Brent Ross: "...not a question of how do we get the world into the church but a more relevant question — how do we get the church back into the world?"
  • Brent Ross: "...not a question of how do we get the world into the church but a more relevant question — how do we get the church back into the world?"
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Normal Heights United Methodist Church

4650 Mansfield Street, Normal Heights

Membership: 120

Pastor: Brent Ross

Age: 40

Born: Albuquerque, NM

Formation: Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN; Garrett Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, IL

Years Ordained: 5

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

Pastor Brent Ross: The parables are amazing. I always find it interesting that Jesus, because he had this limited amount of time here on Earth, expressed who God was and what the kingdom of God would look like by using stories more than anything else. I think it’s a big indicator to us the way people can catch a new vision for life or faith…. Instead of Jesus giving the brute-force logic of who God is and what people need to do, he would tell stories, the way we can really open ourselves and each other to different ways of seeing the world and understanding ourselves.

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

PR: I think a really big concern for the church I have nowadays in our culture here in the West is not a question of how do we get the world into the church but a more relevant question — how do we get the church back into the world?... I feel like the most important thing I can do here on Sundays is prepare them for what they can do the rest of the week in the world — instead of getting people to come here on Sundays.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PR: I always feel weird saying this, but I had a call to do it. That’s when I was fairly young, I had what I think was a spiritual experience that indicated to me that I had a call to be a pastor.

SDR: Why Methodist?

PR: This connection of piety, which is loving God, and mercy, which is loving other people, as Methodism said from the very beginning, are parts of the same thing. If you feel grateful for God’s love, the only way to express that is to love other people like you have been loved. There’s a real balance between internal spirituality and social justice and caring for other people. Seeing the whole thing is great — the heart of faith is holding those two things together.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you’ve found God?

PR: We have a particular discipleship worship we do called “Sacred Ordinary” here. What we try to do in worship is look for God in more than sacred places, sacred time, and that sort of thing. But how do we equip people and encourage them to see signs of God’s glory for the rest of the week?

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PR: What’s ultimately real is God’s love for us — that’s what creation came out of — and there are scriptures that talk about that. There’s nothing that separates us for the love of Christ — neither principalities nor powers. That says to me that life as we see it here is true and real, but God’s love is that ultimate reality. We see that in this life and whatever we see beyond death, I hope there is the realization that God’s love is still there and that’s what we were experiencing in this life. I would say that, regardless of the categories of heaven and hell, which are our ways of responding to that realization.

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