For missionaries, ministers...also candlestick makers

Pastor Brian Tallman has concerns about the ignorance among clergy

Brian Tallman, pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church in La Mesa
  • Brian Tallman, pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church in La Mesa

New Life Presbyterian Church of La Mesa

New Life Presbyterian Church

5333 Lake Murray Boulevard, La Mesa

Membership: 437

Pastor: Brian Tallman

Age: 39

Born: San Diego

Formation: Southern California Bible College, El Cajon; the Masters Seminary, Sun Valley; Bethel Seminary, San Diego

Years Ordained: 12

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

Pastor Brian Tallman: The good news of Christ — that he lived, died, and rose again. I try to preach that from every book of the Bible and every sermon. That’s the central story and message of the Bible. The Old Testament points to that message and the New Testament explains that message and expands on it for us.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PT: I’m concerned about the ignorance among the clergy with all things liturgical, and worship in general — how it works, why we do it, and why we do the things we do. There seems to be a lack of any knowledge of history and the elements that have traditionally gone into the liturgy. From a Protestant perspective — an Evangelical perspective, even — sadly creeping into reform churches and Lutheran churches and even some Anglican churches is this wholesale making up of worship as if nothing has existed for 2000 years. Secondly, related to my concern for liturgy is the prevailing gnosticism among Evangelicals and Protestants in general and members of the clergy in particular. There’s this idea of a spirituality devoid of regular life, the Lord’s supper and the bodily existence we’ve been given.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PT: New Life exists to know God and make him known in the ways that he’s called us to know him and make him known, namely, through the Lord’s supper and the Bible. Word and sacrament are important aspects of the mission. We pride ourselves on what we call the ordinary means of grace. We focus on those ordinary things where God promises to meet us —word and sacrament. Those are the places where the gospel is presented to us. We emphasize the doctrine of vocation, which is not something only for missionaries and ministers, but also for doctors and lawyers and butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. We encourage our people to be good and faithful workers and not to be embarrassed by the fact that it’s unspiritual for them to go to work; to the contrary, it’s profoundly spiritual to be an electrician or plumber.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?

PT: The strangest place I met him was in water, wine, and bread. It’s a strange thing that God would deign to meet with his people in some of the most mundane and ordinary things of our existence, and that really is the hallmark of our congregation.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: The body goes to the ground and the soul of the righteous go to be with God. But regarding the afterlife, aside from two verses in the New Testament, God doesn’t talk about that intermediate state. The emphasis is more on time of the resurrection, when all the bodies in the ground will be raised, the Earth will be made whole and right once again, once and for all, and the righteous Christians will be with God and Christ in the new heaven and new Earth with new glorified bodies, and the unrighteous will be in a place called hell. They’ll have resurrected bodies and a bodily existence as well.

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