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The Response Church: a Pilgrim’s Progress

We’re non-responsive – and God makes us responsive

Joel Webbon
Joel Webbon

The Response Church

  • Contact: 1499 Venice St., San Diego 619-354-8463 www.theresponsechurch.com
  • Membership: 180 (adults)
  • Pastor: Joel Webbon 
  • Age: 32
  • Born: Tomball, TX
  • Formation: Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, TX
  • Years Ordained: 5

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

Pastor Joel Webbon: I usually take about 12-20 hours on average each week, and we are very committed to preaching through whole books of the Bible. Just as eating vegetables is great, but we also need grains and meat — we need a well balanced diet. So too, preaching whole books of the Bible helps hold myself and our other pastors at the church accountable so we don’t gravitate to our own hobbyhorses and soapboxes, which you can do in topical preaching. But even with exegetical preaching, you can have a primary text in scripture, which you can spend five years preaching on — for instance, about the wrath of God — without ever mentioning the love of God. By preaching whole books of the Bible, though, it provides a well-rounded counsel from God.

SDR: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

PW: The gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the central message of all scripture. Jesus was clear that all the prophets and law point to him. If he is the sum of both the Old and New Testament — and he didn’t come to abolish the law but as the fulfillment of the law — then all scripture points toward Christ, so I would want to preach the gospel.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PW: In naming our church The Response, sometimes people think that we intend through that name a kind of spiritual sense of “First Responders.” But that would be secondary to us. By “Response” we mean that, in God-centeredness rather than man-centeredness, we firmly believe that mankind, men and women, are spiritually dead unless God saves us. We’re non-responsive – and God makes us responsive

SDR: What one work of literature has had the most impact on your ministry?

PW: For the last three hundred years, many in Church history in the reformed tradition have said that the greatest book outside the Bible itself is Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, who was a Reformed Baptist. Bunyan was in jail for most of his life because of his preaching — and the book has been the highest selling outside of the Bible, or at least was for a long time.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PW: I believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell. That is the orthodox Christian view throughout these 2,000 years of church history. I’m not excited about there being a literal hell — it’s not something we cheer about — but I do believe it’s Biblical and true, and therefore should be taught. We will have a bodily existence — scripture is clear about this, too — so we won’t be Gnostics with just a soul or a spirit floating around for all eternity, or become wrapped up in God with a unified consciousness; rather, we will have a glorified bodily state. Just as Christ was raised on the third day from the dead, he was the first fruit of the resurrection for those who trust in him. I believe we will be bodily raised as the Bible teaches, either to glory or damnation. I might also add, although it’s not super popular, it could be that what makes hell so terrible, is not because God is absent but because he is very much present — in the form of his eternal wrath for sin.

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Nearly empty Symphony Hall full of brass

45 musicians under Payare stand apart
Joel Webbon
Joel Webbon

The Response Church

  • Contact: 1499 Venice St., San Diego 619-354-8463 www.theresponsechurch.com
  • Membership: 180 (adults)
  • Pastor: Joel Webbon 
  • Age: 32
  • Born: Tomball, TX
  • Formation: Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, TX
  • Years Ordained: 5

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

Pastor Joel Webbon: I usually take about 12-20 hours on average each week, and we are very committed to preaching through whole books of the Bible. Just as eating vegetables is great, but we also need grains and meat — we need a well balanced diet. So too, preaching whole books of the Bible helps hold myself and our other pastors at the church accountable so we don’t gravitate to our own hobbyhorses and soapboxes, which you can do in topical preaching. But even with exegetical preaching, you can have a primary text in scripture, which you can spend five years preaching on — for instance, about the wrath of God — without ever mentioning the love of God. By preaching whole books of the Bible, though, it provides a well-rounded counsel from God.

SDR: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

PW: The gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the central message of all scripture. Jesus was clear that all the prophets and law point to him. If he is the sum of both the Old and New Testament — and he didn’t come to abolish the law but as the fulfillment of the law — then all scripture points toward Christ, so I would want to preach the gospel.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PW: In naming our church The Response, sometimes people think that we intend through that name a kind of spiritual sense of “First Responders.” But that would be secondary to us. By “Response” we mean that, in God-centeredness rather than man-centeredness, we firmly believe that mankind, men and women, are spiritually dead unless God saves us. We’re non-responsive – and God makes us responsive

SDR: What one work of literature has had the most impact on your ministry?

PW: For the last three hundred years, many in Church history in the reformed tradition have said that the greatest book outside the Bible itself is Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, who was a Reformed Baptist. Bunyan was in jail for most of his life because of his preaching — and the book has been the highest selling outside of the Bible, or at least was for a long time.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PW: I believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell. That is the orthodox Christian view throughout these 2,000 years of church history. I’m not excited about there being a literal hell — it’s not something we cheer about — but I do believe it’s Biblical and true, and therefore should be taught. We will have a bodily existence — scripture is clear about this, too — so we won’t be Gnostics with just a soul or a spirit floating around for all eternity, or become wrapped up in God with a unified consciousness; rather, we will have a glorified bodily state. Just as Christ was raised on the third day from the dead, he was the first fruit of the resurrection for those who trust in him. I believe we will be bodily raised as the Bible teaches, either to glory or damnation. I might also add, although it’s not super popular, it could be that what makes hell so terrible, is not because God is absent but because he is very much present — in the form of his eternal wrath for sin.

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Sign of the times

“Even if you’re a hater, I’ll sit and talk with you. We can find some common ground.”
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Save 30th gets less than 24 hours notice
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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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