Chris Yaw Interviews Tom Tewell: Exegete Your Congregation

Taken with permission from

'Exegete' means to interpret - and long-time Presbyterian pastor and consultant Tom Tewell says this is what congregations need to do in their neighborhoods - to interpret what God is doing there.

Tewell, who heads Macedonian Ministries of the CF Foundation (here's a link to some of their recent work), says that the simple act of gathering your church leaders together and walking (or driving) around the neighborhood watching, listening, and praying, can have an incredible impact.

Learn from this compassionate pastor and his thoughtful 35 years of ministry experience.


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Tom Tewell says plugging into the local neighborhood is a key to revitalizing congregations.

Exegeting the Community

Tewell says have the church board bring pads of paper and take notes on everything they see - like the group that noticed the high number of dog walkers and sponsored a one-day dog festival (the Dog Days of Summer), with great success.

Macedonian Ministries

Tewell burned out of congregational ministry not long ago, leading him to his new full-time job, a project that bring mainline clergy together into groups 8 (and growing) around the country for refreshment and renewal.

Why They Don't Grow

Tewell quotes CS Lewis who famously said our familiar captivity is more comfortable than an unknown freedom. How effective are we at getting out of our comfort zones?

About Tom Tewell

The Rev. Dr. Thomas K. Tewell has been an ordained Presbyterian Minister for over 35 years and has served congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas and New York. Each of the congregations Tom has served has experienced significant numerical, spiritual and financial growth and has become deeply involved in ministry to the local community.

Dr. Tewell is the recipient of numerous awards for his preaching and social ministry to a world in need. He is the recipient of the Inter Faith Service Award for starting a ministry to persons with A.I.D.S. in Houston, Texas and the Social Ministry Award from the Council of Churches of the City of New York for his work with the homeless.    His sermons and articles have in published in Christian Century, Christianity Today and numerous clergy journals, as well as in books on preaching. Tom is a graduate of Muskingum University in Ohio, Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Drew Theological School in New Jersey. Tom and his wife Suzanne, a pre-school teacher and educator, have been married for 40 years and they have two married sons and four grand-children.

Books Tom Recommends

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations  by Robert Schnase

Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field  by Paul Borden

Not Your Parents' Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship  by J. Clif Christopher