Pastor Dennis Estill “didn’t want to be a minister. I wanted to be a cop.”
1012 E. Bradley Avenue, El Cajon
Denomination: Charismatic Interdenominational
Pastor: Dennis Estill
Born: Rochelle, Ill.
Formation: Life Bible College (Life Pacific College), Los Angeles; Biola University, La Mirada; Azusa Pacific, Azusa.
Years Ordained: 37
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermons?
Pastor Dennis Estill: I prepare anywhere from four to six hours, and I really concentrate a lot on relationships. So, most of my sermons deal with some sort of relationship — whether marriage, family, friendship, or my relationship with God. So, that’s primarily my emphasis.
SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
PE: It has become the theme of our church: “Love God and love people.” To me, that pretty much sums up our responsibility as a church. If you get those two things right, everything else falls into place. In a sense, nothing else is that important; that’s why I think there can be so much room for unity among churches if they simplified the message of Christ. That simplicity was reflected in Jesus’s response when he was asked what the most important commandment is. He said, the first is to love God, and the second is like the first, to love people. If we’re getting that right, we’re doing well.
SDR: Why Foursquare?
PE: My parents and grandfather were Foursquare pastors…. I felt like I was part of the Foursquare family and the Foursquare church was part of my family…. The doctrine has substance to it, as well; the real message of God’s word — we believe it. It’s a pure kind of belief system, rather than depending on a lot of tradition.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PE: I didn’t want to be a minister; I wanted to be a cop. It was a Sunday night and I was praying in church and God spoke to my heart. He said, “I want you to pastor.” I went into it kicking and screaming; I did not want to do it. I didn’t want anything to do with it, but I felt an unmistakable call in my life. I felt I couldn’t do anything else and be truly happy unless I was pastoring.
SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?
PE: About 12 years ago, we were pastoring in the Los Angeles area. We had a wonderful church there and we were doing well. We had a student-body retreat out in the desert — Twentynine Palms. It was a wilderness experience of sorts — and they brought us out and left us there, saying they’d be back for us in about two hours. So, I’m all by myself out there among the cactus and sage brush, and God spoke to my heart about what he wanted my wife and I to do with these last years of our ministry, which involved coming here to El Cajon. It was a big deal for us; I never felt so clear that call from God to go to a specific place.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PE: Scripture makes it really clear. There is only one of two places that one goes when we die. Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present to the Lord. Jesus spoke of a literal hell and a literal heaven. I believe it is through a relationship with Christ that we gain eternal life, and it is by rejecting Christ that one ends up in hell, separated from God.