Northminster Presbyterian Church
- Contact: 4324 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego (858) 490-3995 https://northminstersandiego.squarespace.com
- Neighborhood: Claremont
- Membership: 90; 60-75 per week on Zoom (since COVID shutdown)
- Pastor: Jay Shirley
- Age: 66
- Born: Corpus Christi, TX
- Formation: Westmont College, Santa Barbara; Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA; Bethel Seminary, San Diego
- Years Ordained: 37
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Jay Shirley: Right now, I’ve really been focused on making my sermons scriptural. We’ve been going through different books of the Bible. Since I’ve been here at Northminster, I always thought the more you preach the easier it gets. I don’t find that at all. I spend as much time as I give myself —probably 15-plus hours a week. I find it challenging to make my sermons relevant, which is the only point in giving a sermon.
SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
PS: The unbelievable grace and mercy of God showered upon all of us. We often don’t view God in the way we probably could or should. It’s more about how I can be good for God; but, really, God loves you as you are. If you can get that, then figuring the rest out comes pretty naturally. Our culture is about how to get to God – but God is there and accepts us as we are. So it’s a lot less about getting to God and more about understanding who God is and as we do that he will change us on the inside, change our hearts, to be who we were created to be. It comes under how God has it set up rather than through how we try to set it up through religion.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PS: The mission is to discern God’s will for this group of Christian believers in Claremont, and to serve God and our community, as we discern that we can and as God guides us. We seem to have a pretty strong concern for the community of Claremont, as our history bears out, especially through our garden ministry. Probably two-thirds of the people who have plots on our property are not affiliated with our church.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PS: I believe the Bible is vague on heaven and on hell for intentional reasons. It wouldn’t be a choice to choose to give your life to God if you either knew what either one was like. Why would you even hesitate? I do believe there is a judgment, because Jesus talked about it. The judgment the Bible talks about was not created for humans; God created every human to be with him. He loves every human and gives us the responsibility to get the good news to every person, but we are people of free will and God will honor our choices. I’m not sure what life without God would be like, but I think if I imagined what this world would be like if God wasn’t engaged in it, as bad as we see things are, it would be a worse mess. We’re told in heaven we’re in the presence of God, and there is no more death, dying, suffering or pain. What scripture says and Jesus says is “Don’t miss it!” But I heard something recently: if you profess belief in heaven, why wouldn’t you want to first know more about God before you got there? That’s a good point. So I don’t preach on heaven or on hell. I preach that God loves you and will make a difference in your life today.