Author Archives: Tom Cramer

From Merry-Go-Rounds to Flywheels: How Los Ranchos is Going from “Good to Great”

Back in the day, almost every park had a spinning platform called a “merry-go-round.” The object was to get the platform spinning as fast as you could by running alongside it while holding a bar that separated its slots. Then, in one courageous move, you would jump onto the platform and feel the forces of physics take over. If you were really bold, you might attempt one of your favorite moves, like holding on one-handed … Read More

Looking Out the Window

When I was 12 years old, my parents thought it was a good idea to camp through Europe with their five younger children. That meant five children under the age of thirteen riding in the back of a Volkswagen campervan for an entire month. After one week of non-stop brawling, with arms and legs flying everywhere, and my parents valiantly trying to keep the van steady while driving, they did what any reasonable parents would … Read More

The Avocado Tree

As a boy growing up with four brothers, fighting was an everyday occurrence. It didn’t help matters that we were all about the same size and shared a communal shelving unit in our laundry room upon which we stored our clothes. Part of our morning ritual was to get up early and grab the best outfit for school. Unfortunately, more times than you would think, you would find another set of hands on the same … Read More

From Oprah to Belhar: The “Why” behind the “What”

I’ve made a big deal lately about supportive partnerships and their power to sustain spiritual, physical, and societal transformation. I realize now that I’ve written and spoken about the “what” without saying too much about the “why.” So, I thought I’d take a moment and give you a glimpse into my thought process, as orthodox as it may seem. When I reflect on our mission on earth as disciples and congregations, I think most about … Read More

Vegetables for Breakfast

Millions of people do it every morning. The French do it. The Thai do it. And, I’ve noticed, many athletes do it, too. They eat vegetables for breakfast. I didn’t think I could ever get used to the idea myself, especially with my penchant for Sausage McMuffins and warmed cinnamon rolls, but my friend and I looked at each other last March and decided to do something about our potbellies. We were tired of carrying … Read More

Presbytery Council Takes a Step Toward Healing

Once, when my family was deep in the heart of Mexico, my wife cut her leg on the wood bedframe that protruded from beneath our mattress. She didn’t make a big deal about it, so I didn’t pay much attention at first. Later that day, I asked if I could take a look. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The cut was actually a deep gash, at least an inch-and-half wide that went all the … Read More

A Glorious Celebration

The 222nd General Assembly of the PC(USA) was a glorious celebration of the wider church. It was also historical. The Assembly approved the Confession of Belhar  to be included in our Book of Confessions, ending years of conversation on the church’s role in reconciliation, race relations, and peacemaking. There was hardly a dry eye in the convention center when it passed. Also historical, was the first election of women co-moderators, one of them a 37-year … Read More

A Time for Fireworks and Champagne

I feel like school just recessed for the summer. Do you remember the feeling? The world bursts with possibility, the scent of cut grass, warm days stretching into cool evenings, the anticipation of holidays and fireworks. All seems possible. “Why?” you might ask. God answered so many prayers in the month of May it feels like I have been given a new lease on life. On top of celebrating my daughter’s graduation from college, another … Read More

A Missionary for Every Place and Walk of Life

Last month I wrote about a powerful process that congregations can use to mobilize their members for mission right where they are. It was the “Awaken & Activate” process, next hosted by the Presbyterian Church of the Master from June 14-16. Now I want to spotlight another resource that is transforming the way Christians in America are bringing the life of Jesus to their communities and places of work. Let me do so by focusing … Read More

Become a Church That Impacts the Community

One congregation I visited recently for a town hall meeting was lamenting the fact that they had so few young families with children participating in their fellowship while there were so many young families with children living in the neighborhood near their church. One member even exclaimed, “I just don’t understand why young people are not coming to our church?” It was an honest question, to be sure, but I don’t believe it is the … Read More