6551 Soledad Mountain Road, San Diego
Pastor: John Moser
Born: Arcadia, CA
Formation: University of California-Santa Barbara; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena
Years Ordained: 31
San Diego Reader: How long does it take you to prepare a sermon?
Pastor John Moser: I do a lot of work in the summer to lay it out for the year, and every Thursday, my set-aside day, I get ready for Sunday. I was an English major in college, so I write my sermons out and then commit them to memory or use a couple notes. I tell my wife I have to put the sermon in the oven on Thursday to bake a little more and marinate. She looks at me when she gets home from work on Thursday and asks, “Well, is it in the oven or are you still in the kitchen mixing?”
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PM: The Lakers wouldn’t have me. I was all ready to go to the NBA and then I turned 16 and it wasn’t happening. If I was taller, quicker, and could shoot, it would have been a snap. I loved athletics through high school, and so I thought I’d become a coach or a teacher. I started college thinking I would be a public school teacher as a way to give back and impact people’s lives. My parents gave me a good ethic for helping people. Then I was asked to lead a group of junior-high students at my church in Bible study. I was 19 and had already started college — and I was smitten by good responses in the study to who Christ was in the Scriptures. It was clear the kids were hungry for something more in life. It was a lot of fun. That’s when God started tugging on my life through that experience.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PM: We say we’re here to help people love God because God created us; to help people love other people that God created as well; and to reach and serve the world that God created. We think this happens best through a relationship to Jesus Christ, God’s son. It’s only 40 years old, but Mt. Soledad has a history of openness to the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: I believe that I’m going to spend eternity with God in heaven. The boundary between now and eternity is more porous in the sense that when Christ came, the kingdom of heaven invaded Earth in a good way. It’s not just after I die. Followers of Christ get to experience the blessings and challenges of being in God’s kingdom here on Earth. Our job is to help introduce the values of that kingdom, which often are sacrificial and countercultural, into our culture. We get a taste of being in God’s presence, of being in a place where God is sovereign. I believe there is judgment, as revealed in the Bible…. We know that Jesus, who is super-loving, spoke of hell. I don’t know everything about hell, and I’m cautious about describing its exact temperature, but I think hell has seeped into the world, too. Look at headlines around the world and even in our own country. But I’ll stand with Jesus — or, rather, behind him and let him do the talking.