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East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church

4633 Dolivia Drive, Clairemont

Membership: 85–100

Pastor: Christopher Clark

Age: 50

Born: Long Beach, Calif.

Formation: Occidental College, Los Angeles; California Baptist University, Riverside; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Forth Worth, Texas

Years Ordained: Licensed 31 years; ordained 22 years ago

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Christopher Clark: Each sermon I’ll spend an average in study and preparation of about 20 to 25 hours. I typically go through and look at the block of text I’m being led to preach on. All the while I’m praying and letting the text speak for itself. I will go through and look at the original language in which it was written, whether Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic. I will parse the verbs and decline the nouns and diagram the sentences. Then I’ll go back and revisit my outline and synthesize it into one statement: “What is the text telling me?” Then I make a declarative statement to use as my main take-away as the message.…Then I’ll look for a practical application and illustrate the points through a first-person story, a news item, or an amusing little anecdote.

SDR: Can you think of a time when you gave a sermon that completely flopped?

CC: One time I was preaching and the power went out — I mean everything went out — the lights went out, the electricity — I had no sound. Talk about a little intimidating! Everyone just stopped. So, I thought, where do I pick up from here? So I said, “All right, here’s what I’m going to do. I guess I’m going to get down with you and walk up and down the aisles and keep my voice just loud enough and if you get to a point where you can’t hear me, put your hand up.” So, I just had to gather my thoughts and continue on at that point.

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

CC: The biggest concern is that…among pastors in America, there are still too many of us that take the freedoms and liberties we have in this country for granted. We have removed ourselves from our necessary role in serving as our country’s moral compass. We have been overly concerned about being liked to the point where we have neglected our need to train our people to stand and be society’s moral voice. Martin Luther King said it best when he said that the church is neither the master nor the slave of the government; rather, the church is the conscience of the government. If the Church ceases to be that moral voice, it will become as irrelevant as a country club or any other organization. We risk that danger because too many pastors are scared to death of declaring and proclaiming the full counsel of God and doing so in a loving way but at the same time with clarity.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

CC: When I die I am going to heaven because I put my trust in Jesus. I’m going to Him — along with those who also put their trust in Jesus. As the alternative, if they choose to turn away from Jesus, they will go to an eternal punishment. Call it hell, everlasting punishment, Hades, the second death, like a fire, whatever it is, there are a number of references to it in Scripture, but Jesus is the only way to have eternal life in heaven.

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