As I travel to speak in the Midwest and South, when Southern Baptists learn I am from California, the reactions are predictable, frustrating, and sometimes amusing. The most common response is “I’m sorry for you”—as if living in California is akin to a spiritual prison sentence. Other responses are often phrased as questions, “Why would you want to live in that awful place?” or “How do you put up with California crazies?” are good examples.

The negative mythical perceptions about California are rooted in some realities. There are significant challenges to living here—just as there are in most other places in the world. What always puzzles me is how the same Southern Baptists who decry living in California celebrate missionaries who live in any other part of the world. We affirm those who take on secular and spiritual challenges in other places, but struggle with brothers and sisters who do it in California.

Well, what I am about to write will cause some of these folks to question my sanity—and maybe my salvation! California, particularly Southern California, is my favorite place I have ever lived. It beats out Oregon, Missouri, and even Texas (my Texas relatives, no doubt, are shaking their heads and may disavow me after that comment). Why is this my favorite place?

First, the superficial answers. The weather is awesome. The entertainment options are prolific. The sports teams are entertaining—and represent every major professional league and college level. The people are warm and welcoming. The economy is booming. Jobs are plentiful. The beach and the mountains are both less than an hour from my house. There are classic cars everywhere. The food scene is creative. Museums are world-class and there is more live entertainment than anyone can possibly get to in a lifetime.

Now, the more substantial answer. Mission opportunities are endless and the freedom to creatively do ministry is boundless. Yes, secular cultural ideas and ideals dominate the mindset—but that’s true in every global mission field. Rampant secularism demands a robust gospel, not a retreat from declaring the gospel. The gospel, believe it or not, actually thrives in our area. While many people consider California a spiritual wasteland, that’s simply not true. Many Christian ministries that have changed the world got their start in Southern California (more about that next week).            

One of my hopes for Southern Baptists coming to Anaheim for their annual convention this summer is many will leave with a new understanding of life in the Golden State. Rather than parrot tired myths, come with your spiritual eyes open and learn how God is working in this part of his world.


Read More

Forgiveness, Restoration, and Pastoral Integrity

Forgiveness, restoration, and pastoral integrity are pressing issues in our generation – as they have been throughout history and will be in the future. Yet, as believers, our commitment to robust church fellowship demands we do this hard work.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

When Words Fail

Dr. Iorg responds to the Tyre Nichols tragedy and commends the response of the Nichols family.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Relationships Matter: Confirmed Again

Dr. Iorg reaffirms the importance of relationships and asks the church to make three choices to promote healthy community.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Listen

10 Questions with 10 Pastors
January 31, 2023

Brian Simms

In this new episode, our host is joined by Brian Simms, senior pastor of CrossPointe Church in Fontana, CA. Pastor Brian shares his process of how choosing the sermon themes for the year, how he gets organized for the week, and how he has grown over the years.
Lead On Podcast
January 29, 2023

Women in Ministry with Dr. Alicia Wong

Dr. Iorg and talks with Dr. Alicia Wong about the various roles women can take in ministry and especially in church planting.

Watch

Spirituality of Jonathan Edwards | JEC at Gateway Seminary

Dr. Chris Chun hosted a digital symposium with Dr. Michael Haykin and Dr. Robert Caldwell to discuss Edwards’ spirituality, devotional life and theological impact in American Christianity.

Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

Faculty Dialogues: Dispensationalism or Not

In this episode of Faculty Dialogues, Dr. David Rathel and Dr. Paul Wegner held a live discussion on their views on dispensationalism.

David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

Get updates on new content!