New Venture Grace Church
- Contact: 4000 Mystra Dr., Oceanside 760-721-7777 www.newventuregrace.com
- Membership: 3,000 (Post-COVID, 700)
- Pastor: Shawn Mitchell
- Age: 66
- Born: San Diego
- Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Bethel Seminary, San Diego; Church of the Holy Land Studies, Israel; Goethe Institute, Berlin, Germany.
- Years Ordained: 48
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Shawn Mitchell: I’m an evangelist. I have that gift. So my subject is definitely going to be a message of hope to help populate heaven. My personal mission is to help as many people to get to heaven as I can before going there myself. So I try to preach a message where anyone can say, “Oh, I get it now.” If they can say, “I do believe in Jesus Christ,” that’s a great day for us.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PM: I came to Christ – it seems like forever now – April 17, 1971. A Youth for Christ group was singing at the Civic Theater in San Diego. I went to go hear this group…and I never heard anyone up to this time talk about God and Jesus in a way that sounded so powerful. I was raised Catholic, but I never heard two words put together: “Born again.” That night I made a decision to follow Jesus, which changed the trajectory of my life. Then I went to school so doors wouldn’t be shut, which is when I started attending Bible college. I didn’t begin pastoring, though, until about 30 years ago, when the Lord began to instill in my heart that I wanted to make a sizeable difference, not in speaking and learning, but in pastoring groups of people. That was in 1989, which is when New Venture Grace began. Thousands have been through the church since then. But it started with a desire to do more.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PM: Our mission is to reach, teach and release. We reach people for Christ; we teach people the things of Christ; and then we release people to the work of Christ. Our vision is to help people find Christ and live life to its fullest. Since we started, that has been the mission and vision that has propelled us. I don’t fish, but they say that if you go fishing – you have to go to where the fish are, and you have to use the right bait. So annually, we are known for putting on the largest outdoor Easter sunrise service in the county. It’s right on the ocean. Oceanside blocks off streets and puts bleachers on the streets because of the sheer numbers that come. We get 5,000-6,000 people and we feed about 3,000-4,000 with a continental breakfast after every Easter service.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: This life is just the warm-up act for heaven. I know I’m on borrowed time now. I’m loving it down here, but the real party is going on somewhere else – in heaven. I do not see anywhere in scripture that there is purgatory. I was raised with that as a Catholic, and purgatory comes out of the Catholic Bible – the Vulgate version, which has only two verses that talk about this kind of holding tank called purgatory. But when Jesus was here he spoke about hell as if he wanted to be sure that no one went there. Because he gave free choice, there has to be the option. The only place where God is not is hell.