"The BAT program taught me to love reading (I thought that would never happen), it taught me to love God’s Word, and it taught me discipline. It prepared and equipped me to preach and help lead a great church in Riverside."

Quick Facts

Program: Bachelor of Applied Theology
Graduation Year: 2006
Current Job Title: Lead Pastor at The Grove Community Church
Hometown: Riverside, CA
Current City: Riverside, CA

Life at CBU

Why did you choose your major? What interested you in this particular field of study?
I chose the BAT major because I was looking into being a pastor and this degree was custom-made for pastors. I met the dean of the program back in 2002 and we hit it off right away. When I heard Dr. Dan talk about the BAT program I was sold. I loved his vision for it, but I was also drawn to his heart. I wanted to learn from a man like him. I soon realized Dr. Dan was not the only professor who had a heart for raising up pastors. CBU’s School of Christian Ministry is filled with amazing professors. 

What did you like about being in this program at CBU?
I liked the personal interaction I had with the professors. I liked being in the same classes with the same guys all four years. I liked how challenging it was. I was pushed to my limits and challenged to grow as a student and as a follower of Christ. This program took me to the next level in my understanding of the Bible. The BAT program taught me to love reading (I thought that would never happen), it taught me to love God’s Word, and it taught me discipline, and helped me develop a heart to serve in full-time ministry faithfully. To this day, I thank God for bringing me to CBU to be in the BAT program. 

What did you think about your professors?
The professors were fantastic. Every class challenged me. One professor ended up pouring into me on a mentorship level for my last three years. To this day, I am very close to the dean of Christian Ministries and the former dean. I still call them when I have questions in preparing for sermons. They are not just my professors, but they have now become my friends. They now tell me to call them by their first names, but I still refer to them as Dr. Morgan and Dr. Dan. They are some of the most solid men I have met and I was honored to study under them.

Did you complete an internship?
I interned at The Grove Community Church in Riverside, California. I enjoyed working there because I could use and practice all of the skills I was developing in the classroom at CBU. My internship eventually turned into a full-time job. I ended up serving as the junior high pastor for two years, the high school pastor for five-and-a-half years and have served as the lead pastor for the past three years.

Did you participate in anything else at CBU?  
I played soccer at CBU and I was a FOCUS leader in addition to being a BAT student. It kept my schedule extremely busy, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I loved it all.

How did you grow as a person while in this program at CBU?
I definitely grew as a person spiritually and educationally. I grew spiritually by learning more about the Bible. It developed in me a healthy fear of the Lord in interpreting the Bible and in communicating who God is to those entrusted in my ministry. Educationally speaking, I learned to discipline myself to read and write. I knew how to do those things in high school, but I was the king of cutting corners. I used to love CliffsNotes and talking myself into a good grade. Once I got to CBU and decided to be a pastor, I knew I needed to learn to be a good student. I didn’t just want to get a good grade, but I truly wanted to learn about God and His Word because I knew the responsibility I would one day take on in pastoring His people. For the first time in my life, I developed a love for learning. It took a lot of time and the work was not easy, but I would not have the study habits I do today if it wasn’t for the BAT program.

Did your major help you figure out your purpose? 
I knew my purpose was to follow God faithfully before I came to CBU thanks to my parents and my home church. I felt called to ministry, but I didn’t know in which area. To be honest I didn’t care where I ended up long-term. I just wanted to be faithful to follow God where He was calling me. My favorite verse in the Bible is Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” I have had many plans that have not worked out, but God has always been faithful to direct my steps where he wants. I didn’t know God was going to direct my steps to pastor my home church of 4,000 people. This was not my dream job nor my goal in life, but I believe God has put me in this position for His purposes. I have no doubt that God brought me to CBU to be in the BAT program to prepare me for what he had in store. I would not be where I am today if it was not for my time in the BAT program.

Life after CBU

What have you done since graduating?
After I graduated from CBU, I lived in Chile for a year. I wanted to learn to fall in love with missions so I asked my church to send me to one of the best missionaries we support. They told me to go to Chile and serve with a man named Doug Kallestad. I lived in Chile for a year, became fluent in Spanish, developed a heart for missions, and fell more in love with the local church and how God uses His people to reach the nations. While I was in Chile, my senior pastor Tom Lance offered me a job to come back home and be the junior high pastor at The Grove Community Church. I told him I would take the job if he would hold it for another six months until my one-year commitment was up in Chile. He agreed. That began my full-time journey at The Grove.

I was the junior high pastor for two years, then served as the high school pastor for five-and-a-half years, and then was asked to be the lead pastor almost three years ago. I am currently in a succession plan with our senior pastor as he will be stepping down in February 2020 and I have been asked to take his place. In 2015, I was awarded the Young Alumni of Achievement Award from CBU. In 2016, I finished my Master of Theology from Gateway Seminary. (It only took me nine years!)

How has your major and time at CBU prepared you for your life and career after college?
It prepared and equipped me to preach and help lead a great church in Riverside.

How are you making a difference in the world? How are you living your purpose?
I serve at a church where we support 87 missionary units. God is using The Grove to make the gospel known all over the world. I get to preach with a team of great men to thousands of people every week, encouraging them to remember the hope we have in Christ, and challenging them to make that hope known all through our city and world. I hope and pray I am living a faithful life that honors our Lord Jesus Christ in everything I do and say. I believe God has me right where He wants me. However, if He directs my steps elsewhere, I am committed to follow Him. There is nothing better than being faithful to where God leads you.

Would you recommend CBU to others?
One hundred percent. The school is growing and thriving. The professors in the School of Christian Ministry are fantastic. I thank God I had the chance to go to CBU and I hope to stay connected to this great university as long as I live.