Many years ago, I made a decision to learn to surf. I was in my early 20’s and I knew very little about what I was doing. Soon I made a friend from work who loved to surf and was quite good. We became thick as thieves and surfed regularly. The long drives to the beach flew by with good company. Our shared love for waves bonded us and our desire for good waves brought us to San Clemente. It is hard to quantify the miles we put on our cars going to Trestles and back, the amount of times we ate an early lunch at Wahoo’s, or how many times we snuck into San Mateo campground.
My friend and I worked together at a wonderful church in Whittier, California. We loved Whittier and I thought I would never leave. But we did dream and often pray about what it would look like for God to call us to serve a church in San Clemente. I must have prayed a thousand or so times, while driving back up the 5 freeway, for God to call me south. My friend found greener pastures elsewhere and we still surf from time to time, but I will always miss our days of commuting and dreaming.
Almost a year ago, God made it clear that He was calling me and my family to leave my church home for almost 35 years. I was unclear at the time what was next, but after a few months a job posting caught my eye. From the moment I spoke to Peter, drove onto 190 Avenida La Pata, and met with Roger I felt like God was up to something. My prayers asking God to call me to San Clemente became prayers to join the Heritage family. From the moment my wife, kids, and I came to the church building for worship, we were impressed. Even my oldest son said one afternoon, “Dad, this is our church.”
There is so much I can say about Heritage. The staff are passionate and real. The elders are genuine and invested. But there is nothing more special than the people. The people (a reflection of the pastors and elders) are some of the most welcoming, friendly, and caring folks I have ever encountered. On one drive home my wife and I kept saying over and over that this was not like anything we had experienced before because we felt the joy of true fellowship and the reflection of a heavenly community.
I do not write this to toot your horn or brag. I tell you all this because I truly believe there is something special about this community of believers. I believe that the people in South Orange County are longing for meaning and belonging. People want to be a part of a healthy family in their deepest core. People are longing to experience the presence of God. People are dying to hear that they are valued and appreciated.
Heritage, I thank you so much for welcoming me and my family with open arms. This transition has felt almost effortless in a lot of ways (even though packing up stuff and moving sucks) and that is because we have been welcomed to the family in such an intentional, authentic way. But what about the other hundreds of guests who walk through our doors? What about the thousands of people who live in this city? What about your neighbors?
Heritage, if you direct your best efforts to pursuing others, introducing them to your church family, telling them that they are valued, and that you are so glad they are here, then what would happen to our town? If you turn your eyes to guests and neighbors in the way you treated me and my family, then people will long to be a part of the Heritage family. People will share the word that the most welcoming place in South Orange County is Sundays at 190 Avenida La Pata, San Clemente, 92673. And it is here at Heritage Christian Fellowship that we proclaim Jesus’s death and resurrection, the only thing that can change our world and bring heaven on earth. Jesus is the only one to give meaning. He is the one that sets the captives free.
This Sunday (and EVERY Sunday), look for people who have the look of new. Don’t make them feel awkward for being new. Care about them in the genuine way that you know. Invite others to family. Welcome them home.
Associate Pastor of Family Ministries