The language of the hammer

Pastor Alvin Helms: “There is going to be a final separation and there is going to be justice rendered.”

Carlsbad Community Church's Pastor Alvin Helms
  • Carlsbad Community Church's Pastor Alvin Helms

Carlsbad Community Church

Carlsbad Community Church

3175 Harding Street, Carlsbad

Membership: 400

Pastor: Alvin Helms

Age: 55

Born: Houston, TX

Formation: Seven Bible College, Houston; Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT

Years Ordained: 25

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Alvin Helms: I hope that grace is the subject that comes through in all my sermons and teachings. Grace is the center point of the gospel and I want to be a gospel preacher and faithful to the gospel message — that salvation is a gift of grace and is not something we can earn or merit, or something we deserve or are born with; rather, it’s a gift from God to us as we put trust in him for our salvation and for answering those big questions of life. The message of grace has always been meaningful and it’s always encouraging to know that it’s not something I can earn or lose, or that God’s happy with me today and mad at me tomorrow.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PH: In my mid-20s, through long seasons of prayer and reflection, I came to the conclusion I was called to do this.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PH: Our mission statement is: “To know Jesus and to make him known.” That was the official mission statement before I came here and we try to keep Jesus the main thing. There’s a quote [by Christian apologist Tim Keller] that helped me understand what the congregation was leading up to with that vision statement. “The gospel is neither religion nor irreligion, but something else entirely, a third way of relating to God through grace.” That encapsulated what this church is about — not just a bunch of do’s and don’ts, but a community trying to relate to the world, each other, and God through that understanding of unmerited favor we receive from God. We seek to be a community of grace — or a community of the forgiven.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PH: I’ve done a lot of work over the years with Habitat for Humanity in the county and getting churches of all denominations together and raising money for the poor. You’re there with many different religious tribes — and I used that term in the best sense of the word — and with all those differences the theology of the hammer connects us to help someone who just needs a house. We once had an Evangelical Christian group build a house for a Buddhist family. It was wonderful to get close to that culture and recognize that although we didn’t believe what they believed, and they didn’t believe what we believed, the language of the hammer and love through service was powerful.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: I take the traditional biblical view of heaven and hell because I believe the Bible is true. That means a couple things: there is going to be a final separation and there is going to be justice rendered. At some point, there are going to be consequences for people who don’t put their trust in God and his work. Who gets to go to heaven and who doesn’t? I certainly don’t try to be the arbiter of that question, nor do I want to be. But if you take the Bible serious, and many people don’t, there are consequences to choosing to commit your life to Christ or walking away from that commitment.

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