It’s been 19 years since I last saw my friend Alan Botkin. We played baseball together with the St. Louis Cardinals in the minors. Alan was integral in my early understanding of Christianity. He was a constant encouragement during our two seasons together (1992-1993) in St. Petersburg Florida. We traveled the Southeast with the Cardinals and our own Southern side trip to a Clemson vs. Florida State Football game and a visit of ACC and SEC schools right after our baseball season ended.
We went to Bible studies together, found a church to go to together and learned what it meant to be a professional athlete and a Christian together.
Today, after 19 years we met for lunch to catch up on what has been going on all these years. What a great time. He was in San Diego for a conference (he currently lives in Charlotte, NC). We reminisced about our time with the Cardinals and our travels and our Pro Athlete’s Outreach (PAO) conferences http://www.pao.org/ which were so forming in our spiritual development.
Listen, good friends are good friends no matter how long you’ve been apart. I want to encourage you to reconnect with your friends. How many of you have friends you haven’t seen in a long, long, time? It’s a huge blessing to reconnect and catch up.
Everyone always says, “Wow…I can’t believe it’s been…and fill in the blank on how many years it’s been since…”
Part of me says the last 5 years have gone by fast. Another part of me feels the last five years have felt like 10 or 20 sometimes. I guess it just depends on the moment.
We moved back home to San Diego after seven years in the High Desert towns of Victorville and Apple Valley serving at one of the greatest churches in the world, High Desert Church.
We arrived in San Diego on June 18, 2007 and hit the ground running to start Seven San Diego Church with our first preview service scheduled for October 7 and our official launch scheduled for February 8, 2008.
The next day we received news that Janie’s (my wife) mom had cancer. Carol continues to battle cancer 5 years later and is an inspiration to me and thousands of others. See her story here http://skylinechurch.org/#/carol-garlow
Our family has moved seven, count that SEVEN times since June of 2007. I hate moving… can’t stand it… but God says move and you move.
We have lived in Santee, West Chula Vista, East Chula Vista, El Cajon/Rancho San Diego, Santee again and now Alpine. 7SD Church has been in Chula Vista and Lakeside and now looking to expand multi-site to Alpine. The church has grown from a core group of 12 people to 20 to 100 to over 700 people in less than 5 years since our doors officially opened.
God has brought amazing people along the journey, workers for the Harvest! Some I liken to incredibly helpful scaffolding early on. Getting the church going and helping it build to the next level before moving on. Others have been with us from the beginning and still others are joining the mission every week.
The goal and dream has been to reach lost people in the mold and form of Jesus. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “I have come to seek and save the Lost.” That has been our primary goal and will always be the goal of Seven San Diego. We must reach those who are far from God. People who know God must look to reach those who do not know God. That’s why we always say, “Found People Find People.”
It takes “grown up” or “mature” Christians to be willing to do this. People that think outside themselves. We are grateful that those on board understand this and are focused on reaching those outside the walls of the church and welcoming them to a place where, as we always say, “No Perfect People Allowed.”
Our next steps as a church is, as mentioned, multi-site and a home-base where we can have a permanent Sunday facility. We currently meet at the community center in Lakeside and it has served us well and we have served the community center well. We have a great partnership with the leaders of the community center. We are so thankful for them.
Our search for more permanent facilities has taken us so close to finalizing properties that it’s almost funny. How many of you remember the “Lane Furniture” building in Chula Vista. We had an oral agreement and were a signature on the dotted line away from a long-term lease when they pulled back http://gallery.me.com/jmcgarity#100076
Today, we have church offices in Lakeside which we have expanded multiple times and are now out of room. We have classes, Bible studies, counseling, kids and youth events and many activities going on all the time.
It’s an exciting time in the life of Seven San Diego Church. It’s an honor to pastor a church with a ton of people focused on the same mission, “Seek and Save the Lost.”
5 years can go by so fast. I think about the fact that our boys were 3 and 6 when we got here and now they’re 8 and 11. Some prime kid years and they have some great church planting experiences to recall.
5 years can go by so slow. The constant plodding, searching, advertising, reaching, setting up, tearing down, setting up, tearing down, did I mention the setting up and tearing down? In the beginning of the ministry it was the anxiety of hope, hoping someone would show up to a) set up b) to the service.