Fred Harden III
via email

Love Sheep, Love Goats

I love Joseph O’Brien’s column, “Sheep and Goats,” and read it without fail. However, the stock questions are vapid. Every pastor works “20 hours” a week on his sermon. So? Who cares? The Ten Commandments question? Can be better.

Here are my suggested substitutes (use some or all):

What do you specifically do to make your church relevant to America in 2011?

Why should anyone be a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc.?

Why is the Christian concept of “sin” and its consequences important anymore?

What is the most corrupting influence hurting your congregation?

Do you believe Heaven and Hell are actual realities?

How do you explain Christian freedom versus the tyranny of “do’s and don’t’s”?

Martin Roules
via email

Joseph O’Brien responds: Mr. Roules, Thank you so much for your suggestions and for making the pastor’s Q and A a regular part of your reading diet.

Space limitations in the column itself prevent readers from seeing the deep conversations that my interviews become with pastors. The questions are meant to serve less as an indication of what was actually asked verbatim and more a context in which to place the response. Thus, the apparent vapidity.

Incidentally, over the course of any given interview, in the typical give and take that interviewing entails, many if not all of your suggested interview questions are in fact asked.

That said, I appreciate the suggestions and am flattered to know I have such a committed reader. I will attempt if space permits to more explicitly incorporate some of these questions into the column. Thanks for reading!

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