A Part of Something Bigger: The Launch of Sandals Church Moreno Valley

I have always wanted to be part of something BIG. I worked for my dad during and after college, and my sister once said to me, “You should get your masters degree and go work for a big company like Nike”. She knew I wanted to be part of something bigger and thought that was the best route to get there. I didn’t get my masters or work for Nike, but through the years I knew God was preparing me for something BIG. Like my sister, I thought it would be in business, but it was bigger than that. I became a campus pastor at Sandals Church. 

But between then and now, God was using me in BIG ways— in other people’s lives, my church, and my family. Growing up in church since I was 5 years old and being part of the church my parents were a part of starting in Riverside (Bible Fellowship of Riverside) was an amazing journey and foundation for me.  The foundation grew in high school when I began dating (my wife now) Denise.

In May of 2013, Denise and I went from a church of about 150 attendees (now called Bridges Church) to be just two of 5,000 at Sandals Church. This was a BIG leap for us—this was a mega church. God had called me into something bigger in this new role of being the Director of Family Ministries, which I had never done, and being on the Executive Team, which was a big deal. During all of this, I saw God working to use me as part of Sandals’ growth and also stretch me while using my experience, my talent, my personality, and my heart.

Denise and I are grateful for our move to Sandals Church. Before, we were stuck in our faith and desired something bigger. God saw us and invited us to something bigger and we said, “Yes”.

As Sandals Church grew and changed in the short 4 years since I started, the organizational structure shifted and my role was moving more towards one that required thinking more about the vision and strategy for Family Ministries. On a smaller scale I have done vision and strategy at other times in my life and thought I could step into it here, but, I realized after processing with my wife and praying about it, that I would rather be involved with people more and strategy less. I felt like the Little Mermaid singing, “I want to be where the people are”. I went to my boss and shared, “I think I want to be a campus pastor someday.” In my mind that someday was a year or two down the road. That was October 2016. The holidays came and went. In January my team went to Moreno Valley for a walk-through of Renewal Christian Fellowship, a possible new location for Sandals Church.  I went to help imagine the space for babies through 12th graders.  That was exciting and BIG!

On my calendar for January 17th I had a meeting scheduled with Pastor Matt and Dan Zimbardi  that was labelled  “2017 and Next Steps”. I wasn’t completely sure what this was about, but I soon found out as they asked me to be the campus pastor for the new Moreno Valley campus. Me? A pastor? At Sandals Church? Wait, I had said a few months back maybe I could be a campus pastor “someday”. Well, that someday was here. Such an exciting, terrifying, and BIG ask. So many emotions and things to process and pray through in order to make the best and right decision. This was BIG!

During this time of transition from Family Ministries Director to Campus Pastor, I heard the song “Bigger Than” by For All Seasons and it hit me so hard. He is BIGGER THAN all my dreams and fears. I can’t tell you exactly when and where I heard it that January and why it stuck, but it hit me hard and it was in my head during the next months of transition. This song is very special for me, and when I hear it today it takes me back to these months.

You are bigger than all my fears

God of love, God my love

You are bigger than all my dreams

God my hope, God my peace

Whatever will come my way

Through each day I will say

God I trust You, I trust You

It was my go-to song. It was the song I listened to regularly. It was the song I often cried to during a time when God was stretching me so much. There were a few other things going on in my life at the same time; a few BIG things. My daughter Amber got married in January, we moved to a new home in February, and then launched SC Moreno Valley in April on Easter Sunday. God is BIGGER THAN all these things and BIGGER THAN all my fears and dreams.

God prepared me to be a campus pastor. God groomed me over years and years to be ready for these BIG steps and I trusted him enough to say yes and step into the next thing with faith and confidence. What is God preparing you for in the future? What are you learning and growing in today that is preparing you for the future? What is God going to do BIG in your life and with your life? I pray that you will see God and step into the next BIG thing He is calling you to.

I love being a campus pastor. I am grateful to be a campus pastor. God has opened up more space for people in the Moreno Valley area to come and be real. Being real is a BIG step for so many people. When I read Joshua 1, I am challenged and encouraged by the words “be strong and courageous”. God reminds Joshua of this over and over, “be strong and courageous”. I pray that you will be strong and courageous today as you press into God about your next BIG step.

Thank you Denise for being my partner as God has called us to BIG things. Thank you Pastor Matt and Sandals Church for trusting me as a campus pastor. Thank you God for seeing me and knowing my heart to be part of something BIG and then inviting me into it.

Personal Reflection Guide

Take a moment to prayerfully reflect on your dreams. Don’t shy away from thinking they are too big, too impossible, or too grandiose. Pay attention to the moments in your life when you knew God was tugging at your heart. What was stirred in you in those moments?

Lay those dreams prayerfully before God. Ask God what he wants you to do with them. Is there an action step you need to take? What needs to be shed from your life in order for you to be prepared to step into those dreams if/when he opens the door? Perhaps it’s a list with two columns: One for “shedding” (getting rid of the sin that so easily entangles), and one for “donning” (clothing ourselves in Christ). Ask God to give you honesty and courage as you populate this list.

Write a prayer to God. Ask Him to continue to grow you in the areas listed above. In your prayer, invite him to refine your dreams. Are they too small? Are they self-centered and not Kingdom-centered? Are they relying on your strength and not God’s? Give these to God, and allow him to use them (and you) in his mighty ways.  

Finally, reflect on this. While stuck in prison, Paul, unable to take “big” action steps, simply wrote letters — to real people in real churches. He was faithful in these pursuits, having no clue how big God’s purpose for those letters really was. His big dreams to grow the Church in his era became the foundation of the Church’s growth throughout modern history – all because he was stuck in prison and forced to write letters. We simply never know how God can use our small acts of faithfulness to accomplish massive, mighty, and impactful things. May God bless your courage to dream big dreams, may he bless your faith in the little things, and may those with whom you come in contact be ever blessed as a result.

One thought on “A Part of Something Bigger: The Launch of Sandals Church Moreno Valley

  1. It’s great to read your backstory and how the Lord is transforming you into His image! God bless you!

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