Prison Tats, Race Wars and White Collars: Why the Church Should be Rough Around the Middle

My first thought was, “Uh oh. Can we handle this?” I was worried about the potential fallout.

Could we handle that kind of issue and stick together even with differing opinions?

. . . . .

Preaching gives one a unique, visual vantage point. I see it all.

Two weeks ago, I saw a man who doesn’t believe women should hold positions of authority in the church sitting a few feet away from a woman who believes very strongly in gay marriage.

In that same service, I saw a congressman sitting a few feet away from a person who would never vote for him in a million years. 

I saw a tattoo artist sitting next to a 90-year-old matriarch of the church. 

I saw a family sitting next to a felon. 

There are people who can’t afford to go to the doctor sitting feet away from those who have elected to undergo cosmetic surgery. 

Dirty blue jeans, Armani suits, people who hitch rides, people who leave multiple cars at their second homes—this is all part of a shift that has been taking place over the past few years in our congregation.

From the pulpit, I love to look up and see these diverse stories gathered under a common roof. It feels like the kingdom of God.

But in worship, it is easy to be smooth around the edges. We have enough in common to be there together.

But what happens when the family knows it’s sitting next to a felon?

What happens when the grandmother realizes that the nice girl that has been sitting in front of her for the last few weeks is an addict?

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Scott Castleman
Scott Castleman is a third generation Presbyterian pastor. He and his wife Rebecca have been married for fifteen years. They have three children. Scott received his bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies from Belhaven University in 1998. After four years in full time youth ministry he attended Reformed Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary where he received a Masters of Divinity in 2006. He has been the senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Ocean Springs, MS since 2009. He is currently working on a Doctorate of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary with a focus on leadership.

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