“I’m pretty boring,” began Steve Schibsted, San Clemente’s soon to be installed pastor – and then proceeded to describe a life and a calling that has been anything but!
Schibsted was born and raised in Southern California – Duarte – but, in his words, ‘has been away a long time.’ His journey took him north first to Santa Barbara, then on to Pleasanton, Burlingame, and finally to Chico – with a time east at Princeton Seminary and a year spent riding his bike around Europe.
Though his journey of faith began when, coming from a non-Christian family, he met Christ while in junior high school, Schibsted’s presbyterian connection did not happen until he interned with a young pastor named Steve Yamaguchi in Santa Barbara. “I spent the next five years in youth ministry and that was my introduction to the Presbyterian Church,” he shared. “I think I will always be a youth minister at heart – I love it.”
The Presbyterian connection provided more than just a calling, however. “It was during my last year at Pleasanton that I met my wife – playing people bingo at a presbytery youth workers event,” Schibsted said. They have two children, Drew age 23 and Allie age 19.
For the past 17 years the Schibsted’s have called Chico home. “I feel like, in Chico, we did what the church is supposed to do,” explained Schibsted. “We actually touched lives and introduced people to Jesus.” He admits it is often not easy to ‘keep the main thing the main thing’ but somehow the congregation was able to do that and God blessed the work.
The church is an old downtown church, almost 150 years old. They had practically no parking, but were right next to Chico State University. The sanctuary wasn’t that big, and they were already having 3 worship services each Sunday. “We needed to find more space, and we wanted to reach out to young adults and college students,” shared Schibsted.
So, they decided to think outside the sanctuary. “We started a worship service at an old theatre a block from the church – and it was amazing to see the people who came there who would have never come to our sanctuary.”
The theatre building is, as he describes it, a ‘non-intimidating’ space – a place that is dark, where you can be anonymous and the building itself was somewhat broken down and old.
“Our sanctuary is traditional and imposing and intimidating in terms of a building,” explained Schibsted. But the theatre space was anything but. In fact at their first worship service in the new space, Schibsted’s wife Leslie sat down – on a beer bottle. “I have talked to a lot of our young adults and ask why they like the service – they say it is the authenticity, which is partly created by the space.”
When the PNC from San Clemente contacted Schibsted it was something of a surprise. “It felt like God was doing something new in our lives,” he said.
He is passionate about growing healthy, thriving churches and is excited to see where God will lead. “I don’t really know yet what God is going to do, I don’t know the community yet – but I am definitely open to trying new things,” he shared. “I feel grateful to be called to a great congregation in such a beautiful corner of the world.” He’s also excited about San Clemente’s Spanish speaking congregation – and hopes to improve his Spanish at the same time as finding a way to be involved with their ministry.
“We had been in Chico a long time – I am ready for something new,” Schibsted continued. This new calling is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to be a part of what God is doing in South Orange County.
“Obviously we have to continue to innovate and try new things in this time in which we find ourselves – I think it is an exciting time to be pastoring a church because it can’t be business as usual.”