Mike Meeks: “The problem is we make everyone jump a wall or cross hurdles that keep them from God.”
Contact: Chula Vista Campus, 2355 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista; South Coast Campus, 2050 Coronado Avenue, San Diego; 619-370-5005; eastlakechurch.com
Denomination: Independent Christian
Pastor: Mike Meeks
Born: Coos Bay, Ore.
Formation: Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena
Years Ordained: 22
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Mike Meeks: To put together a weekend is probably, all told — because I’m always working on more than one — somewhere between 15 to 20 hours. We operate with a series throughout the year for different seasons and times of the year. So for 2011 I have the whole calendar set for what we’re talking about. We’ll open with the first series of the year, “The Me I Want to Be,” which will run for about four or five weeks. With “The Me I Want to Be,” everybody has hopes and dreams of what they want their life to look like but the list of those things often is dependent on the person that I’m becoming. When we focus on that, then other things tend to fall into place.
SDR: Can you think of a time when you gave a sermon that completely flopped?
PM: I would contend that’s every week. We do four services every weekend, you know...one of them is going to suck. But, seriously — not really. We work hard at it, and I evaluate with a team before we ever even get there. Every Friday we have a creative team meeting and go over everything we’re trying to accomplish from the music to the video that we’re using and the talk itself.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PM: The biggest challenge to Christianity in America is being religious and not relational. I think we get too concerned by our denominational distinctiveness. We begin to sanctify our traditions that aren’t necessarily biblical. They’re not necessarily bad, but they become way too confining and we lose track of the mission. Why does the church even exist? We believe it’s to find and follow Jesus. The problem is we make everyone jump a wall or cross hurdles that keep them from God rather than removing those hurdles so we can connect with God. For a lot of people, they don’t feel they can go to church because they’re not cleaned up enough or they’re not religious enough. So, our approach is to do church for the rest of us who are in process.
SDR: What is the most prevalent sin you observe or hear about from your congregants?
PM: Learning how to rightly relate to people has a whole lot to do with how we view them. If you mix in all your baggage of family of origin — the crap you’ve lived through, things you’ve done, things you’ve had done to you — it all gets wrapped up and we see life through that grid of our experiences.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: You either go to be with the Father who you had this relationship with or you go eternally outside that relationship. If you choose to have relations with Him, that changes everything; if you choose not to, then that’s the choice. It’s heaven or hell.