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Barabbas Road Church: the Bible is a counter-culture

All the people at the church are ministers.

Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith

Barabbas Road Church

Contact: 8253 Ronson Rd., San Diego 760-216-9081 www.barabbas.com

Membership: 500

Pastor: Matt Smith

Sponsored
Sponsored

Age: 43

Born: San Diego

Formation: University of California-Santa Barbara; Southern California Seminary, El Cajon.

Years Ordained: 15

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

Pastor Matt Smith: My sermons are exegetical. Most people are looking for exegetical preaching. I spend 20-25 hours of sermon preparation, and the sermons are about an hour and 15 minutes long. We go book by book. The first 10 years, we’d gone through the entire New Testament, and now we’re alternating between Old Testament and New Testament. The next book we want to do is the Gospel of Luke.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PS: We don’t live in a culture where there is such a thing as a non-believer. The cultural moment we’re in is not an apathetic culture anymore, but more and more it’s an antagonistic culture toward the gospels. We’re not in Athens; we’re in Babylon. So, Christians need to be a little more courageous to not be thought highly of. The Bible is a counter-culture and we truly are sojourners and aliens, and the church needs to accept that. In the past, our engagement with the culture has been to build walls, hide a bit, and blend in. But now we need to engage the culture by being in it but not of it. We also need to accept the consequences of people not liking us, and keeping our testimony in that moment, so that with gentleness and respect, we can speak the truth in the marketplace. We need as Christians to be trained from early on that we are missionaries in our own culture.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: The name Barabbas Road Church is great because as soon as you’re asked what it means, you have the share the gospel. Barabbas means “son of the father,” and as you see in scripture, he’s presented in the gospels as the man who is guilty of the exact crime of which Jesus is innocent; he’s mentioned at least six times in scripture. So, here’s this guilty son of the father, and he is let go as the innocent son of the father takes his place. It’s the perfect picture of substitution. He’s the first person to look at the cross and say, “That should be me.” So, it really gets immediately to the heart of the gospel. Our goal as a church is to make disciples through the personal investment of our lives with others. We tend to shun any programs. We don’t have any ministries at the church; we make ministers, not ministries. We emphasize that. And discipleship is the main thing we do at the church. We also never use the term “volunteer.” All the people at the church are ministers.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: Everyone meets God when they die. They are either going to enjoy God in heaven or they will face God’s wrath in hell. But everyone will face God when they die. They’ll go to heaven if they put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, or to hell if they don’t. But let me just say, the people in hell wouldn’t want to be in heaven if they could. They don’t want to go because they wouldn’t want to worship God, which is what they do in heaven. But we live forever, one way or another.

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Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith

Barabbas Road Church

Contact: 8253 Ronson Rd., San Diego 760-216-9081 www.barabbas.com

Membership: 500

Pastor: Matt Smith

Sponsored
Sponsored

Age: 43

Born: San Diego

Formation: University of California-Santa Barbara; Southern California Seminary, El Cajon.

Years Ordained: 15

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

Pastor Matt Smith: My sermons are exegetical. Most people are looking for exegetical preaching. I spend 20-25 hours of sermon preparation, and the sermons are about an hour and 15 minutes long. We go book by book. The first 10 years, we’d gone through the entire New Testament, and now we’re alternating between Old Testament and New Testament. The next book we want to do is the Gospel of Luke.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PS: We don’t live in a culture where there is such a thing as a non-believer. The cultural moment we’re in is not an apathetic culture anymore, but more and more it’s an antagonistic culture toward the gospels. We’re not in Athens; we’re in Babylon. So, Christians need to be a little more courageous to not be thought highly of. The Bible is a counter-culture and we truly are sojourners and aliens, and the church needs to accept that. In the past, our engagement with the culture has been to build walls, hide a bit, and blend in. But now we need to engage the culture by being in it but not of it. We also need to accept the consequences of people not liking us, and keeping our testimony in that moment, so that with gentleness and respect, we can speak the truth in the marketplace. We need as Christians to be trained from early on that we are missionaries in our own culture.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: The name Barabbas Road Church is great because as soon as you’re asked what it means, you have the share the gospel. Barabbas means “son of the father,” and as you see in scripture, he’s presented in the gospels as the man who is guilty of the exact crime of which Jesus is innocent; he’s mentioned at least six times in scripture. So, here’s this guilty son of the father, and he is let go as the innocent son of the father takes his place. It’s the perfect picture of substitution. He’s the first person to look at the cross and say, “That should be me.” So, it really gets immediately to the heart of the gospel. Our goal as a church is to make disciples through the personal investment of our lives with others. We tend to shun any programs. We don’t have any ministries at the church; we make ministers, not ministries. We emphasize that. And discipleship is the main thing we do at the church. We also never use the term “volunteer.” All the people at the church are ministers.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: Everyone meets God when they die. They are either going to enjoy God in heaven or they will face God’s wrath in hell. But everyone will face God when they die. They’ll go to heaven if they put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, or to hell if they don’t. But let me just say, the people in hell wouldn’t want to be in heaven if they could. They don’t want to go because they wouldn’t want to worship God, which is what they do in heaven. But we live forever, one way or another.

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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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