6801 Easton Court, San Diego
Pastor: Paul Willweber
Born: Mission Hills
Formation: Concordia College, Seward, NE; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO
Years Ordained: 18
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Paul Willweber: All of my sermons are law-gospel sermons whereby I show how the law convicts you of your sins and the gospel is the solution to your problem.… We’re sinners and we need to be convicted of that. The only solution is the gospel — and Jesus dying and rising for our sins. So, without law and gospel, there’s not much to offer that’s distinctive. It would be more like giving a motivational speech or something like that.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PW: I think false doctrine is at the root of all the problems in the church today. For example, a topic of real concern to me is the Lord’s Supper. A lot of Christians don’t believe that the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ. Many Christians also believe, wrongly, that if you’re baptized and you’re a Christian, you can receive the Lord’s Supper. But Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that if you receive the Lord’s Supper unworthily, you receive it to your harm.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PW: I went to a Lutheran high school, and one of my teachers was also a vacancy pastor at our church when our pastor left. He was a huge influence on me. When I was in high school, I wanted to be like him. The more I thought about it and prayed about it, I realized that’s what I wanted to do.
SDR: Why Lutheranism?
PW: I realized at seminary that if I’m going to be a pastor in the Lutheran church it has to be because I believe it. So, I really wrestled with the idea — either it’s true or it’s not. I came to the conclusion that I believe it’s true. I definitely had my times of doubt and questioning, but nothing has ever come to convince me there’s something out there more true than Lutheranism.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PW: Our mission is to reach out to the community, to our neighborhood, with the gospel. Then, the next thing is that the members of the congregation reach out to the gospel in their daily lives.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PW: If you’re not a Christian, you go to hell for eternity; and if you’re a Christian, you go to heaven for eternity. Christians are those who believe that Jesus is their savior, and non-Christians are those who don’t. To flesh it out, we can’t know what’s in the hearts of people. If someone tells me Jesus is their savior, all I can go on is what they say; I can’t look into their heart, but God can. In other words, true Christians are not those who necessarily belong to a church but those who believe Jesus is their savior. We believe in original sin — every person is born in an active state of rebellion against God. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re born of Christian parents or not; you’re born in sin. The only way you can come to faith and belief in Jesus is when the Holy Spirit gives you faith — and he does that through the gospel.