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Supporting the Mission of God: An Interview with Rev. Bob Kuppler

Earlier this summer, PLI retired/alumni Pastor Bob Kuppler gathered some wonderful folks in the congregation they attend in Myrtle Beach to invite them to join them in financially supporting the work of PLI. Bob spoke with such conviction of the importance of pastors and spouses becoming healthier, better leaders through PLI that I wanted to know more. You’ll discover here a pastor/leader who has never lost an eye for the mission of God or a desire to bless the women and men coming behind him and his wife Lois. 

I caught up to Bob for this conversation shortly after he and Lois returned from a much postponed trip to Switzerland. In the picture here you see this adventurous PLI alum paragliding over Interlaken, Switzerland. 

Jock: Bob why did you host an event to invite people to financially support PLI?

Bob: It’s pretty simple. I believe in what PLI is doing for the church. For me, I’m concerned about the LCMS in particular. Pastors get a broader understanding of what’s happening in the culture and how to be effective leaders and pastors in their congregations through PLI.

Jock: Tell me about Jack!

Bob: Jack is a believer in PLI. He not only supports PLI but is a great advocate. You heard him speak at the gathering that PLI is one of his top giving priorities behind our congregation. 

Jock: You have a new, young pastor in your congregation now.

Bob: Yes. Everyone wants him to succeed. We went through a very difficult season. The congregation split. Almost didn’t survive. Another retired pastor and I served as the interim pastors. Everyone here sees the value of a pastor leading with both character and skill. 

Jock: Why are you so enthusiastic about introducing people to PLI?

Bob: Lois and I personally support PLI. We were in the very first class of PLI that started 25 years ago. Way back in our church in New Jersey, we had people that believed in PLI and generously supported it. They quickly saw the value of pastors as leaders if a church was going to get focused beyond itself and onto the mission.

Jock: Was it intimidating asking people to consider supporting PLI back then? …or today?

Bob: I would just ask if they would be interested in finding out about PLI. I found that once people saw what’s going on and how effective the experience is for the pastor/wife and the congregation, they were believers! 

I earned a lot of trust with the congregation I served. It made people ready to listen about PLI!

Jock: What was best for you and Lois in your PLI experience?

Bob: PLI put us in a group of people who thought like we did! They were positive. They wanted to see their congregations grow and reach people with the Gospel of Jesus. 

We practiced accountability to each other! An experience very early on impressed upon us how important it was that we be accountable to each other. 

We went to Peru on our mission trip together. The mission trip exposed for me how much my congregation was focused on serving itself. From that point forward, we started focusing outward on mission, beyond ourselves.

(Lois joined the conversation at this point!) PLI was powerful for me (Lois) to know that I was not alone. It’s very easy to get isolated as a pastor’s wife. The experience was so profound for me that we created a similar experience for pastors’ wives in our district so they could experience some of what PLI gave to me. 

Jock: You mentioned that the congregation where you are members almost didn’t survive! As one of the interim pastors, how did you lead?

Bob: Actually, most everything I did, I learned in PLI 25 years ago! It was a challenging time: 

  • We worked through a reconciliation process.
  • We loved the people. Offered great pastoral care!
  • We placed a value on good congregational worship together.
  • We steadily rebuilt trust in the pastoral office… I had a great, like-minded partner!
  • We focused on healing and regaining a positive spirit.

Jock: What’s different about being a pastor today versus 30 years ago?

Bob: Let’s try 50 years ago!

So many congregations are locked into ineffective models that used to work. They don’t have a leader that can help people work together and focus on the mission! The need for training better leaders is so important. (Editor’s note: To reenergize the people in your congregation, explore Multipli’s genesis leader and take a look at this article written by Gail.)

50 years ago it was all about getting large numbers of people serving on boards and committees. People don’t want to do that today. And, so many churches are shrinking in numbers. People are so busy today. Kids are in sports on Sundays. There’s no time for serving. No time for Bible study. They only have an hour available.

Jock: Thanks for continuing to make a difference through PLI!

Bob: PLI was such a blessing! I was the oldest guy in our PLI class. Our congregation in New Jersey may have been one of the smallest congregations. PLI was a gift for Lois and me. 25 years later we still stay connected and we hope to get together in person in 2024.

As we wrap up this series, let me pose these questions to you one more time:

As we discussed in the first blog, Support the Leaders Coming Up Behind You, is there an introduction you could make for PLI? Either someone who might benefit from PLI’s training (contact Raechel) or someone who might consider supporting PLI financially (contact Rika)?

Or, as discussed both in the first blog and this week, is there a gathering that you might host? 

Could you contact some of your leaders and propose that PLI’s international training (as we talked about here and here) become a focus of our mission budget this year?

We are so thankful for the roles you play in furthering the mission of God through PLI!

One Response

  1. Norb says:

    Wonderful to hear your continuing love for PLI. Bob, you were my best fund raiser.

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