Nearly 35 years ago, a man prophesied that Jerry and Sandy Barnard’s fourth baby would be special. They were told that the baby, still in Sandy’s womb, would be a boy, and he would preach the Gospel.
Earlier this year at a Barnard family get-together, Steve’s grandmother reminded him of those words. Yes, he had grown up in the church and was on staff as business manager of San Diego Lighthouse Church in La Mesa, but he wasn’t the pastor.
And the Barnard heritage of pastoring went back five generations. Make that six generations now, since on Feb. 26, Steve Barnard, age 34, was installed as pastor of the congregation his father had pastored under the name of the Christian Faith Centre for 22 years.
“I belong here” he said during an interview in the same office where his father had ministered for so long. “I know this is where I belong. It was boiling inside me, to be a pastor, and it was going to come out. I have lots of ideas. I’m really motivated and can’t wait to start.”
Steve Barnard assumed the pastorate three years after his father retired from the position. Internationally renowned Dr. Larry Lea has been pastor the last three years and last year the church changed its name to San Diego Lighthouse Church. There was excitement when he was first named pastor and there has been a series of messages that have been “right on” for the congregation. However, insiders agree that the church suffered because Lea spent so much time out of the country. He was often gone three Sundays a month on ministry trips.
Lea, the bestselling author of Could You Not Tarry One Hour?, has written a new book, Releasing the Prayer Anointing. He travels throughout the world, teaching about prayer in seminars and crusades, and also by television to Israel and the Middle East.
“We were blessed to have Dr. Lea heading the church,” Steve Barnard said, “but it was just for a season. His call is to the nations, but he will continue to base his international ministry here in San Diego, and we’ll hopefully be able to have him preach at Lighthouse when he’s in town.
Jerry Barnard will also be seen more at Lighthouse, assuming what his son calls the role of “grandfather of the church.”
“He’s going to be my mentor,” Steve said. “He has so much experience and God-given talent.”
Jerry and Sandy Barnard began ministering in San Diego in 1972 at the converted Pussycat Theater in National City. Two years later they moved to the El Cortez Theater in downtown San Diego. Christian Faith Centre then moved to Sixth and Fir in San Diego before leasing an elementary school in La Jolla for a number of years. It moved into its current facility, the former home of Faith Chapel, in 1986.
When Jerry and Sandy Barnard left the pastorate in 1994, it was because he felt a calling to minister abroad. He has traveled extensively in the three years, ministering in such places as Viet Nam, Bosnia, Sweden, Australia, and Cambodia.
The choice of Dr. Larry Lea to take his place was a major story in the Christian media. Lea was former pastor of a church of 10,000 people in Rockwall, Texas, but his reputation was damaged by a national news magazine piece. Allegations that he mishandled money were later retracted, but people remembered the initial report rather than the truth.
Steve Barnard stayed at the church, helping with the transition and proving his value. He said he wasn’t ready at that time to be pastor. He was still single and is the youngest of four children in the family. Twins Sandy (Cass) and Jerry Jr. are the oldest, followed by Star. Sandy’s husband, Gary Cass, was associate pastor under Jerry, but left to become a Vineyard pastor when Dr. Lea was appointed. He is currently pastoring Westhills Christian Fellowship in Santee.
“I’m ready to go now,” Steve said. “It’s been my parents’ dream since I was a baby. It’s been my dream as well.”
It’s a unique time in Steve Barnard’s family not only because he’s the new senior pastor, but also because he and Carrie, married 3 years, are expecting their first child in April.
“Would I like a boy and to see him one day become a pastor? You bet!”
Steve Barnard said he had a vision for the church being able to meet the needs of all the people in the congregation, from nursery to adult. “We should be the best that God has for the entire family. We are here to care for the individual, their family and their friends.”
Building plans for Lighthouse include razing several old classroom structures and building new two-story education facilities, building a new youth center and amphitheater, and adding a daycare center and gym. He would also like to establish a satellite Bible college.
“This is our home. Our vision for the church may be a little different,” Steve said. “My father has always been charismatic, and I see the church a little back towards the middle. I want conservatives to feel comfortable here, too – to be appealing to both. Our number one goal is for their spiritual walk to come first.
“I would also like to build a television ministry in San Diego. My father’s Christian Communications Network was a major service for the Christian community, but we couldn’t keep it going. I’d like to see us able to provide something similar again – but that’s down the road.”
He sees the church needing to reach out to the community, but commented, “Why reinvent the wheel?” in explaining a unique benevolence partnership with the Salvation Army. “We’ll supply materials and people,” he said. “Once a month is ‘Benevolence Sunday’ and our people bring in food for the needy. We’ll also continue to ‘take care of our own.’ We have many new programs starting, such as homes for troubled youths, runaways, unwed mothers, and seniors. I want to preach the Word and allow people to hear and be motivated, and then give them the opportunity to be doers of the Word by allowing them to minister in one of these homes or one of our many missions teams, retreat centers, day care, library, or aids hospice.
“We are also going to open Joel’s Java House/Light Club in July. This will be a place for everyone – on the weekend nights it will become The Light Club, providing entertainment and fellowship, and on Saturday and Sunday mornings we will have traditional services.
“When our new annex is built, we will provide a K-6 and Bible school. When a person graduates from our Bible school, they will have the opportunity of serving in one of our regional churches around the world as an intern or ambassador, or on one of our missions teams, such as construction, disaster relief, sports, music and many more. I believe in unifying our efforts so that the world will see us as one.”
Steve also believes in the importance of “unity in the body” of pastors and churches in the area meeting together. On March 9, a significant unity meeting was conducted, with Steve Barnard receiving prayer from Jerry Barnard, brother-in-law Gary Cass, former associate pastor Ben Griffith and others from San Diego.
Music leader at Lighthouse is Tim Miner, who is a former artist with Motown Records and Frontline Records. He is still actively working as a singer/producer/songwriter, working in recent times with artists such as Al Green, Paula Abdul, Gladys Knight, Steve Perry, B.B. and CeCe Winans, Wayne Watson, Crystal Lewis and others.
“What we are buliding here is something that will last,” said Pastor Steve.
For more information, contact the church at 687-5800.