raised by white, middle-class activist(!) parents in the sixties, in East Oakland, right in the middle of free-speech Berkeley and flower-child San Francisco. Lived in Lockwood Gardens Housing Project at 65th and East 14th: family was on welfare, surrounded by drugs and out of wedlock playmates, To get to high school I used to transfer buses at 90th and East 14th, right across the street from Black Panther headquarters.

By temperament and upbringing, I was doomed to be a questioning, skeptical, left-wing intellectual. In all seriousness, my adolescent rebellion was to become a GARB Baptist. I took a long detour into fundamentalism, evangelicalism and neo-monarchism. I dwelt for many years in the land of A.B. Simpson (was even licensed in the C&MA for a while), graduated from Simpson College when it was still in San Francisco, before they fled the gunfire of the urban jungle.

If I’d been born ten years earlier, in 1945, in Biloxi, Mississippi, to some equally solid, equally white citizens, I have no idea what would have happened, or who I would be.

It is a cliché, that we are all so different from one another, and have such different backgrounds and upbringings. But for being such a commonplace, it is remarkable how little we take it to heart. Let me recommend a highly underrated Christian virtue: humility.


So you won’t be left in the dark, here’s Pastor Berman’s comment.

That is absurd. if you are against a sin and the person says the sin is ok, you can’t allow that person to be a bible leader. Its not the struggle with the sin, its the acceptance of it. If you reject a person committing adultery from being a Pastor and he says its ok, to commit adultery, does that make you a hater of the person? Or does it make you a person who says you can’t continue to commit adultery, say its ok, and at the same time be a pastor? you know the answer! your logic is absurd and you are deceived.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
This entry was posted in Autobiography, Biker Ministries, Humility, Institutional Religion, Liberal Devotion, Pastoral Ministry, Prison Ministries. Bookmark the permalink.

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