John Ortberg

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John Ortberg
Born (1957-05-05) May 5, 1957 (age 62)
Rockford, Illinois
OccupationTheologian, Author, Minister
SubjectLeadership, Theology
SpouseNancy Ortberg
ChildrenLaura Turner, Daniel M. Lavery, John Ortberg

John Ortberg, Jr. (born May 5, 1957) is an evangelical Christian author, speaker, and senior pastor of Menlo Church[1] in Menlo Park, California, an ECO Presbyterian church with more than 4,000 members. Ortberg has published many books including the 2008 ECPA Christian Book Award winner When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box,[2] and the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award winner If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat.[3] Another of his publications, The Life You've Always Wanted, has sold more than 500,000 copies as of 2008.[4] On August 13, 2012, John Ortberg's book Who Is This Man? debuted at #3 on the New Release chart[5] at[6]


Ortberg was born in Rockford, Illinois. He earned his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College, and his M.Div. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has also studied at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. From 1985 to 1990 he served as senior pastor at Simi Valley Community Church, and then from 1990 to 1994 at Horizons Community Church (now Baseline Community Church) in Claremont, California. He then moved from California to Illinois to serve as a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois until 2003, when he assumed his current role at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, a multi-campus church in Northern California.[7]

Ortberg is father to three children, Daniel, Laura, and Johnny. Laura is a writer for the New York Times, New York Magazine, and Buzzfeed.[8] Daniel M. Lavery is the founder, writer and editor of the popular feminist humor blog The Toast[9] and the current author of the "Dear Prudence" advice column for the Slate online magazine.[10][11]


Spiritual formation[edit]

A central theme of his teaching and books is spiritual formation, the transforming of human character through authentic experiences with God. Ortberg argues that the desire for comfort and security often stands in the way of an authentic relationship with God – when people place too high a value on being secure and comfortable they may be reluctant to make the sacrifices God asks of them.[12]

Eternal cravings[edit]

Ortberg has warned against the societal pressures which tell people that bigger is always better, saying "I think for all of us, whatever your ministry or job, bigness will never satisfy the call."[13] In his books he has described his own desire for importance and success, and how achieving them did not ultimately bring him happiness.[14] "Your cravings," according to Ortberg, "if you could get to the bottom of them, are for the eternal."[15]

Modern influence of Jesus Christ[edit]

According to John Ortberg in Who Is This Man, "Jesus and the movement that followed him influenced education, the rise of universities, and the movement for universal literacy."

In media[edit]

Ortberg's retelling of his experience of playing Monopoly with his grandmother was used as the beginning narration of Peter Joseph's 2011 documentary Zeitgeist: Moving Forward.

An official video[16] for Who Is This Man? was created and released to media in August, 2012.


Ortberg has been a featured speaker at many events, including

Works published as author[edit]

  • Grace: An Invitation to a Way of Life (with Laurie Pederson and Judson Poling). Zondervan, 2000 ISBN 978-0-310-22074-9
  • If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. Zondervan, 2001 ISBN 978-0-310-22863-9
  • Love Beyond Reason. Zondervan, 2001 ISBN 978-0-310-23449-4
  • The Life You've Always Wanted. Zondervan, 2002 ISBN 978-0-310-24695-4
  • Everybody's Normal Till You Get To Know Them. Zondervan, 2003 ISBN 978-0-310-22864-6
  • Living the God Life: Finding God's Extraordinary Love in Your Ordinary Life. Inspirio, 2004, ISBN 978-0-310-80195-5
  • God Is Closer Than You Think: If God is Always with Us, why is He So Hard to Find? Zondervan, 2005 ISBN 978-0-310-25349-5
  • Now What?: God's Guide to Life for Graduates. Zondervan, 2005 ISBN 978-0-310-80282-2
  • When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box. Zondervan, 2007 ISBN 978-0-310-25350-1
  • Know Doubt. Zondervan, 2008 ISBN 978-0-310-32503-1
  • The Me I Want To Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You. Zondervan, 2010 ISBN 978-0-310-27592-3
  • Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Zondervan, 2012 ISBN 978-0-310-27594-7
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You. Zondervan, 2014 ISBN 978-0-310-27596-1
  • Wrote the foreword for William Vanderbloemen (2014). Next: Pastoral Succession That Works. Baker. ISBN 978-0801016479.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pastors and Ministers". Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  2. ^ "2008 Christian Book Awards Winners - Christian Life category". Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  3. ^ "The Dick Staub Interview: John Ortberg's Freak Show". Christianity Today. May 1, 2003. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  4. ^ "Gold / Platinum / Diamond Book Awards Winners". Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ " John's Bio". Archived from the original on September 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  8. ^ " Selected Work". Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  9. ^ "Gabbin' About God: Predestination and/or Free Will".
  10. ^ Turner, Julia (November 9, 2015). "Meet Our New Dear Prudence Columnist". Slate. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  11. ^ "Recently in Dear Prudence". Slate. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Duduit, Michael. "Preaching Through Their Defenses: An Interview with John Ortberg". Preaching. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  13. ^ "Good Drive, Bad Drive". Ministry Mentor. November 2005. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  14. ^ Creel, Colin (2005). Perspectives: A Spiritual Life Guide for Twentysomethings. Relevant Media Group. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-9760357-8-7.
  15. ^ Trueheart, Charles (August 1996). "Welcome to the Next Church". The Atlantic. pp. 37–58. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Lee, Courtney (March 8, 2006). "Promise Keepers Announces Keynote Speaker for 2006 Conferences". Christian Today. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  18. ^ Doane, Guillaume (May 3, 2007). "Westmont Graduation to Honor Students, Mark Departure of Outgoing President". Montecito Journal. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  19. ^ "GLS Speakers". The Global Leadership Summit India. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  20. ^ "GLS Speakers". The Global Leadership Summit India. Retrieved August 11, 2012.

External links[edit]