Todd Hiestand

Todd Hiestand

Field Notes on Leadership and Community in Suburban America

I work full-time as the Director of Nonprofit Development for Pure Charity. Before that, I was a pastor for 14 years at The Well in the Philly suburbs and now live in the suburbs of Portland, OR. I write about church, mission, leadership, faith & theology, life and other related things. Follow me on Twitter and stalk me on .

My Journey into Never Writing

April 9, 2015

I struggle as a writer. Wait, there are already problems here. I am not sure its fair to call myself a writer. I think it would be more accurate to call myself an “aspiring writer.” I mean, I do not really ever write. I am now, of course, but this is literally the first time I’ve intentionally sat down to write anything in the last three or four months. I think I have a good sense of what makes writing so hard for me. I am scared my writing sucks. Over the years I been told I am a good writer and I think that’s exactly what scares me to death about putting words together to make sentences and paragraphs. I still remember the first time I was...

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Open Your Door to the Problem of Racial Injustice

January 19, 2015

Dr. King once spoke the following words: “No American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door.” This is so very true. However, so very many of us in the world have become so very good at closing our front door and ignoring the pain, the injustice and the brokenness that is right on our front steps. We have been conditioned to seek a comfort above all things. But I believe this search for comfort can be an enemy to justice. It is this search that makes us close our doors and shut our eyes to the broken reality of our world. We’d rather live in our imaginary world of...

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Racist Like Me

December 1, 2014

I’m afraid it will never go away He walks into the coffee shop, by instinct I prepare myself for what he might do. I do not try and think this, It just happens. I’ve been taught this way of thinking since I was a child. It was rarely explicit, but constantly implicit. Black skinned men are dangerous, at least most of the time. 
White people are safe, at least most of the time Black man in a hoodie? Probably a gang member. White man in a hoodie? Probably a hipster. I can’t help it and i hate it. I see a black man on the street at night and I get nervous. Again, I wonder what is going to happen. I want to shove these...

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Pastors and All. The. Drama. Or, Why Pastoral Care Must Be Communal

November 6, 2014

I wrote a bit yesterday about how I have discovered that I don’t love the church just because I was a pastor. That said, the last few months of not being a pastor, has brought some areas of great relief. Let’s be honest, pastoring is not easy and I’m actively trying to pay attention to how I can support my pastors at our new church.  (Side note: It’s weird for me to say “my pastors” cause I haven’t necessarily had one of those for a long, long time. That’s a topic to unpack at a different date). One of the ways my life has changed is simple: There’s a lot less drama. I mean, a lot. less. drama. Which means there are a lot. less. people. talking. as. if. there. was....

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I am Not a Pastor and I Still Love the Church

November 4, 2014

So, for the first time in 18 years I have spent significant time not being a pastor, studying to be a pastor or hoping to one day be a pastor. Actually, let’s analyze the numbers and see how accurate this is: 3: The number of years I spent in high school youth group wanting to be a youth pastor. 4:  The number of years in Bible College I spent  preparing to be a real pastor. – 1:  The number years I spent doing whatever I could to not be a pastor. 13:  The number of years I spent actually being a pastor. So, for the first time in a long time I am a normal, non-pastor-church-going person. I pull no identity from some “ministry vocation.” I’m not in “full-time...

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We’re Moving to Portland, OR

June 23, 2014

For the last 14 years that we have been married my wife and I have been living in the Philadelphia area. If you count the 4 years at college, we’ve been here for 18 years. For 13 years we have been serving at The Well, our church here in Philly and its with a lot of bittersweet excitement that we are officially moving our family to Portland, OR.  We’ll be living in a town called Clackamas, which in the Southeast side of the city – I guess you could say we are “taking our talents to Southeast Portland”.  (See what I did there?) We have loved, loved, loved our community at The Well. With both of us originally being from out of town this community...

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Evangelism: Moving Beyond the Sex Talk

March 3, 2014

Now that we have a ten-year old boy in our house – and three more of his brothers coming after him – we’ve begun thinking about how to talk with our kids about sex, girls, puberty, etc. You know, the fun stuff of parenthood. One of our friends who has raised fairly-well adjusted adult boys told us a while ago that the best way to have the “sex talk” was to not make it a “talk” at all. That is, it shouldn’t be something that you approach as a specific, planned BIG conversation. It should be a natural part of the conversation in your home. Yes even at the dinner table if that’s how it happens. Sex isn’t something to be ashamed about and treated...

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Daring Greatly at BarCamp Philly

November 8, 2013

I’m revisiting Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly for a short talk I’m doing at Barcamp Philly tomorrow morning. I’m calling the session “Vulnerability Practice“. I’m going to  give a brief overview of the book and share my own story of my journey in to daring to live a more vulnerable life. Then I’m going to open up the room for people to take a chance and be vulnerable. Really, I’m not sure if it will work because the room will be full of strangers.  I think it could be a really powerful time, or it could totally bomb and I’ll stand there like a fool – I’m fine either way really. I’m not expecting people to share their deepest secrets with a group of strangers...

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My Prayer for the Church

October 23, 2013

My prayer for the church is that we would be a communities of people who understand the grace and peace of the only one who can truly give grace and bring peace. And that as we receive that grace, peace and the hope and salvation that comes with it, we would proclaim it boldly to a world longing for hope – knowing that it is God who works to make our best efforts successful and our worst efforts redemptive.

When God Gives You a Push

September 8, 2013

“Sometimes God calls you into new things, sometimes God pushes you into new things..” This was my dad’s response to me as I shared with him some of the questions I was asking related to my vocational and occupational life. It became clear that this was one of those instances where God was pushing, and he was pushing pretty hard. Since 2001 I have been on pastoral staff at The Well, our church community in Feasterville, a suburb of the wonderful city of Philadelphia. In 2006 I became the Lead Pastor and have been serving in that role ever since. Over the course of these last 12 years, I have been privileged to be a leader in a pretty amazing little church community. By God’s...

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