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Sweetwater River Church

Frank Wooden: “Anything you put before God can become an idol, whether it’s a fitness regimen or...climbing the corporate ladder.”
Frank Wooden: “Anything you put before God can become an idol, whether it’s a fitness regimen or...climbing the corporate ladder.”
Place

Sweetwater River Church

6090 Banbury St., San Diego




Denomination: Assembly of God

Membership: 125

Pastor: Frank Wooden

Age: 53

Born: Berkeley

Formation: Vanguard University, Costa Mesa; Bethany Bible College, Santa Cruz.

Years Ordained: 24

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

Pastor Frank Wooden: We do something different at Sweetwater. I’m gifted with a great pastoral team of credentialed ministers, and we do a team process twice a month. At the moment, we’re looking at an upcoming sermon series, so one of us will be assigned the duty of mapping out the message series. Each week, whoever is scheduled to preach for that week will preach their own sermon using the notes and research we’ve gathered. So between the notes and research done beforehand, and what it takes me in any given week, it’s probably around a 12–14 hour process to develop a message.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PW: I’m big on the concept that hope does change things. Our God is a God of hope. We designed our whole ministry around hope and use sandiegohope.com as our website. I think at some point we’ll probably change the name of our church to reflect that same idea. I really believe the world is searching for hope. That hope is found in a person named Jesus Christ. So anytime someone visits our church, the whole goal is to encourage their hope.

SDR: Which of the Ten Commandments does your congregation have the hardest time keeping?

PW: I think all of them can be challenging, but the first one, to have no other gods, can be tricky. We pat ourselves that we’re more educated than to bow before an idol, but I think we can have other gods that go by more palatable names which can worm their way into our lives. Anything that you put before God can become an idol, whether it’s a fitness regimen or trying to make a success in life climbing the corporate ladder. I think those are the things in life that are most subtle in the ways they work their way into us.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PW: I sensed a call by God. It wasn’t an audible voice but I knew that ministry is where he wanted me to be. Each time that the next step came…there were confirmations that came along that just kept reminding me I was on the right path.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PW: My favorite verse in scripture is John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except by me.” I think we all appear before Christ. The goal is that Christ came to give us abundant life (John 10:10), and we look at abundant life as not only eternal life, although that’s a component of it, but also as a certain quality of life we can live now. I look at it as a continuum. Christ came to change my life for now, but also for eternity. The key is that this must happen through Jesus Christ…. There is no other way except through Jesus, and heaven is our eternal home. We also believe there is a hell. If heaven can be described as eternal paradise with Christ, hell is a place I would describe as eternal torment.

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Frank Wooden: “Anything you put before God can become an idol, whether it’s a fitness regimen or...climbing the corporate ladder.”
Frank Wooden: “Anything you put before God can become an idol, whether it’s a fitness regimen or...climbing the corporate ladder.”
Place

Sweetwater River Church

6090 Banbury St., San Diego




Denomination: Assembly of God

Membership: 125

Pastor: Frank Wooden

Age: 53

Born: Berkeley

Formation: Vanguard University, Costa Mesa; Bethany Bible College, Santa Cruz.

Years Ordained: 24

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

Pastor Frank Wooden: We do something different at Sweetwater. I’m gifted with a great pastoral team of credentialed ministers, and we do a team process twice a month. At the moment, we’re looking at an upcoming sermon series, so one of us will be assigned the duty of mapping out the message series. Each week, whoever is scheduled to preach for that week will preach their own sermon using the notes and research we’ve gathered. So between the notes and research done beforehand, and what it takes me in any given week, it’s probably around a 12–14 hour process to develop a message.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PW: I’m big on the concept that hope does change things. Our God is a God of hope. We designed our whole ministry around hope and use sandiegohope.com as our website. I think at some point we’ll probably change the name of our church to reflect that same idea. I really believe the world is searching for hope. That hope is found in a person named Jesus Christ. So anytime someone visits our church, the whole goal is to encourage their hope.

SDR: Which of the Ten Commandments does your congregation have the hardest time keeping?

PW: I think all of them can be challenging, but the first one, to have no other gods, can be tricky. We pat ourselves that we’re more educated than to bow before an idol, but I think we can have other gods that go by more palatable names which can worm their way into our lives. Anything that you put before God can become an idol, whether it’s a fitness regimen or trying to make a success in life climbing the corporate ladder. I think those are the things in life that are most subtle in the ways they work their way into us.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PW: I sensed a call by God. It wasn’t an audible voice but I knew that ministry is where he wanted me to be. Each time that the next step came…there were confirmations that came along that just kept reminding me I was on the right path.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PW: My favorite verse in scripture is John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except by me.” I think we all appear before Christ. The goal is that Christ came to give us abundant life (John 10:10), and we look at abundant life as not only eternal life, although that’s a component of it, but also as a certain quality of life we can live now. I look at it as a continuum. Christ came to change my life for now, but also for eternity. The key is that this must happen through Jesus Christ…. There is no other way except through Jesus, and heaven is our eternal home. We also believe there is a hell. If heaven can be described as eternal paradise with Christ, hell is a place I would describe as eternal torment.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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