Raymond van Pletsen: “Our mission is to produce people who are becoming more and more like Jesus.”
1918 Redwing Street, San Marcos
Membership: 200 (adults)
Executive Pastor: Raymond van Pletsen
Born: Johannesburg, South Africa
Formation: Calvary Bible College, Kansas City, MO; Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX
Years Ordained: 34
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Raymond van Pletsen: John 15, where Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” At Meadowlark we make our sermons Christ-centered so that every sermon resolves itself back to Jesus because he’s the only one who can produce life-change…. So, we can’t do anything without him, without his spirit, so we bring every sermon back to what God says we must do and how Jesus enables us to do it.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PVP: I’d say in the world there is a sense of apathy among Christians. In their relationship with Jesus — as a book recently written [Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, by Kyle Idleman] puts a finger on it — Jesus has enough fans but not so many followers. What he wants are Christians who are more than fans of Jesus. That’s why our sermons focus on Christ and are biblically based. We feel we have to bring people all the way back to the source.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PVP: What got me into ministry was discovering I loved to teach the Bible. I started teaching it to junior and senior high-school students and never looked back. The moment came when the youth leader of our church, who was a volunteer, said to me, “Raymond, you should give it some thought to go into ministry.” I expected to follow my father and grandfather into gold-mining of one sort or another. After this volunteer watched me working with the kids, though, he was the one who said I should consider it. That’s when the light went on — because until then I enjoyed teaching the Bible so much, I didn’t think of it as a career.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PVP: Our mission is to produce people who are becoming more and more like Jesus. Of course, God does that, but we participate with him in the process. It has to start with Jesus and as we live in a life-on-life relationship with him, he changes us to become more like himself.
SDR: Where is the strangest place you’ve found God?
PVP: In the darkest period of my life, after my first wife divorced me, there was about a three-year period of time which was extended darkness before it began to clear. The day I drove away from home in my U-Haul truck, I knew I needed God to make it through the next hour, let alone through the next day. I found him there, though.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PVP: We shrink back from the idea of an eternal hell, but the Bible says we have to accept it as fact. That’s why Paul begged people to be reconciled to God. We reach heaven through faith in Christ. Someone described it this way: you resign as god of your own life and enthrone Christ as God in your life. But if you remain as god of your own life and refuse to let Jesus in, you’re condemning yourself for eternity separated from God.