Chris Yaw Interviews John Wimberly: The Benefits of the Long-Term Pastorate

Taken with permission from

Three decades ago John Wimberly came to Western Presbyterian Church and found 70 people near the age of 70.

3o years later that number is around 350 - and growing younger.

No, there's no silver bullet, just a great combination of preaching, pastoral care, and commitment to study - to name a few. Hear this words of a seasoned professional.


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John Wimberly's commitment to stay with the same people in the same place has paid off. Here are my notes from the interview:

Pastoral Care is Key

Ten minutes of pastoral are can make up for ten years of sermons. John has gone out on Christmas Eve (between services) to visit those who lost a loved one in the previous year. People are still talking about it.

Be a Life-Long Student

John earned both and MBA and  PhD while at Western - he also recommends reading one book of poetry every year: both poets and preachers wrestle with words.

The Long Pastorate

John was able to change so much at Western because he simply stuck around for a while. He believes in incremental change because it can have a better chance of working.

About John W. Wimberly, Jr.

John Wimberly has been pastor of the Western Presbyterian Church in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. since 1983.  John holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, McCormick Theological Seminary, The Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and The George Washington University.  John helped found the Houston Rape Crisis Coalition, the Network for Abused Women in Montgomery County, Miriam's Kitchen for the Homeless at Western and Network Ethiopia which currently runs a clinic in Addis Ababa.  In 2006, he was recognized for his work in the Washington, D.C. community by being the seventh clergyperson to be inducted into The Washington D.C. Hall of Fame.

John wrote a popular book entitled The Business of the Church: The Uncomfortable Truth that Faithful MinistryRequires Effective Management.  He does extensive teaching, speaking, and consulting around the country on the topics of management of people, finances and facilities in the church.  He consults with congregations on strategic planning issues.John is married to Phyllis, a retired D.C public school teacher.  In the summer, he teaches the pottery wheel in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where he and his wife have a second home.

Books John Recommends

Generation to Generation 
- Edwin Friedman

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

  Daniel Pink