John Ortberg, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian author, speaker, and the former senior pastor of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California, an ECO Presbyterian church with more than 4,000 members.
John Ortberg, Jr. (born May 5, 1957) is an American evangelical Christian author, speaker, and the former senior pastor of Menlo Church 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, and the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award winner If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. Another of his publications, The Life You've Always Wanted, has sold more than 500,000 copies as of 2008. On August 13, 2012, John Ortberg's book Who Is This Man? debuted at #3 on the New Release chart at Amazon.com.He resigned from his position as pastor of Menlo church in July 2020 after it was revealed that he had allowed one of his sons, John Ortberg III, to continue volunteering in working with minors at the church after the son had confessed to having a strong sexual attraction to young children. The allegations had arisen in late 2019, initially without identifying his son as the volunteer in question.
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.Ortberg is married. His wife Nancy is also a Christian pastor and they have three children: Laura, Daniel, and John III. Laura is a writer for The New York Times, New York Magazine, and BuzzFeed. Daniel M. Lavery is the founder, writer and editor of the now-defunct feminist humor blog The Toast and was the author of the "Dear Prudence" advice column for the Slate online magazine from November 2015 until May 2021. Their youngest is John III, known as Johnny, who was born around 1990 and had been volunteering at Menlo Church as a youth leader and coach until about 2020.
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.
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." In his books he has described his own desire for importance and success, and how achieving them did not ultimately bring him happiness. "Your cravings," according to Ortberg, "if you could get to the bottom of them, are for the eternal."
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.
Ortberg has been a featured speaker at many events, including
Promise Keepers 2006 Conferences
Westmont College (2007 commencement speaker)
In the summer of 2018, Ortberg's son, John III, confessed to him that he was sexually attracted to minors. At that time, Ortberg did nothing to ensure that his son stopped his volunteer activities with minors at Menlo Church. Ortberg also did not alert other church leaders to the situation.Ortberg's other son, Daniel Lavery, posted on Twitter in 2020 that a member of his father's church had disclosed his 'obsessive sexual feelings about young children' to Lavery on November 15, 2019. Upon discovering that his father had not shared this information with Menlo Church Leadership or the Elder Board, Lavery went to the church's leadership himself. Lavery has stated that Ortberg dismissed his concerns in part because Lavery is transgender.On November 22, 2019, Ortberg went on leave from his position. The reason for his leave was not stated at that time.On January 21, 2020, Menlo Church issued a statement indicating Ortberg's reason for being placed on leave, that he had allowed a church volunteer (John III was not named in that statement) to work and travel with children, despite that volunteer's confession of a lifelong sexual attraction to children. Ortberg was reinstated after an investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.On January 24, 2020, Ortberg returned from leave. He has stated that he "failed to do the right thing" and apologized for his "lack of transparency". After completing a restoration plan, Ortberg returned to the pulpit on March 7, 2020.On July 29, Menlo Church announced that Ortberg had resigned his position, effective August 2, 2020, citing broken trust and fallout from the “poor judgement” in decisions he had made in allowing his son to continue to volunteer with students after his confession of an attraction to minors.It has been alleged by Lavery that the investigation into his father's misconduct was inadequate: the lawyer who conducted the investigation has no experience with matters of sexual misconduct: rather, he is a specialist in protecting clients from litigation.
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
The foreword for Vanderbloemen, William (2014). Next: Pastoral Succession That Works. Baker. ISBN 978-0801016479.
Eternity is Now In Session: A radical rediscovery of what Jesus really taught about salvation, eternity, and getting to the Good Place. Tyndale, 2018 ISBN 978-1-4964-3164-6
John Ortberg Official Site
Official Publisher Site
Menlo Allegations – Record of Allegations Against John Ortberg and Menlo Church