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[Relisten] Rediscovering church with Jerry Herships: Compass 115

Reverend Jerry Herships shares his unique perspective on creating a nontraditional community that connects with something bigger and provides a sense of belonging.

Jerry has worked as stand-up comedian. He wrote for Jay Leno. He’s authored a couple books, including Last Call: from serving drinks to serving Jesus and Rogue Saints: Spirituality for Good Hearted Heathens. Jerry is one of the founders of AfterHours Denver--a unique expression of church reaching outside of the traditional meeting places.

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Episode notes

In this episode:
(02:37) Challenges with after-hours gathering: focus on Christ-likeness, reaching out to marginalized, fostering dialogue and community.
(07:10) Summary: Jesus aligns with marginalized and voiceless people. Our community supports the homeless in giving them voice and friendship.
(10:08) People seek connection and tribe, regardless of faith.
(14:29) "Discovering personal connections to the sacred"
(17:22) Being a good Christian requires effort and connection.
(21:02) Monks prove it's hard without church.
(25:11) Pastor connects with community, emphasizes togetherness.
(29:30) Morning rituals are unavoidable but can evolve.
(33:06) Pub conversation about church connection and service.
(37:48) Rocky Mountains have high suicide rates due to access to guns and lack of mental healthcare.
(39:26) Importance of entering our space and listening.
(44:04) Explore more

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This episode posted on August 9, 2023

Episode Transcript

Ryan Dunn [00:00:01]:

Welcome to another episode of Compass finding Spirituality in the Everyday. Once again, we're jumping back a few years on this episode of Compass. The summer months present an opportunity to dig through the vault of the Compass podcast and shine some new light on an early episode that still really brings inspiration and clarity to our present day. My name is Ryan Dunn. Pierced Rake was with me on this episode from the past, and together Pierce and I talked with Reverend Jerry Herships. This was back in 2019. The question at hand was, what is church? And Reverend Jerry's thoughts really serve as some inspiration for us to imagine the kind of community that church can be. We're now four years removed from this conversation, but Reverend Jerry is still at it in this conversation, he talks about moving to a new ministry position while he's now moved on from that ministry position and is back in Denver. And it sounds like he's plugging right back into After Hours Denver, the creative church expression that he started and that we'll learn all about in this conversation. Besides founding After Hours, Jerry has worked as a stand up comedian. He wrote for Jay Leno. He's authored a couple books including Last Call from Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus and Rogue Saints spirituality for Good Hearted Heathens. And actually, I think that latter book had just released around the time of this recorded conversation. So let's get back into it. Exploring the nature of church with Reverend Jerry Herships on the Compass podcast. Jerry Herships is with us. Jerry, thanks so much for joining us. How's it going?

Jerry Herships [00:01:44]:

Thanks for having me on.

Pierce Drake [00:01:45]:


Jerry Herships [00:01:45]:

It is wet and cloudy here in Denver, but besides that, everything else is good.

Ryan Dunn [00:01:50]:

Cool. Well, we want to throw on like the journalistic gloves to start this thing off because read your book, Rogue Saints. It's wonderful. Within the book, you're just a little bit critical of some of the ways that church is organized or the ways that we execute church.

Pierce Drake [00:02:09]:

That was passive aggressive, Ryan.

Ryan Dunn [00:02:10]:

That was very passive aggressive. My name wasn't mentioned anywhere, so I'm.

Pierce Drake [00:02:14]:

All good with it.

Ryan Dunn [00:02:15]:

But Piers and I have answered this question in past episodes. Go back to episode one. But Jerry, why are you a part of church?

Jerry Herships [00:02:24]:

That's an excellent question. And when you say you mean me personally, why did I decide not to chuck the whole thing?

Ryan Dunn [00:02:30]:

Yeah. Why do you do what you do on? Well, when your community gets you know.

Jerry Herships [00:02:37]:

I think one of the challenges with after hours getting together is we really have one guiding question that we ask, and we've asked it from the beginning, and that is we hold everything up to the mirror that says, is this thing that we're about to do or any piece of this thing we're about to do going to make us or lead us towards being more like Christ like for us? It is. And I grew up and people have heard this before and I wrote this in the know I grew up Catholic and I'm actually very down with ritual and liturgy and I grew up with that and did Mass six. Days a week and was pretty hardcore Irish Catholic Belfast grandmother guy. And I didn't know any different or any and so that became sort of my embedded theology. And when it's done really well, I really, like, think, you know, somebody like Richard Rohr would that's a way to really connect to your soul for after hours. The folks, they're sort of at the last stop before they choose to chuck it all. I mean there's an amalgam of people that are we have some traditional church folks that do church regular, church regular in quotes church on Sunday and then they come to after us on Monday. But the vast majority of them are folks that are like welders and truck drivers and strippers and cops and folks that say I never felt really comfortable. Whether it was deliberate or not, I was sort of othered in the traditional church setting and so I want to come to something that focuses primarily on relationship and community. And so we only have a few beats to our service. We make food for the homeless and that's sort of our service within a service. That's our call to worship. And then I talk for a few minutes and then after ten or 15 minutes I throw it to them and say maybe he's full of crap. What do you guys think at their tables? I have said more than once, I think the day of the usually still to this day dominant middle aged, white, straight male guy talking at a crowd of people and saying sit down, shut up, you might learn something here. I think that's over. I don't know if that connects us to the holy in the same way that being in conversation and dialogue and watching people go yeah, I struggle with that too and having that back and forth really brings up a lot more interesting fruit, so to speak. And then at the end we find out what the high points of their week were and the low points which I guess real church, traditional church would call joys and concerns. Then I say go home and then no one. So for us those beats of being a better follower is how do we serve the people beyond this room? How do we try to learn something about God that maybe we didn't know before? And then how are we a community for each other? Not just the homeless out there but the folks inside these four walls. And really listen. We always start with a quote from Paul Tillich and says the first duty of love is to listen. And it just kind of sets the mood to remind that this isn't extra, this matters. And so listen because people are sharing their heart and that to me is church. And the fact that there's a community of people that want to do that, I thank God for every day. I mean, we lucked out there.

Pierce Drake [00:06:16]:

You said something on the very beginning of that that I want you to expand on. And I think it's just simply because of the day and age that we live in. I think one you talked about later, the white straight males standing up talking, I think the days are over, and I think you're writing a lot of aspects of that. And I think those who would identify under those categories, which that's mean, I think we're waking up to that, and it's a good thing to wake up to. Yeah, but you said centered on. So, you know, as I scroll through Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or whatever, everybody is claiming Jesus in some know. And so from the far right to the far left are claiming Jesus and so not getting political. But when you say Jesus centered on Jesus, what's the thing that you're thinking about in that context?

Jerry Herships [00:07:10]:

I think that reveals a lot about a community or a faith leader's theology is just that one question is to say, who is God in our context? Who is Jesus? And to me, Jesus was the one that always chose to align with those on the margins. Jesus was always the one that who is the powerless? Who are the people that don't have voice, who are the ones that have shed all the tears, who have had their tongues ripped out and who need friends? And I think our community has aligned with the homeless community specifically because they have, in most communities, been kicked to the curb. And so for us to, quote, be like Jesus has been to, how is it that we align with folks in that scenario? And there's tons of other categories of those that's just one that rings true for this particular group of people, and how do we give them voice? How do we be in community with them and not be there and go, all right, settle down. We're here to save you. Enjoy your lunch. And no, we don't want to actually talk to you. Heaven forbid we learn your name. We'd rather just serve you and then feel good about how awesome we mean. We really try early on to make it really clear that that's not what we're about, that we almost always ryan, you're friends with me on facebook. And you could see the number of times when I leave the park, how often I'm posting about the gift they gave me.

Ryan Dunn [00:08:50]:

That oh, there goes Jerry again. Must be Tuesday. Jerry's got some kind of brag. He's crying over something.

Pierce Drake [00:08:56]:

That's awesome.

Jerry Herships [00:08:59]:

It's stunning to me how often they bring me to tears. It happens with ridiculous frequency, and I think that's what happens, at least my experience, when we're with the margin people on the margins, the others rather than do things to them. I think they still benefit, they'd still get the sandwich, but I don't know if that's engaging with them the way Christ would. And we're about trying to be like that.

Pierce Drake [00:09:33]:


Ryan Dunn [00:09:33]:

With after hours, you have a couple of different expressions. So there's a group that meets together for kind of like a more I mean, I guess it's a structured time. It's like your equivalent of a worship service, what most of us would understand as a worship service. And then there's the aspect where you prepare sandwiches and then the next day you go out and you give those lunches to folks. As folks are showing up at your Monday night gathering, are they coming because they're looking for Jesus or are they looking for something else?

Jerry Herships [00:10:08]:

We have a number of people that come to after hours that would identify self identify as agnostic, some that would identify as atheist, a number that would identify as Catholic. I mean, not even Christian. They've been Catholic their whole while. You know, when you explain that to somebody early on, it's like, well, aren't Catholics Christian? Well, yeah, they are, but not our flavor. But sort of like it but they believe the Pope's the top of mean it gets a little convoluted, but they definitely would also come there. And I think what people are searching for and I tried to make this point and I don't know if I was successful in rogue Saints is I think people are starving for a tribe and starving for connecting to something bigger than themselves. Now, those two things can be done outside of a Christ centered community, but that's what we're there for. We don't apologize. I think sometimes there's the assumption that we are going to get together and just drink beer and make sandwiches. And I would challenge any church that I think we mentioned Wesley and Jesus as much, if not more than most, because, you know, I'm probably a pretty crappy pastor in the sense that I'm not one of those guys that goes, you know no, you have to believe that this is the only way and that this is the only guy. I'm not that guy. What I do say is, look, I've lived my life all my life early on as a Catholic. I left for ten years. I didn't set foot in a church, and I came back. And what I know is when I choose to follow this guy, my life is better. When I choose to look at that architecture or hang my hat on the person that was Jesus, I tend to do better than if I go, Nah, I'll just be a good guy. Being a good guy is good. Not for me. I mean, I slip pretty quick. It's like saying, yeah, you know what? We should all work out. We should all be healthy. Yeah, we should, but I'm much better when I go, no, I'm going to get on the treadmill and get off at 4 miles. I need that structure. I don't know if everybody does and I think that's got to be one of the first things that the church is willing to say is that, look, I don't know if I'm going to want to shove this down your throat, but I will tell you that for me this has worked. And yet I know some Buddhists that they live this amazingly compassionate, beautiful life and who am I to tell them, well, yeah, but that's bullshit. That's not really the right way. The right way is my way. I think that turns off more people than it brings in. And like at after hours, a number of folks have said, look, the reason I like it here is one, I'm given permission to ask hard questions and I'm not shamed. And two, that I don't even need to get the answer in quotes the answer. I just need to find safe space to ask the question. And three, you're not going to force that. This is the only way. I just don't think that has proven to be productive. I don't think that track record has not worked for me. And there's some very big churches that use fear in a great way and God bless them, but I don't think that's a win in the long game. I think that's a win in short time. And so we try not to use that method either.

Ryan Dunn [00:13:53]:

We've dropped Rogue Saints, the book, a couple of times into this conversation. And in the book you detail the accounts of a bunch of people who you've come across who are expressing their faith in surprising ways. Really? Kind of. I mean, people who are expressing their Christian faith in surprising ways. You even mentioned that some of the folks who are participating in this would probably call themselves agnostic, although what we're seeing in evidence is that they're Christians. So what makes somebody a Christian?

Jerry Herships [00:14:29]:

The way I define that might be different than some know. So at the beginning of every chapter, I put out an open call on Facebook and said, look, if you connect to the holy, the sacred, the bigger than in some way other than corporate worship, other than a traditional formatted, structured thing, then shoot me a message and tell me what that thing is and we'll see. And I got a huge response and it was great. We ended up knocking it down to I think there's six chapters in the book and I think there's six people there's a few, more than six. Some lead off the chapters and some are throughout the chapters. But what I didn't expect was that every single person that I profiled was a clergy person. People that actually lead corporate worship, the thing that touches their soul in a very different way than corporate worship is this other activity that they have. And there was only one of the people interviewed that wasn't clergy, and they were married to a clergy person. I was like, I did not see that coming because I didn't select them based on that. I selected them on how varied are these activities that they connect to the sacred with. And for me, I was very deliberate in saying these were things that connected them to something bigger than themselves and not, say, connected you to Jesus Christ or to this particular deity or this particular person that we choose to worship. I think there's a difference between being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and I'm of the camp that, look, everybody gets their ticket punched, everybody's going to get into heaven, so you can let that other thing go, and you don't have to worry about that. There's nothing you can do that's going to make God love you more. There's nothing you can do that's going to make God love you less. Let that piece go because grace covers that, so you're fine. But what is that thing that connects you when you're doing it? You're like, Man, I'm not saying this is true for everybody, but when I go surfing, something happens. When I'm playing music, when I'm running, when I'm doing yoga or horseback riding, there is a specific thing that's different than when I do other activities, even other activities I enjoy. But there's something about this that makes it special. I'd put that in one bucket, but in the other bucket of what makes someone a Christian. I think for a long time, people were know, you move into a neighborhood and they're know, what do I need to know? Well, across the street of the Johnsons, good people, they go to church every Sunday, huge Christians. And that became sort of the defining factor. Right.

Ryan Dunn [00:17:17]:

The measuring stick. Know how often you are at a certain place on a morning?

Jerry Herships [00:17:22]:

Yeah, yeah. You go to a certain place at a certain time on a certain day and listen to a certain person say certain things, and then you could check the box. It made you a good Christian. While I think everybody gets their ticket punch and everybody goes to heaven, that's all fine. You can let go of the guilt of being good. You know, Brene Brown would call it hustling for your know, hustling for your worth. You can let that go. But the question of whether you want to call yourself a Christian, which means to me, I am going to try to live like this guy not as easy. You don't get off the hook. That easy to me. And after hours, I think, is this even on our website? Like, you know, following Jesus is simple. It's just not easy. And too often we want to take the easy route. And the easy route is you show up to a building, you don't have to do anything. We've created a consumer product. Peter Rollins talks about church's, crack house, and I mean, we've created this thing know, come and get your fix and listen to the great music and the great words, and you're going to feel better, at least in the short term, much like if you were to be on alcohol or drugs. But you're not really dealing with your problems. You're not really dealing with the heavy stuff because you're just sitting and listening nine times out of ten. And to deal with stuff, you have to share, you have to emote, you have to go through those emotions. So I think to be a good Christian, you really have to be willing to make that connection. And I think that's simple, but it sure as hell ain't easy. It's really hard to bear your soul and to sit there and go, Look, I am struggling. I mean, the number of people that are brene Brown again would say, we've never been this in debt, we've never been this addicted, we've never been this overweight, and yet we think we've got it all figured out. And I think we're starving for this connection to something bigger and this connection to other people, and not just rogue saints deals with that, but after hours as a community does as well. Those are, I think, our major points that we want to be able to say we did at the end of.

Ryan Dunn [00:19:43]:

The night, you mentioned that being a Christian is living after or following after trying to be like, this guy, this guy being Jesus, which I think is a wonderful working definition. And I might even disagree with you, Jerry, in saying that while people might argue with my definition, I think that's a pretty tough one to argue with.

Pierce Drake [00:20:06]:

No matter where you stand theologically, that's the of a we, Ryan and myself come out of a Methodist background. Wesley is all about your where's your soul pointed. It's not about crossing a line necessarily, and it's not we we would have different viewpoints on innovation, but as Wesley talks about it's, like where's your soul pointed, not are you in the box or outside of the box?

Jerry Herships [00:20:38]:

That idea of using your faith as.

Pierce Drake [00:20:40]:

A company exactly point you in a.

Jerry Herships [00:20:43]:

Certain direction, and if it's serving that purpose, then where you are on the path is not as important as the direction.

Pierce Drake [00:20:51]:

100%. So with that understanding of kind of faith and your understanding of it, can you do faith without community? Can those things coexist?

Jerry Herships [00:21:02]:

Yeah, I think you can. I think the desert fathers proved that. I think that there are monks that are able to do those things. I just think it's harder. I just think it's like, really hard. I think Jesus never said, make sure. In fact, it's so, you know, we talk about afters being a faith community and there's just so much baggage with the word church and even the idea of gathering even it's hard to even come up with another name on our web page and stuff. And other places will say, we get together. We gather. The idea of saying we worship feels like there are so many churches across the country and world, and there's no way to say this without it possibly sounding insulting, and I don't mean it to, but that do something really well that need not be done. And Jesus never said, make sure you get together, especially once a week, ideally on this day or this time, but actually, it doesn't even matter. Just make sure you get together and tell me how great I am. Just continually tell me I'm awesome. Just treat me like your boyfriend. Jesus, you're the greatest. God, you're the bestest Jesus ever. You're the most best Jesus, and I would do anything for you. Good, because we need some people to go to Haiti. Well, not that I only have so much vacation time, but anything else I would do for you because you're the best. And I think Jesus goes, I get it. But I think if any of us had somebody constantly tell us how awesome we were, didn't do anything, we would start to question, and you and I sure as hell ain't Jesus if we're bright enough to figure that out. Don't we think that Jesus is smart enough to know they talk about it all the time. And they even get together in these million dollar facilities and create this whole thing of different ways to tell me I'm awesome, but they stepped over a homeless guy to get well, I think.

Pierce Drake [00:23:15]:

It'S where you get all the pushback in our faith. Like history with the Book of James, right?

Jerry Herships [00:23:23]:

Yeah. I mean, for after hours people, I think in general, they know that what they're doing is they're coming to a place to investigate their faith and to look into what it is that they're struggling with or that they have questions for. But it's very laid back. It's not going to be one of these million dollar facilities. And quite frankly, I think for a lot of them, that's the appeal. The appeal is that it's not actually you and I were talking before we went on the air, and you were talking about the guy that does the podcast that has one that is really quality and then the other one where he just clicks on the mic and goes, I think we live in a time that people genuinely appreciate the authenticity over the Polish, even when it's something like, hey, folks, guess what? The recorder turned off. Sorry. But that happened because I think people generally go, you know what? Yeah, that happens. Like, that happens to me, and it's nice. I think there's a disconnect when we try to make anything too perfect. And my background was as a performer, and I think there's value in presenting a quality product. It gets a little dicey when the product is God, when the product Jesus, who came at this world with such an authenticity and a genuine desire to connect. It's a struggle when that is laid on top of. All right, make sure as soon as the congregation stops applauding, you're already walking up to the mic because we don't want any dead air between the pastoral prayer and the our.

Pierce Drake [00:25:11]:

You'Re I think you're hitting on two things there, Jerry, and why things are going well out there. I think, one, you're a pastor that's actually doing community with the community that you're a part many I'm guilty of it myself in days. But how often have we seen pastors who man, they're leading incredibly, but they don't know anyone, right? They know their director of operations. They know that guy girl. But man, tell me somebody that's in the pews or in the seats. And so I think that is a huge thing, regardless of however large or small I think that is, regardless of the point the church is or the community is that, hey, we're going to do it together and I'm going to be in it. So here's what's going to happen. If I'm going to be in this with you, you're going to see my stuff too, right? You're going to see my stuff. We being Jesus people, we've centered on Him for us. He really didn't have says, yeah, Paul says, I come with my weakness, Jesus weakness. But what Jesus does do is he's around the table all the time, right? And he's breaking bread.

Jerry Herships [00:26:36]:

He had a hierarchy of people. He was fine being with kings and rulers and equally fine being with prostitutes and tax collectors and zealots and that's fresh and really appealing, especially in our society now when we have managed to quantify relationships like, okay, is this person worthy of my time right now? I don't know. Jesus was really no like, everybody can come to this table. We'll all hang know, there's a great Oscar Wilde quote that said, every saint has a past, every sinner has a future. And I love the fact that it is a phrase that sort of levels the table. It's like, look, and I think Jesus was big at that. Jesus was really big at know, you're all welcome and let's share stories. Let's share stories. Let's do that after hours. Sure, I guess we could do it without food and drink, but I just think that sharing a meal cuts across virtually every time zone, every culture, and it's just a great lubricant for helping break people open and get to a place that's deeper.

Ryan Dunn [00:27:55]:

Part of what makes any community I mean, not just a spiritual community, but any community. What gives it identity is ritual. So is sharing that meal, is that part of your ritual of after hours? Is there a ritual to after hours?

Jerry Herships [00:28:13]:

Yeah, I think we've actually a lot of discussion about this at after hours because I said, I know we sort of pride ourselves as being these sort of rogues and rebels. This sort of island of Misfit Toys, and we just kind of go to our own drummer and blah. There's an element of that that's really true, and there's no question. Having said that, there's also a part that goes, okay, let's try to do an after hours and have me start by going, yeah, you know what? This week we're not going to make sandwiches. I'll just go and get like a foot long before I go down to the park. But we're just going to eliminate that part. It would hit the fan and they wouldn't know why exactly. They're just like, well, that's what we do. And I'm like, okay, well, we'll make sandwiches, but tonight I'm just not going to talk. We'll just see how you guys are doing. They go, what do you mean? I didn't really prepare anything. And we're not going to have any conversation at all. We're just going to go straight to joys and concerns and our highs and lows, people would go, well, what the hell? We came here to learn. So I go, okay, you're right, let's have the conversation. Let's go ahead and make the sandwiches.

Ryan Dunn [00:29:21]:

I want to make sure I'm hearing this. So even in a community, like after hours, the ghost of church pass still shows up and saying, we've always done it this way.

Jerry Herships [00:29:30]:

And you know what? And it's unavoidable. If you look over your morning, this morning, nobody broke out the glory of pottery, at least I don't think so in your home. But you know what? You got up and you did a thing, and then you let the dog out and you did a thing, and then you, okay, do I turn on the shower and brush my teeth and then put on my contacts, or do I put on my contacts, brush my teeth, and then turn on the shower? Well, no, for me, I turn on the shower and let the water heat up. And you know what I'm doing? That's my ritual. That's my morning ritual, and we can't avoid it now. I will say in nine years, after hours has had prayer stations, and then we didn't. And then we had written prayer requests, and then we didn't. And then we had a final song that we all sang together, and then we didn't. And then we have music from my ipod, and then we did communion at every location, and then we stopped and only do it at one location. So I think the key is not to apologize for ritual, but to also say, are we serving the rituals or ritual serving us? Does this still have meaning for us? That to me, is kind of a big deal. I think too often ritual becomes, well, that's just the way we've always done it. And I think for folks, that may be the initial trigger when they go, this feels weird, but to really ask the question, well, why? And sometimes there's not a good reason, and. When I look at the changes that we've made yeah, you know what, it worked at a particular time and place. It doesn't work anymore for us to do it that way.

Pierce Drake [00:31:04]:

I think part of that is what you're saying is there are things that we have always done right and there's things that have come and gone. For me, when I hear those things, I think about our church context, our community context. Those things that never leave are a part of the DNA and the vision of the community. And the things that come and go have been things that have brought up and brought to life part of those core things. And then they left and we brought them up in a different way.

Jerry Herships [00:31:34]:

Yes, that's an excellent way to put it. There's the DNA and then there's the things that express the DNA.

Pierce Drake [00:31:42]:


Jerry Herships [00:31:42]:

And I don't think there's much of a problem with changing the expressions of the DNA. It's when you mess with the DNA, I think it would be like I said, we've had a lot of changes, but if somebody came in, there's going to be a new pastor July 1. And I think the reality is they're going to change things, and they should it will work different for them. But I think at the core of the DNA, if they said, yeah, you know what, so screw the homeless, we're not going to really do that's. Like at the core of our DNA is to be with those folks who are on the street in that context, that would be messing with the DNA, to sit there and go, hey, are you guys cool if we make the sandwiches at the end? And then I think people would go, yeah, I don't know if we've ever done it that way. Let's try that. I think they're two very different things. I think you hit it right on the head.

Ryan Dunn [00:32:42]:

It sounds like with after hours, the folks who come, like, very few of them are looking for church, but they are looking for the things that we encounter in church that even, dare I say that church provides community and support. Do the folks at after hours, do they know that they're a part of church?

Jerry Herships [00:33:06]:

I had a conversation with one of the guys who's one of our places is an Irish pub, and the guy came up to me because he heard about me moving, and I'm going to be in a new location come July 1. And I told him that the bishop appointed me, and he's got this thick Irish broken. He's like, Jesus Christ, jerry, what do you mean your bishop you're appointed? He goes, you got a bishop? I didn't even know you had a bishop. He goes, I just thought you were he goes, you got a collar, Jerry. You're a priest. Well, I said, I'm clergy. I'm ordained. And so do the people that come know that we're a faith community. Absolutely. Apparently our landlord didn't know. He literally said he goes, I just thought you guys were doing great know, I didn't realize that it was like a formal thing, which was really a crack up. And Alan is, I'm pretty certain, hardcore Irish Catholic. And so of course, to him, this looked nothing like church. Of course this wasn't church. He knows what church is. You got to genuflect and cross yourself, where's your robe? Yeah, I mean, there was nothing that looked like that, but I would say the people I think you phrased it well I think the people that come are looking for what good churches do and they are looking for that authentic connection where they can both connect to something bigger than themselves and connect to other people. I think that connection is really the through part. And for after hours, the way that we do that in an intentional way is through service. And so for us, it's that those are the three points that we try to hit every time is how do we connect to something bigger, how do we connect to each other? And how do we connect in a way that provides service to the wider community? And I think as far as guidelines, that served us pretty well. And I also believe after hours is much more it's a much younger community than I am. It's probably 25 and probably 27 to 37 is probably the sweet spot for 90% of the folks that come. And I think in that age group, there's a real sense of I really need to be a part of it. In the quadrilateral, for us Methodists, there's that piece, that's experience, and they really need to see that there's experience attached to the theology and to the scripture and to the ritual. There has to be that experience component. And I know for a lot of folks, they wouldn't care if I was an ordained clergy or not, and they wouldn't care how well I knew the Bible. They want to know, hey, are you rolling up your sleeves? Are you getting hands dirty? Because that's what we want to do. And I think that's where the value lies for a lot of them and to be able to have a place to share their life and the highs and lows.

Ryan Dunn [00:36:12]:

Well, you mentioned that your time at after hours is kind of drawing into a new phase or a different phase. I don't want to say that it's ending because we know that it doesn't necessarily work that way. But you are going to another church. You've been appointed to another church. So any bold predictions about what you're going to do up in know, I.

Jerry Herships [00:36:37]:

Don'T know if I would say bold predictions. I think if I'm true to what I'm saying, if I'm actually living what I profess, it would not be to go into Aspen, which is where I'm going to be appointed. And the optics couldn't look worse, a pastor serving the poor on the streets moves to minister to millionaires. But if I was going to any other church is to go in and go, okay, here's what I know works. We feed the homeless, and that's the way we're going to do it. Because to me, I'm a big fan of Missional Church over sort of an attractional church model. And I think with a Missional Church, you go into community and you say, where are your needs? This community not the one I've just done. What are the needs of this community? And for example, I didn't know this until within the know, week or the the Aspen area has, I think it's three, four, five times the number of suicides than the national average.

Ryan Dunn [00:37:48]:


Jerry Herships [00:37:48]:

And it's ragingly fascinating to sit there and think, really, this is a place where the median home price is $6 million. There's gorgeousness everywhere you look. The town is as quaint as you could possibly have. What in the world? And so for me, it's worth examining saying, well, what are the services that are provided? And it's not just Aspen, it's actually the entire Rocky Mountains. The top ten states with the highest suicide rate are all in the Rocky Mountains, except for Alaska. They even have a horrible nickname. But there's the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt. They call it the suicide Belt, and they attribute it to the fact that there's lots of open plains, there's lots of there's honestly, and not to be political, but there's really easy access to guns, and there's very little mental health care because the communities are so spread out. So you've got no help. You've got access to firearms, you have isolation. When you put it all together, you go, no, I see that. That may not be the thing, but that's one of the things I've recently seen that may change. I also know that there are people craving community everywhere you go, and I think I'm pretty good at doing nontraditional community, so there may be something brewing up there. We'll see how that all plays out. I've got to go in and sit out and shut up and list to the community first before I make any grand schemes like that.

Ryan Dunn [00:39:25]:

Yeah, no doubt.

Pierce Drake [00:39:26]:

I think the takeaway for all of us at the end of the day and now at the end of the podcast is how do we enter our space? And what we've learned from you today and thank you, is how do we enter our space and listen and just figure out what the common felt need is and then respond to and for us that center our lives on Jesus. We think those are Jesus principles. If you don't believe in Jesus but still like the principles, you still got it.

Jerry Herships [00:39:57]:

There's a beauty in the idea. What is countercultural about Jesus is Jesus always ran towards the pain.

Pierce Drake [00:40:06]:

That's right.

Jerry Herships [00:40:06]:

Ignore my 1950s phone thing is awesome.

Pierce Drake [00:40:11]:

For those listening. There's a phone on a wall and there's a cord that can reach to the bathroom. Three bedrooms down.

Jerry Herships [00:40:19]:

Put a quarter in to make a call from my own house.

Pierce Drake [00:40:22]:

Every time I use it, sometimes he picks it up and goes, wilma, will you connect me? Will you connect get me Barney down at the exactly.

Jerry Herships [00:40:33]:


Pierce Drake [00:40:34]:

Nobody knows I'm talking about Andy Griffith.

Jerry Herships [00:40:36]:

Right now, but for the love of.

Ryan Dunn [00:40:46]:

God, I love it.

Pierce Drake [00:40:49]:

Our time is up, people. Our time is up.

Jerry Herships [00:40:52]:

I need to grab that. Because Jesus waits for no.

Ryan Dunn [00:40:55]:

So all right, Jerry, we're going to tell them where's your preferred place that people get a hold of you online?

Jerry Herships [00:41:00]:

Yeah, no, the best place is I would say after, but that may only be up until the end of the month. My email is God doesn't suck at. If anybody just anybody just texts or shoots me an email to God Doesn't Suck at Gmail, it'll go right to My.

Ryan Dunn [00:41:22]:

So cool, Jerry. Thank you so much. We'll tell people how to get a.

Pierce Drake [00:41:26]:

Hold of the book.

Ryan Dunn [00:41:27]:

It's not written just for church people. I think we need to throw that in there.

Jerry Herships [00:41:30]:

Yeah, it's specifically not written for church people.

Ryan Dunn [00:41:34]:

Completed with we got to throw in the caveat that there's, like, drink recipes in it and all that stuff, too.

Jerry Herships [00:41:40]:

Yeah, there are. Yes. My years of bartending paying off.

Ryan Dunn [00:41:44]:

Well, thank you so much for joining us.

Jerry Herships [00:41:46]:

This was great. Ryan, thanks for having me on. I appreciate you guys. Thank you.

Pierce Drake [00:41:49]:

Take care, man.

Jerry Herships [00:41:50]:

Thanks. See you, brothers. Bye.

Ryan Dunn [00:41:51]:

Thanks, everybody, for joining us on this edition of the Compass Podcast. I want to thank Andrew Jensen and Dan McConnell for doing our technical stuff, and Lane Denson, who makes sure that this podcast is released to the world at large. You can find the Compass [email protected] slash podcast and through the social media platforms. My name is Ryan Dunn. I'm available through Twitter and Ryan is dunn.

Pierce Drake [00:42:18]:

That's good. That's incredible. My name is Pierce Drake. You can find me at Jpdii, on Twitter or on Instagram. Hit me up.

Ryan Dunn [00:42:26]:

All right, we're done.

Jerry Herships [00:42:32]:

Put a quarter in to make a call from my own house.

Pierce Drake [00:42:36]:

Every time I use it, sometimes he picks it up and goes, wilma, will you connect me? Will you connect get me Barney down at the exactly.

Jerry Herships [00:42:47]:


Pierce Drake [00:42:48]:

Nobody knows I'm talking about Andy Griffith, right?

Jerry Herships [00:42:58]:

Oh, for the love of God.

Ryan Dunn [00:43:01]:

I love it.

Pierce Drake [00:43:02]:

Our time is up, people. Our time is up.

Jerry Herships [00:43:06]:

I need to grab that. Because Jesus waits for no.

Ryan Dunn [00:43:09]:

So all right, Jerry, we're going to tell them where's your preferred place that people get a hold of you online?

Jerry Herships [00:43:14]:

Yeah, no, the best place is I would say after hours, but that may only until the end of the month. My email is God Doesn't Suck at if anybody just texts or shoots me an email to God Doesn't suck at Gmail. It'll go right to my so cool.

Ryan Dunn [00:43:37]:

Jerry, thank you so much. We'll tell people how to get a.

Pierce Drake [00:43:40]:

Hold of the book.

Ryan Dunn [00:43:40]:

It's not written just for church people. I think we need to throw that in there.

Jerry Herships [00:43:44]:

Yeah, it's specifically not written for church people.

Ryan Dunn [00:43:48]:

Completed with we got to throw in the caveat that there's like, drink recipes in it and all that stuff, too.

Jerry Herships [00:43:54]:

Yeah, there are. Yes. My years of bartending paying off.

Ryan Dunn [00:43:57]:

Well, thank you so much for joining us.

Jerry Herships [00:44:00]:

This was great. Ryan, thanks for having me on. I appreciate you guys. Thank you.

Pierce Drake [00:44:02]:

Take care, man.

Ryan Dunn [00:44:04]:

Thanks for taking this journey back in time with us. If you want to check out more Compass, some good follow up episodes include a fresh look at Radical Jesus with Damon Garcia. That's from August of 2022, and I think episode 111, about seven reasons why people are leaving church. That would interest you as well. While you're listening, leave a rating and or review. The Compass podcast is brought to you by United Methodist communications. And we'll be back with a brand spanking new episode in two weeks. Chat at you then. Peace.

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