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Pathways: to walk through loss, death or grief and find growth

Not a popular way to advertise for the church: “Come and suffer!”

Phil Herrington
Phil Herrington

Pathways Church

  • Contact: 9639 Carlton Hills Blvd., Santee 619-449-1269 www.pathways.cc/
  • Average Attendance: 600
  • Pastor: Phil Herrington
  • Age: 64
  • Born: Waco, TX
  • Formation: Houston Baptist University; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX; Biola University-Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada
  • Years Ordained: 32

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your sermons?

Pastor Phil Herrington: I usually spend anywhere from eight to 12 hours a week on sermon preparation. We try to make our messages biblical but also interesting and relevant to the needs of people.

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

PH: The topic of grace. God is a God of grace and mercy. Those seem to be strong themes in my messages in the last 10 years or so. Grace and mercy, planted with plenty of truth, which is a big thing right now in relating to people in our culture. We live in a time when there is so much division and anger and confusion and the continuing ravaging effects of sin in our lives. We need to know we’re forgiven, and that God has made a way for us to know him and to find our true purpose in life.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PH: We exist to urgently lead people to know Jesus and passionately follow him. We have seven heart attitudinal values out of scripture that when someone wants to become a full-fledged card-sharing member of our church, we ask them to commit to these values. (1) We put the goals and interests of others above our own. (2) We want to live open and honest lives before others. (3) We want to give and receive scriptural correction. (4) We want to clear up relationships – asking for forgiveness when things go sideways in relationships, friendships. (5) We challenge people to participate in the ministry of the church – to get in the game. (6) We ask people to support the church, the work and ministry, financially. (7) We ask people to follow spiritual leadership within scriptural limits. We want to be known for authentic relationships, life transformation, outward focus, empowering people for impacting others — all of it wrapped around a lifestyle of worship.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PH: In grief and pain. We all expect these mountain-to transfiguring moments like Peter, James, and John had with Jesus, and often when I’ve experienced God, it’s mostly at the hands of the most severe kinds of mercy in my life. As I’ve walked through loss, death or grief in my family or my congregation, God reveals himself in such unmistakable ways that have created more growth than in any other moment of my life. Not a popular way to advertise for the church: “Come and suffer!” There’s a saying I read in a dusty old book I found in a bookstore once. “Suffering is the anvil on which God shapes our character.” I don’t know who said it or when, but that one stuck with me.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: I totally believe in a heaven and in a personal, real hell. It’s one of the motivating factors for why I’m still in the business at one church for 30 years. I want to make it hard to get to hell from Santee, California, and increase the population of heaven as much as I can. Scripture speaks clearly about a literal place at both ends. I don’t really like that there is a hell. There is a lot in scripture I don’t like, but it’s still true.

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Phil Herrington
Phil Herrington

Pathways Church

  • Contact: 9639 Carlton Hills Blvd., Santee 619-449-1269 www.pathways.cc/
  • Average Attendance: 600
  • Pastor: Phil Herrington
  • Age: 64
  • Born: Waco, TX
  • Formation: Houston Baptist University; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX; Biola University-Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada
  • Years Ordained: 32

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your sermons?

Pastor Phil Herrington: I usually spend anywhere from eight to 12 hours a week on sermon preparation. We try to make our messages biblical but also interesting and relevant to the needs of people.

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

PH: The topic of grace. God is a God of grace and mercy. Those seem to be strong themes in my messages in the last 10 years or so. Grace and mercy, planted with plenty of truth, which is a big thing right now in relating to people in our culture. We live in a time when there is so much division and anger and confusion and the continuing ravaging effects of sin in our lives. We need to know we’re forgiven, and that God has made a way for us to know him and to find our true purpose in life.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PH: We exist to urgently lead people to know Jesus and passionately follow him. We have seven heart attitudinal values out of scripture that when someone wants to become a full-fledged card-sharing member of our church, we ask them to commit to these values. (1) We put the goals and interests of others above our own. (2) We want to live open and honest lives before others. (3) We want to give and receive scriptural correction. (4) We want to clear up relationships – asking for forgiveness when things go sideways in relationships, friendships. (5) We challenge people to participate in the ministry of the church – to get in the game. (6) We ask people to support the church, the work and ministry, financially. (7) We ask people to follow spiritual leadership within scriptural limits. We want to be known for authentic relationships, life transformation, outward focus, empowering people for impacting others — all of it wrapped around a lifestyle of worship.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PH: In grief and pain. We all expect these mountain-to transfiguring moments like Peter, James, and John had with Jesus, and often when I’ve experienced God, it’s mostly at the hands of the most severe kinds of mercy in my life. As I’ve walked through loss, death or grief in my family or my congregation, God reveals himself in such unmistakable ways that have created more growth than in any other moment of my life. Not a popular way to advertise for the church: “Come and suffer!” There’s a saying I read in a dusty old book I found in a bookstore once. “Suffering is the anvil on which God shapes our character.” I don’t know who said it or when, but that one stuck with me.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: I totally believe in a heaven and in a personal, real hell. It’s one of the motivating factors for why I’m still in the business at one church for 30 years. I want to make it hard to get to hell from Santee, California, and increase the population of heaven as much as I can. Scripture speaks clearly about a literal place at both ends. I don’t really like that there is a hell. There is a lot in scripture I don’t like, but it’s still true.

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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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