Pastor Larson’s Corner: Shelter from the storms

Pastor Larsons Corner

I had a naturalist friend visit me last summer. I knew he was an expert on birds, so I asked him what I could do to attract more birds into my yard. He had a number of suggestions, including providing bird houses, a bird bath, and other nesting places. I have been busy ever since trying to improve the bird habitat in my yard. Gradually, the birds are figuring out that my yard is a safe and friendly place to hang out.

It seems to me that the church has a similar challenge. We need to do everything we can to make our congregations a safe habitat, a place where people can find shelter from the storms of life. Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of God being a place of shelter and safety. In His parable of the mustard seed, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a small seed that can grow and become a great tree that provides shelter and safety for nesting birds.

I am currently serving as the interim for a congregation in the process of calling a new pastor. As part of that process, the congregation sent out a survey to each member. The results of the survey showed that the members wanted our church to reach out to the community. They expressed the desire that our congregation establish programs and ministries that meet the needs of the people in our neighborhood.

If a person desires to have birds living in their yard and singing from their trees, they need to provide some friendly habitat; the same thing holds true for Christian congregations. If we are going to attract people from our neighborhood, we must consider their needs and become a friendly and serving community. Only then will we become the shelter from the storms of life that people in every neighborhood, and from all walks of life, need.

Pastor Larson’s Corner is written by Jerry Larson and appears weekly in the Norwegian American Weekly.

Pastor Jerry Larson retired to his cabin in Zimmerman, Minn., after 39 years in parish ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2011 he published a book entitled “Speaking the Word Freely: Writing with purpose, preaching with power.” Contact him at

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 5, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.