301 East J Street, Chula Vista
Pastor: Phil Golden
Born: Fort Worth, Texas
Formation: Palomar College, San Marcos; San Diego State University, San Diego
Years Ordained: 4
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Phil Golden: I would preach on John 3:16 and 17. This second verse gives greater meaning to the verse that’s more familiar: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that whoever should believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Most people know that and have memorized it. But verse 17 then says, “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world but so that the world through Him might be saved.” This speaks to me that as Christians we sometimes hear Christians condemning the world. But this verse tells us that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to save the world — to do God’s work in the world and we’re not here to judge others. It takes away all the prejudices we might hold against other people for whatever reason. To me that gives a strong foundation for a church that opens its doors to other people.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PG: I had one elderly woman who told me that she’d been going to church for 50 years and never understood what the Bible was about until she came here. She’d heard messages, gone to Bible study and read, but never understood it before. I’d heard that from a number of people since being here, so it gives me inspiration to share the best understanding I can give in simplest terms they can understand so they can take home a better understanding of Scripture.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PG: Our mission statement says we are to be a place “where Jesus is seen in and through all people with joy.” I like to capitalize and underline the word “all.” So often people go to church to see people who are like themselves…I think a lot of people don’t go to church because they feel they’re not really welcomed. I would like for people to know they’re welcome to come just as they are.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PG: Scripture tells us that we will sleep for a little while and our souls and spiritual bodies go into heaven to be with Jesus, if we believe in Him and receive the gift of eternal salvation that God offers through His son Jesus Christ and our belief in Him…. There is another option, of course. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you don’t go that way but you go the other way, into what Revelation calls the “lake of fire.” So, hell is a reality. It’s a frightening reality, but it is there in Scripture. My hope is that no one goes there, but really in the end it’s our own choice. There are so many good people who are not believers. It’s a tough issue for me; there are people I love and know who behave the way God would have us behave — generous, kind, respectful and loving. Not everyone who is like that is a believer, so I wrestle with that a little bit and pray for them.