Sergio De La Mora: The Pastor the Community Needs

”Ministry success for our church has become synonymous with effectively and strategically turning believers into disciples.”

Sergio De La Mora Lead Pastor
Cornerstone Church of San Diego National City, Calif.
A 2013 Outreach 100 Church


Of all the defining moments that have transpired over the course of the past 15 years as founding pastor of Cornerstone Church of San Diego, none are as pivotal as the day God distinctly told me to stop being the pastor I wanted to be and start becoming the pastor the community needed me to be. Though it was only one sentence, its ripple effect changed the course of our church forever.

Becoming the pastor my community needed encompassed changes such as embracing the need to become a multi-ethnic church and incorporate a Spanish service, and making the move from being bivocational for more than seven years to being the full-time pastor on staff. We also launched a full facility remodel, converting our former nine-plex movie theater located in a notoriously crime-infested city into a first-class facility that would later win first place in commercial interior design throughout all of San Diego.

More than the accolades and awards was the genuine need to embrace the call to become a leading voice to Latinos in America—those who are both Latino in ancestry and American in culture—in order for Cornerstone Church of San Diego to be one of the key churches other Latino churches look to as a reference point for a renewed standard of ministerial excellence and cultural relevance while maintaining a constant stream of sustainable growth. This turning point, in reality, was brutal at times, because it meant taking the risk to break from tradition to become an unconventional beacon of hope to an uncommon generation. Every day I am reminded that the reward far outweighs the risk.

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Becoming fully engaged with the needs of our community also meant acquiring an additional facility for a Turning the Hearts Center, a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves the needs of adjudicated youth and impoverished families through programs that are community sensitive, family centered, purpose driven and results oriented. Our Turning the Hearts Center offers programs such as a community food distribution center and programs that address work readiness, gang prevention, good parenting and GED procurement to members of our community who may never come to our church. God’s one statement to me challenged our team to make an additional shift from being a “come and see” church to a “go and tell” church by launching a 52-city International Tour with the inclusion of Heart Revolution Conferences across America.

Most recently, becoming a pastor the community needs has stretched our church beyond our current community into surrounding cities, even crossing state lines and international borders, to embrace the mandate to become a multisite church committed to turning hearts where our community needs revival most. Looking back, it has never ceased to amaze me the shift that one sentence from God has made on our ministry.