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Pilgrim Lutheran Church

497 East E Street, Chula Vista

Pastor: Tim Gerdes

Age: 37

Born: Flint, Michigan

Formation: Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

Years Ordained: 11

San Diego Reader: Can you think of a time when you gave a sermon that completely flopped?

Pastor Tim Gerdes: Last week, I had to speak in our school chapel to students. It was a relatively brief message, but I had two ideas going on in my head at once. I should have stuck on one because everything was going great until I introduced the second idea and it just took a right-hand turn — and took some time to dig myself out…. I know things don’t go well when I try to shove too much stuff into a message. If I have a story or point I want to make that is a tangent — because I want to share the point or story — it never goes well.

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

PT: We have a changing society. We’re coming from a period of time when the Church was centrally located in our culture and it’s not that way anymore. How do you engage the culture? God has given us the same mission and ministry, but how do you do it? I think you probably have to change some things with different approaches to things. Only 40 years ago, our school ministry was to keep our kids Christian and support their Christian upbringing. Now, the school’s an outreach — reaching out to families who have never heard of Jesus Christ.

SDR: Why did you become a pastor?

PT: I never had a lightning-bolt moment or a dream or some dramatic moment. A pastor I met when I was growing up planted the seed, suggesting I should go to seminary and become a pastor. I wasn’t really headed in that direction and blew it off. But it nagged me for awhile — the idea didn’t go away. So when it was time for college to be over, I asked myself what I wanted to do. What’s the next step? So I decided to go to seminary to see what would happen. In that whole process, I felt a stronger and stronger calling which developed and spoke to me. I came to the idea that God was using me to bring life back to churches that were experiencing tepidness and to see life breathed back into churches and revitalized for today and for tomorrow.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: I believe that when Christ comes at the Final Judgment, He will decide where you go based solely on your faith in Him, not how good you think you are. Eternal life in heaven is a free gift from Him received in faith. It is not something we earn or are entitled to.

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