Submitted by Mike Yeager, Executive Pastor, Awaken Church
This letter is in response to the article published on May 8th, 2023, entitled “Controversial Awaken Church Plans Expansion into Coronado.” My name is Mike Yeager, and I am one of the executive pastors at Awaken Church. I live in Coronado with my wife and three kids and we will be the campus pastors of the Coronado campus when it launches.
There has been a lot said in our community about our church as of late, so I would like to formally introduce myself to the community and provide some clarity on the intentions and beliefs of Awaken Church. My wife and I moved to San Diego in 2012 from Dallas, Texas, so that I could pursue a Ph.D. in structural engineering at UC San Diego. If you ever have a sleepless night, you can find my dissertation on Google Scholar and you will be asleep before you are through the abstract.
As newlyweds in a new city, and with personal baggage and dysfunction plaguing my life and our marriage, my wife started looking for a church. I was very resistant when she dragged me to Awaken Church (C3 San Diego at the time). Almost immediately, our lives began to change right before our eyes. We met amazing friends who inspired us to pursue a deeper relationship with God and to take responsibility for impacting our city for the better. The Bible teaching during Sunday services unlocked areas of our lives that had been stuck or dysfunctional for years. I personally witnessed the chains of addiction fall off of my life, and I began to experience a level of personal freedom I had never known before. And so, ten years later, we are in love with God’s Church and believe that it is the hope of the world.
My wife and I love Coronado. We want to live here forever. We want to raise our children here. We believe that this city needs more life-giving churches, not fewer. We believe Coronado will be better with a church like ours. Our church believes that there is one true God and that He entered humanity in the form of Jesus Christ. It is as if William Shakespeare had written himself as a character into one of his plays so that the other characters might personally know their creator. Our church believes that God designed the world to work a certain way. Our church believes that when human beings live their lives according to those principles, which are revealed in God’s infallible Word, that these principles produce maximum human flourishing. Our church believes that a truly surrendered Christian life is marked by joy, transformation, responsibility, adventure, blessing, and a desire to see others around you experience the same. Our church believes that Christians should influence culture, not the other way around. Our church believes that it gives God great joy and pleasure to see His people prosper in all areas of life, marriage, family, children, finances, career, and in our physical, emotional and mental health.
The published article chose to pull quotes and excerpts out of context to paint our church in a negative light. For example, Ps. Jurgen Matthesius, the lead pastor of Awaken Church was quoted as saying, “Our vision is 16 campuses around San Diego – literally, surround the city and then we can say, ‘Come out with your hands up, we have you surrounded.’” This is 100% true, I have heard Ps. Jurgen say this many times. In context, however, it is a play on words where he further clarified that by “hands up” he means hands lifted in worship and adoration to God, not as some sign of surrender to a hostile take-over. A significant portion of the article highlighted the prevalence of “wartime allusions” used by our church. The bible, including the New Testament, is filled with metaphor and allusion to life as a battle (See II Corinthians 10, I Peter 5, Ephesians 6). But these battles are not physical battles against physical enemies; they are spiritual battles of the heart and mind. Any Christian who does not understand and recognize this is out of alignment with orthodox Christianity and apparently doesn’t read the same Bible that I do.
Regarding the source quoted in the article, I don’t know Ps. Chris Rosebrough. However, I find it sad that a Christian pastor would spend time and energy criticizing a church that may differ in means and methods from his denomination instead of unifying over the fundamentals of faith that we both hold dear.
In closing, I wish that the journalist who authored this article would have taken the time to speak to people who actually call Awaken Church home. There are thousands and thousands of people that come to our church every week across our 8 campuses. We have no official membership requirements or process at all. They come and keep coming because they encounter God and their lives are better off. I wish she would have asked them about their experience at Awaken Church. I wish she would have interviewed any of the thousands of people who have made their way through Awaken Recovery, a biblically-based 12 step program that has set them free from the bonds of addiction. I wish she would have interviewed people who attended our Night of Christmas production at the Rady Shell where we gave all proceeds to local charities to give back to the city that we love so much. I wish she would have attended a worship service for herself to experience our powerful worship, compelling bible teaching, and loving church family.
For anybody that is curious about our church, come visit us at any one of our San Diego locations and see for yourself what our church is like. If you are looking for a life-giving church and live in the Coronado or Imperial Beach area, we look forward to hopefully worshiping and doing life with you when we get the campus going in Coronado.
Executive Pastor, Awaken Ch