My wife and I had just bought our first house when I started finding beer bottles on my lawn on weekend mornings. I’d walk out and do the hey-who-did-this look-around, but couldn’t figure where they were coming from. One evening, I heard a noise I didn’t recognize and when I looked out, I saw five teenagers standing behind my neighbor’s shrubs, drinking beer, and throwing empty bottles right onto my lawn.
So I did what you might expect. I ran out and yelled to them to knock it off. But in our back and forth, one of the young men revealed who he was and over time a relationship between the two of us began.
Several months later, I saw that same sixteen-year-old sitting chin-in-hand on his family’s car. His brother had just been arrested, and he was really torn up about it.
I called him into my house and shared how God could get him through the situation. He prayed with me and decided to make Jesus the center of his life. I asked him to bring his sister over too, who had a crystal meth habit, and she also prayed to trust Jesus with her life that day.
Those two conversations led to the beginning of my first weekly Bible study with the kids in my neighborhood. It began to grow with more and more of the neighbor kids, made up of nine nationalities attending and soon, our house was packed with them and their friends. The experience of leading the Bible study is what led me to become a youth pastor, which led to the role I have today as Senior Pastor of Rock Church.
Nineteen years later, Rock Church is one of the largest churches in America with over 12,000 weekly attendees across five campuses and more than 140 outreach and community partner ministries. The Rock has a K-12 academy, a 3,500-seat sanctuary, we livestream our services around the world, send out missionaries across the globe, we have an app called Gospel Central where you can hear testimonies of God’s faithfulness, and a digital evangelistic tool called Text to Share where you can send the gospel message to someone you know via text. We also conduct an annual Christmas event called Toys for Joy where we give away thousands of toys to San Diego’s underprivileged—and there is much, much more. Since Rock Church began, we have made 81 million gospel presentations with more than 47,000 traditional salvations and over 1,190,000 online salvations.
Best of all is that none of this was done by me. Had it been left to me, it would have never gotten off the ground. God moved mightily, and I simply did my best to hang on. It’s the only explanation for the miracle of Rock Church. Yes, when you come to the Rock, you’re walking into a living, breathing miracle.
My guess is that most people would be more comfortable if they knew the church was started by a guy with a vision for it. But that’s not what happened. It started with a couple of guys tossing beer bottles on my lawn. In the end, the only one they caused trouble for was the enemy.