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The Ear: Jerry Arnold, Pastor-Evangelist


With his wife Karen, Jerry Arnold founded the Collegedale Community Church, near Southern Adventist University, in 2001.  The congregation now has 1,600 members. 

He has earned bachelor’s and D. Min. degrees from Andrews University, as well as a master’s degree from Southern Adventist University. Besides Karen (who writes children’s stories), his family includes three grown children and six grandchildren.

Here is Arnold’s perspective on pastoral leadership.

Question: You lead an Adventist congregation.  What is it that, as a leader, you hope to achieve?

Answer: My hope is for the congregation to ‘grow with God’.  With a view to both individuals and the congregation as a whole, there are eight things I pray for: 

  1.  Attendance at church. 
  2. Morality. 
  3. Spiritual growth. 
  4.  Finances. 
  5. Volunteers. 
  6. Health. 
  7. Families. 
  8.  Leaders.     

Question: Thoughtful members really appreciate a compelling — ideally, an insightful — sermon.  If there were one key to rising above mediocrity in preaching, what do you think it is?

Answer: The main key that I think is important, is studying to understand the text in its context.  When I study a verse for preaching/teaching I seek to answer two questions.  1.  What did this passage or verse mean to the people for whom it was written?  2.  What is the application to our lives?

Question: What is the most important factor in your own sermon preparation?  How does it relate to both the substance and the delivery of you sermons?

Answer: After I understand the verse/passage contextually, I begin asking questions about application to our daily lives.  The first question is, “So what?”  The hard part of sermon preparation then takes place.  It is meditating on the passage.  It is picking it up and looking at it from different angles.  The sermon will be meaningless if it doesn’t apply to everyday living.  I think the best sermons are sermons that answer questions that we all have.

Question: Your congregation has many members.  How is it possible for you to connect with your members so they actually see you as a pastor and not simply as a Sabbath morning preacher?  

Answer: It is impossible for me to be connected with all my members.  

Question: How do you pay attention both to evangelism and also to the care and keeping of your current members?

Answer: The current members are our evangelism.  Collegedale Community Church is built on the concept of invitation.  Our method of evangelism has been for the church members to invite their family and friends to attend our worship service.  Sheep reproduce sheep.

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