Meet Our Pastors
First, I suspect everybody likes to talk about themselves and few people like others to think they like to talk about themselves. Second, I realized today that I really have no idea if people even want to know about me and, if so, what would really be interesting to any given person. So, here I go with my attempt to share what I hope will be interesting to you…
In the last month, my daily tasks as pastor have consisted of serving in many ways. I have helped fix toilets, installed electrical outlets, designed worship services, enhanced photographs for publication, studied what motivates people to work, translated ancient Hebrew and Greek, reviewed the Constitution and Bylaws that guide our church and school, rewired the sound system, brainstormed with innovative people, taught someone how to use a Bluetooth device, learned a new computer program, dusted the rafters in the chapel, discovered a broken projector, broke a hammer drill while fixing a light post in the playground, tried to fix video surveillance equipment, sought to bring joy and inspiration to people, and counseled multiple people. While that is only the beginning of my full list of activities, I’ll spare you the rest of the list.
All of these things have allowed me to get to know many people and has enhanced our lives through building connections. It has always shocked me how broad a variety of things a pastor may be involved in and yet, how little familiarity people have with the life and work of their pastor. All this variety of offerings I bring to the table, somewhat by accident.
When I was younger, I remember going from one sport to the next. I played on teams for soccer, volleyball, ran track, cross-country, football, basketball, gymnastics, Kung Fu, diving, and swimming… some better than others. I have played violin, bass guitar, electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, percussion, keyboard, vocals, and I even joined in the occasional beat-boxing duel in middle school. My friends and I would make friends with the neighbors and the garbage men so that, in the event something electronic, mechanical, or any material that is possible to be repurposed might come our way.
When the old tape recorder, scrap wood, or broken appliance would show up, we would dissect it, fix it, build a bike ramp out of it, or use the parts to design an innovative clock or something fun. I remember building a lazy susan out of parts from an old VCR. I designed a wall clock using blades from circular and reciprocating saw blades. People would reflect on the jumping from one sport/project/game to the next as a negative symptom of non-committal or ADD. While that may be symptomatic and indicative of such things, it has also provided me with the variety to relate to people in many roles.
In college, I remember Dr. Anacker encouraging students to, “Read a lot and read widely.” When I heard that, I took it also to mean, “Learn and experience a lot, and without limit.” That finally provided some positive validation for the eclectic and seemingly random hopping from one thing to the next. After reflecting on all of this, I realize that each one of these experiences is what has given me with so many vehicles to connect with people.
The variety that God has blessed each of us with gives us a new way to serve, to connect, to enhance and inspire in places we may not have ever imagined. Through all of the things we have learned, we also make mistakes, sometimes failing miserably. However, it’s in those moments that we learn and become wiser in the way we make decisions. In the times we succeed, we realize that God has truly and richly blessed us all. The “Jack of all trades, master of none” is a reference to a generalist with no single specialty.
Rather than looking at it that way, I have chosen to see the variety as a specific focus on empathy, compassion, and incarnating as I take the words of the Apostle Paul, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:22–23). It is my hope that I will be able to keep experiencing life in new ways through serving as pastor. So, don’t be surprised if you see me doing some random task or if I might be able to connect with you or another in a way that might not seem like “pastor work”, that’s just who God has made me and how He leads me to bring His message and love to the people around me.
God bless you,
Pastor Matt Helfrich
Pastor Matt Helfrich
Pastor Matt Helfrich is the father of two daughters, Ava and Paige. He grew up in Iowa and came to California in 1995 to study the Bible. Graduating from the Lutheran Bible Institute of California, Concordia University in Irvine, Pastor Matt received his Masters of Divinity at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. In 2007 he began serving youth, family, music, mission, and outdoor camp ministries in Chicago, Valley Center (California), and now San Diego.
Having a strong desire to help others know Jesus, Pastor Matt has a calling to help people realize and grow into what God has richly gifted them in. He enjoys connecting people, strategic planning, continued education, and engaging in conversation covering a large variety of topics.
Pastor Matt had the opportunity to visit many places including The Holy Land, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Costa Rica, Mexico, and thirty of the fifty states. He likes playing guitar, reading, hiking, movies, camping, hanging out with friends and family, and meeting new people.
Vicar Benjamin Mai
Vicar Benjamin Mai is currently enrolled at Concordia University Irvine Seminary program known as The Cross-Cultural Ministry Center. Vicar Ben was born and raised in San Diego. He graduated from Mira Mesa High School in 2006, and San Diego State University in 2012.
Having grown up in Mira Mesa, Vicar Ben’s ministry project goal is to help carry Christ the Cornerstone into the future. He plans to make this happen through his desires to breakdown Christian stereotypes to lead others into a relationship with Jesus.
Currently, Vicar Ben has created a mission group known as the JLY Movement (Jesus Loves You) in hopes to evangelize through a "create your own worship" concept. He is conducting Vietnamese worship Service on Sunday afternoons at 5:30 pm. He also provides martial arts lessons to school and community children.
In his free time, Vicar Ben cycles, does archery, bowls, plays competitive flag football, and enjoys the comic genre in several capacities.