13739 El Monte Road, Lakeside
Denomination: Independent Christian Church
Pastor: Marshall Masser
Born: San Antonio, Texas
Formation: Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln, Ill.
Years Ordained: 15 years.
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Marshall Masser: I like to think I spend an hour of preparation for every minute of the sermon. So I like to think I spend on average 20 hours preparing. A more exegetical sermon requires more hours in commentary work, while a topical sermon requires fewer hours because you’re usually pulling from resources not just commentaries, but also experts on a subject and things like that. It takes half as much time to write a topical sermon.
SDR: Can you think of a time when you gave a sermon that completely flopped?
PM: This past December I preached a Christmas series related to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. I called the series “From Humbug to Hallelujah.” I urged everyone to start dealing with our bad attitudes about family get-togethers, how much money we’re going to spend, and other things that bring bad Christmas humbugs. I delivered the sermon — well, it was just deadpan — and the whole congregation was looking at me like I was the only person that ever had any humbugs. The faces I was getting told me that I was standing in the room alone while the rest thought Christmas was the greatest time of the whole year. They eventually caught on as the series went along, but that first sermon I remember thinking, What have I done?
SDR: What is the most prevalent sin you observe or hear about from your congregants?
PM: I teach my church that all sin can be boiled down to three things — pride, greed, or lust. At the heart of all sin is one of those three things. I call it the three-legged stool of sin. In my church, I suppose the struggle for us Christians, the longer we have been believers, the more we struggle with pride and with thinking that we’re doing things right….
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PM: It is our goal to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. The first step toward that goal is to build a relationship with Jesus — by coming to church on Sunday. For step two, we want to grow with believers and we encourage our congregation to become members of a small-group Bible study. So they’re growing in God’s word and growing together with believers in community. For the third step, we want congregation members to help their church and neighbors by encouraging them to be servants. We want our people to help the people that live or work right next to them.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: I believe when we die we meet our creator. We go face to face with God. If we have a relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ, then we go right to Heaven. There is no delay. We close our eyes on this world and we open our eyes in paradise with Jesus. I believe there is also an alternative to Heaven. We do believe there is Hell, and if people do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, then they do spend eternity without Him.