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Dave Johnston Teaches at CCA Hawaii Conference

Story by Jim Culhane
Photos by Tom Price

Follow Calvary Chapel Magazine as we publish summaries of pastors’ teachings at the CCA Pastors, Leaders, & Church Workers Conference held in August 2021 at Calvary Chapel Honolulu, HI. Click here to learn more about the conference.

In this installment, Dave Johnston, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Conejo Valley in Newbury Park, CA, describes what a pastor’s heart and mission should be, based on Acts 20.

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“As we look at the heart of a pastor, my prayer for all of us is that we really understand what pastoring is all about,” declared Pastor Dave Johnston. In his teaching entitled, “The Heart of a Pastor,” he explained, “The Word of God doesn’t change; Jesus is the same yesterday and forever, and it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world—we continue to trust in the Lord.”

Citing the Book of Acts, Chapter 20, Dave explained that the apostle Paul had a concerned heart that focused on strengthening and encouraging the saints, and to minister to the physical needs of the churches. Paul also had a compassionate heart. Jesus Himself had a four-fold ministry: to the crowd, the 70 disciples, the 12 diciples, and the 3. We need to be just as prepared to teach 5 or 500 but have the heart to minister to every individual. We also need a Christ-centered heart: If you don’t have an intimate fellowship with the Lord, you have no business speaking for the Lord. Dave reads Acts 20 at least once a month to remember what a pastor’s heart should be. In 1 Timothy, Chapter 3, Paul lists 15 qualifications for a pastor.

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We are to begin our day, spend our day, and end our day in the presence of Almighty God. A pastor’s heart is to disciple others, motivated to serve the Lord in humility. Our message is to declare the whole counsel of God. Your motivation for ministry should never be to please people; it should be to please the Lord. Whether you are speaking from the pulpit or teaching eight 5-year-olds, you’re speaking the Word of God with the authority that comes from the Spirit of God. Pastors need to preach it at any time with boldness, without apologies, and be prayed up. Dave has many books that he hasn’t finished because he realized he should be reading the Bible instead.

Paul served with many tears. In ministry, you’re sometimes going to go through trials and difficulties. And Jesus wept. We grieve at times, but not as those without hope. Dave shared, “A faith that hasn’t been tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.” Paul was a man of action, who preached repentance and didn’t hold anything back.


Paul had been in Ephesus for two or three years and spoke out against the worship of the goddess Diana. Christians began to burn their idols, and the idol makers attacked Paul. “It’s been said that blood is thicker than water, and the Holy Spirit is thicker than blood,” stated Dave. “When you have Jesus in common, you have everything in common.” Paul called his disciples together and embraced them. As he left for Jerusalem, he took time to love on the people he had ministered to for three years. He was never too busy for any individual. Paul didn’t leave because he was afraid, he left because God called him away.

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In California, a lot of people are running from the state like it’s on fire, Dave said. Our government is a mess, and it’s extremely expensive to live there. I tell our church not to be moved by Zillow, but by the Holy Spirit. We want to make sure the Lord leads us, to follow Him and Him alone. Don’t be moved by your circumstances.

“I don’t think COVID-19 changed the church one bit,” observed Dave. “I think COVID revealed the heart of the church, because the people who were committed to make a stand for God would not wilt under that pressure. Some of the churches that stopped having church—I pray that they would stop having church altogether so they will go to a church that didn’t stop having church. We want to have people who will stand for the things of God. Faith is not just believing what you cannot see; it’s also about remaining steadfast when you know the consequences will be heavy.” Paul didn’t say to hide while Christians were being killed by the government torture. And we must not be moved by fear.

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As a pastor, you want to return to places you’ve been and check on people. Paul had divine appointments on the way. Wherever Paul went, it didn’t take long for people to find out he was there. Paul even saw prison as an opportunity for the Gospel. Even when they dragged Paul to his death, he started preaching Jesus to them. Any teachings that say that Christians won’t suffer are not scriptural because everyone in the Bible who was greatly used by God went through a lot of suffering. Paul didn’t play the victim; he was obedient to the will of God.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

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It’s a joy to serve the Lord—there’s nothing greater. We should study the Word to exhaustion. It takes 15-20 years to teach every word in the Word of God verse by verse. But the Word transforms lives. Teaching the entire Bible in context allows for topics to be covered in the same proportion to what God has placed in the Bible. Teaching the Word well allows us to recognize false teachings. We should never get up to preach the Gospel without having spent time in the presence of the Lord.

Those pastors who work at a full-time job should write down the names of 10 co-workers and start praying for them by name, seeing what the Lord will do to allow you to witness to them. Pray for the people no one else is praying for. Pray without ceasing. Don’t view a job as a roadblock to ministry; when you show up at work, the Holy Spirit has just entered the building.

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Pastor Dave summarized what a pastor’s heart should be. It should be concerned, focused on strengthening and encouraging the saints, and meeting the physical needs of the church. A compassionate heart preaching to masses and caring for the individual. A Christ-centered heart to spend intimate times with the Lord as a priority. A heart to disciple others, to lead by example, to have godly character. A heart for the lost led by the Holy Spirit and focused on eternity. A heart for God’s Word. And a shepherd’s heart for God’s people, protecting them from outside dangers as well as dangers inside the church.


Visit the website of Pastor Dave Johnston's church at Calvary Chapel Conejo Valley, Newbury Park, CA

Watch Dave Johnston's teaching in its entirety at: Dave Johnston / CCA Hawaii Conference

Follow summaries of pastors' teachings at CCA Hawaii Conference:
Ron Hindt, senior pastor of Calvary Houston, TX
Bud Stonebraker, senior pastor of South Shore Christian Fellowship, Waimanalo, HI
Jeff Johnson, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Downey, CA
Jack Abeelen, senior pastor of Morningstar Christian Chapel, Whittier, CA
Tony Clark, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Newport News, VA
Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ
Ed Taylor, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Aurora, CO
Don McClure, Calvary Way Ministries, CA

Stay tuned for more teaching summaries in upcoming days.

Mark your calendar for the 2022 CCA Hawaii Conference: August 19-21 at Calvary Chapel Honolulu




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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.