Craig Brown: “Heaven and hell are powerful words, but in some ways they’re metaphors for the reality that happens to us spiritually.”
  • Craig Brown: “Heaven and hell are powerful words, but in some ways they’re metaphors for the reality that happens to us spiritually.”
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First United Methodist Church of San Diego

2111 Camino del Rio South, Mission Valley

Membership: 2700

Pastor: Craig Brown

Age: 46

Born: Long Beach

Formation: Biola University, La Mirada; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena

Years Ordained: 21

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Craig Brown: God has a purpose and design for each one of our lives. I find that a lot of people end up living lives that are conditioned by the circumstances and situations in which they’ve found themselves. So the decisions they’ve made about vocations or about relationships they’re in, sometimes those decisions are made in a spiritual vacuum. I think that God has a call for each and every person; there is a role that each person is uniquely designed by God to fulfill. The only way we discover that is through a process of spiritual discernment.

SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PB: The churches — and not just the Methodist churches, either — are somewhat insular. A tremendous amount of energy and effort goes into investing in the congregation to perpetuate the congregation. So, there’s not as much mission happening locally, regionally, or globally. The church tends to be too concerned with trying to get people to come to it — rather than sending people out from it in missions.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PB: My family never went to church and they still don’t, for that matter…. But, I came to faith when I was 13 years old. I had four or five other schoolmates in middle school that led me in prayer to commit my life to Christ. So, I gave my heart to the Lord even before I set foot in a church. I came to church as a response to that. I got a call to be a minster when I was 17 years old. Part of that call was a desire to serve people in the way that I felt I had been served by Jesus. For me, it’s not a matter of paying back, but asking what is the appropriate way to respond to what God gave me.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PB: All United Methodists should give the same answer because the denomination established what our mission is: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Then we have our congregational vision. “We are empowered by the Holy Spirit and enriched by our traditions to move boldly into a shared future where all people are invited to connect with Christ, cultivate faith together, and commit to serve as life-long followers of Jesus Christ.”

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PB: I see it as C.S. Lewis describes it in The Great Divorce. God drives the bus and takes us where we want to go. We’re talking about a spiritual place — which is in a sense an oxymoron. If I dig a hole deep enough, will I find hell? No. If I go high enough in the sky, will I find heaven? No. But there is a spiritual reality that is not seen in this life, and it exists, and it’s in that reality that we either experience companionship and oneness with God — made whole as we were intended to be in creation — or we experience alienation and separation from God. Heaven and hell are powerful words, but in some ways they’re metaphors for the reality that happens to us spiritually.

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Comments

David May 9, 2014 @ 7:23 p.m.

"A tremendous amount of energy and effort goes into investing in the congregation to perpetuate the congregation." A common or should I say repetitious impression in all of these "Sheep and Goats" columns is that all of these interviewees are trying hard to keep people giving them money..."To perpetuate the congregation" ... to keep their "profession" of nonsense if you will, alive. Of course, they can only do this so long as they continue espousing the fantasy favorite to each one of them, and hope that some gullible person will even listen to them and go to their church and not their competitor's church. They say all sorts of bizarre things to entice. However, they never, never offer up any evidence nor proof of their supernatural ideas. It's the same old story every two weeks, just a few imagined details different. But hey, this is the first time I ever learned that some of these bizarre people think that god drives around in a bus to pick humans up and drive them to 'heaven' or to 'hell'... and I have heard some real whoppers from fundamentalist christians... like going to heaven means we will go to live in a big white mansion (for real ...they believe a real physical structure floats around far up in the atmosphere) that is beautifully furnished and you'll have everything you ever wanted and need there... which by the way could begin the sinning all over again, yes? Religious and 'Spiritual' churches... oh my god. Fairy tales and Santa Claus and the fools who claim they are true to get the gullible and the uneducated's money and attention. Oh my god, can anyone truly believe this childish and idiot nonsense?

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