The Master & His Workshop

I remember first walking into my friend Andrew’s new workshop, housed in a colonial-style barn and situated on an expansive wooded acreage on the Eastern Seaboard. 

Think Bob Villa and “This Old House”!

The barn had been refurbished to include a small, but warmly lit office with windows facing inwards towards the workshop and outwards to take in the surrounding forest, a large tulip tree, red oaks, sweet birch, and black spruce that formed the periphery of the south side of the barn. 

The shop itself was adeptly laid out, dust collection system with HEPA filtration and all of the woodworking machinery strategically located. 

Anchored in the middle of the shop was the table saw. Like a beautiful kitchen island with a granite countertop, it drew in one’s gaze. Along the wall, a band saw standing guard. On the benches and tables, a jointer, planer, milling machine, router, circular and miter saws, and sanders: belt and drum. 

There was an assortment of chisels, hand tools, a variety of different-sized clamps, and a myriad of other instruments in their proper places. 

The lumber rack had its own space and an intentional organization to it. Aside from the pine, redwood, cedar, maple, cherry, and oak, there was an assortment of exotic African hardwoods: wenge, zebrawood, blackwood, mahogany, and padauk. 

Workshop<br />

From Wall Street to Woodwork

Andrew had studied and trained to work as a corporate executive, but had traded in the corner office in the Manhattan skyscraper to pursue the avocation that he loved–woodworking. 

The smell of the sawdust, the feel of newly sanded wood, and the artistic creativity of furniture design was his preferred assignment in his new barn-sized C-suite. 

I had asked Andrew if he’d be willing to create a book stand for me. He had come to my office and we had talked about design features. I wanted it to be functional, but more than that, to make a statement, to tell a story, and to represent the books that it would one day hold. 

Andrew did not disappoint. 


When I met him at the woodshop, my eyes popped. He had used an African padauk wood and shaped the portion of the stand that would hold the open book into rolled wooden sides that mimicked an ancient scroll.

Furthermore, he had fashioned a drawer that rested in the bottom of the stand facing the reader, which would hold pencils, highlighters, erasers, and book darts, to look like the spine of a book. 

It was a masterpiece of creative woodworking…

But, Andrew was a master craftsman because he was first an apprentice. 

Woodworking image<br />

Apprentices in the “Shops” of Wood and Worship

A woodshop can be quite overwhelming when we do not know how to use the tools. Crafting unique book stands and other creations only happens after we have someone teach us. For someone to achieve like Andrew, there needs to be mentoring, training, practice, and the appropriate tools and proper usage of those tools to put it all together. 

The same is true for those of us who are preachers and liturgists, whose shop is the sanctuary and service. 

If we were fortunate, we apprenticed with master craftsmen, both women and men, who taught us how to communicate the gospel and tell the larger story of God’s church; not simply how to use the tools in the workshop in isolation, but how to design and create something by collectively using all of the tools. I am grateful for Anita, Roger, Steve, Marc, Jonathan, Aisha, Lisette, Dick, Joel, Fred, Gabe, Jerry, April, Mike, Dan, Bill, Neal, and Wes, and so many others who were master craftsmen for me over the years.

We ourselves are called to do the same for others, to apprentice them in the craft. 

Sermon Illustrations on Innovation

Why the Pastor’s Workshop?

We call the work that we do The Pastor’s Workshop for a reason, certainly not because “we” are the masters of our craft, but because we wish to form a community of “wood” workers of the Gospel who have the appropriate space, fitting tools, and proper instruction from the larger community of artisans on how to use those tools to design messages that speak to the heart and mind and liturgies that engage with God’s greater story, a story that forms and shapes us as a people. 

Everyone needs an Andrew in their lives more than they need a bookstand…

The Pastor’s Workshop could provide you with finished products for you to display from your pulpit to your pews by collecting the commissioned and completed works of the Andrews out there, the sermons and detailed liturgies of the master practitioners…

But, we believe that your creativity, your design, your voice, and your craftsmanship are both what your community needs and what God wants from you. 

Because of that, we have created a workshop with the tools and guides that we trust will help you create something beautiful for God and his community with your unique words and worship. It is our hope and prayer that this resource becomes something of an Andrew for you. 

We welcome you to join us in The Pastor’s Workshop.

Know that we are always here to help.

Your Fellow Apprentices in the Craft,

Scott Bullock and the TPW Team

Scott Bullock is a Board Member and Contributor with The Pastors Workshop. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served churches in Illinois, New Jersey, and California. He holds an MA in New Testament Studies from Wheaton College, an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a ThM in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary. Scott is married with three teen-aged children.

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