About

Hi, I’m Sam Ochstein. Thanks for checking out my blog.

I’m a former pastor that now works in organizational and leadership development in business contexts.

I have an insatiable appetite for learning, I’m fascinated by the human condition and the complexities of life, and I’m passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves. I plan on writing about some of that here.

Additionally, I’m committed to thinking about Christian theology, Christian faith, and reading the Bible responsibly, and what all that means for living and loving in the way of Jesus.

I’m no expert, just a pilgrim on the way with lots of thoughts, questions, and different experiences that have formed and shaped me. I’ve deconstructed and reconstructed my faith many times over the years. I’m not sure what version I’m on now, but it’s something like 10.0 or beyond. I’ll write about those things here too.

I work and write from the Midwest, where I live with my wife Jen and our lovable yellow lab Amos. We like to take walks and hike. In 2017 we walked the last 150 miles of the Camino de Santiago over 10 days. I got a tattoo in Santiago, Spain where we finished. We often say that I probably wouldn’t have any adventures if it wasn’t for her.

One constant thread weaving its way through my journey has been writing.

I wrote dozens of stories as a kid and continued honing my writing skills through high school, college, and grad school. I was an English major when I first went to college, worked as a stringer reporter in the summers, and started my professional career as a journalist at age 21.

When I was 30, I became an ordained minister and lead pastor. I wrote and delivered a public, educational, persuasive speech — otherwise known as a sermon — nearly every Sunday over 10 years while serving three different congregations. I also published some articles and book reviews along the way.

After that, I worked in customer service development for a global manufacturer and currently work as a training leader for another manufacturer. Sometimes I write pieces on personal and professional development. These have been incredibly formative experiences for me and demonstrated that much of what I knew about working with people and human development and flourishing from vocational ministry transferred nicely into business contexts.

I’ve earned a BA in Bible and Ministry and an MMin and MATS from Bethel University (Indiana). I’m also just a few classes shy of an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA). I’d like to get a PhD some day. We’ll see.

Several years ago I came across this opening line from Thomas C. Oden’s Systematic Theology, in which his project was to distill and summarize what he considered the classical consensus of Christian faith:

Because of piety’s penchant for taking itself too seriously, theology — more than literary, humanistic, and scientific studies — does well to nurture a modest, unguarded sense of comedy. Some comic sensibility is requried to keep in due proportion the pompous pretensions of the study of divinity. (Systematic Theology, vol. 1, 1).

My aim in this blog is to have just such a comic sensibility, even as I ask questions, probe, lament, challenge, critique, and wonder about the complexities of life and Christian faith.

I hope you’re able to laugh a bit along the way as well. Maybe even cry.  Perhaps reconsider some things, learn something new, or be encouraged and affirmed in your convictions and intuitions. And always, hopefully, be drawn closer to the inclusive love of Jesus.

Thanks for reading.