1620 South Stage Coach Lane, Fallbrook
Pastor: Mark Johnson
Born: Minneapolis, MI
Formation: Lutheran Bible Institute, Anaheim; Concordia University, Irvine; Lutheran Seminary, St. Paul
Years Ordained: 17
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Mark Johnson: It would have to be the simple message of God’s grace, God’s mercy in Christ Jesus. That’s the heart of the gospel and has made me a follower and believer in Jesus.
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PJ: As human beings, we are not centered in our relationship with God. Either God is not at all a part of our lives or just a peripheral part of our lives. God created us to be centered on him and that’s where true life comes from. So, I hope my prayer for the people I speak to is that I draw them out and they stay centered in their relationship with God and with Christ Jesus.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PJ: I never wanted to, but the more I got to know the Lord and spent time in his work, the more I felt the call in my heart that that was where the Lord was leading me. Now, looking back on it, I can’t see myself doing anything else, but at the time — I was a young adult — that was not the direction I was planning to go. I was looking at computer science or meteorology even at one point. But God has a sense of humor in how he works.
SDR: Why Lutheranism?
PJ: I grew up in a Lutheran home, so it’s my heritage and foundation. But in studying both in Bible school and college, I identified with the story of Martin Luther, who had a rebirth in his spiritual life when he got to know the scriptures. I identified with that rebirth myself and came into a place where I got to know God’s amazing love and amazing word through his mercy.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PJ: Our mission is simply to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ. First, we must be disciples, know Jesus and his words. We also want to help others to know Jesus by reaching out in both spiritual and physical ways, especially to the poor, the oppressed, and those in bad situations.
SDR: Where is the strangest place you’ve found God?
PJ: In my own spiritual walk, what drew me to God and his work, I wrestled with anxiety and fear. In wrestling with these things, I was drawn to a place where my confidence was not in my surroundings and circumstances, but in God, who does not change. It continues to be a process in which I’m drawn close to God in times of trouble.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PJ: Jesus said he came so that we might have life, eternal life, but he also said that eternal life is an invitation we have as human beings. I think everyone will have an afterlife, but only those who have embraced the life God wants us to have in this life go to heaven. He invites everyone to that life, but we don’t necessarily have to go there. On the other hand, I don’t believe God sends anyone to hell; I believe we go there because we refuse to receive what God wants for us.