[Story] How One Pastor Found a Mentor in Craig Groeschel

This story is one of many the Life.Church Open Network gets to hear from pastors and church leaders. The Open Network exists to equip pastors and church leaders to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Read a little more about our heart, mission, and free resources at open.life.church.

For Kevin Diamond, having access to messages from Craig Groeschel through the Open Network has meant more than just getting free material for his growing church in California—it’s helping him sharpen his craft.

“It’s like watching gaming tape,” said Diamond, lead pastor of San Andreas Community Covenant Church.

“I’m becoming a better preacher because I’m learning from Craig and the other speakers. My wife said she’s never seen me preach at the level I’m preaching,” Diamond added.

Diamond, who uses Pastor Craig’s outlines to craft his own weekly messages, says watching the videos has helped him learn from some of the best church communicators and put new techniques for reaching his audience into practice.

“Asking for interaction from the audience wasn’t something I was naturally good at. But, I’ve learned how to make that a part of my sermons and, as an extrovert, I love hearing over 200 attenders respond back,” he said.

“Craig is my mentor, and he doesn’t even know it.”

Diamond considers Craig a mentor, and beyond the sermon series available for free at open.life.church, he says the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast has changed his ministry.

“Craig’s Leadership Podcast taught me two practical ideas I’ve put into practice: don’t waste time and create artificial deadlines,” he said.

“I’ve learned to fill my free time with podcasts and audiobooks that help me grow as a pastor and leader. And, creating an artificial deadline for my sermons has given me the constraint I needed to finish on time and not drag out the process until Friday.”

“When I started my new role as lead pastor, I finished my first three sermons at midnight on Friday. You can tell in the quality,” he added.

“Before using sermons from the Open Network, sermon prep would take anywhere from 20-26 hours. Now, I spend about eight hours preparing for my weekend sermons.

Cutting the prep time down gives me the time to practice my sermon and make sure I’m communicating effectively,” said Diamond.

And, with a more focused process, Diamond has more time to invest in what matters most: his family, his attenders, and his community.

“I now have the margin to spend more time with my wife and kids, teach courses like Alpha, go to lunch with attenders, and serve in the community,” he said.

Rapid growth in a small community

When Kevin and his wife, Angie, moved from Ohio to lead the church, the average weekly attendance was 85. Now he ministers to more than 250 weekly.

“One of the first events we planned was called Community Sunday. We invited our entire community to enjoy free food and have some fun. We were planning to start the Better series soon, so I used this opportunity to cast vision to the attenders. I stood up and said, ‘The reason I moved here and the reason I’m a pastor is because I believe life can be better because of God.’ I invited them to attend the five weeks of Better and promised them if they felt like their life wasn’t better, I’d buy them a cup of coffee.”

During the series, Kevin printed out copies of the Better reading plan from the YouVersion Bible App and invited attenders to plug in to a small group at a local coffee shop.

He also attributes their growth to his wife, who is passionate about meeting new people and inviting them to attend.

“I’ll walk in the door and my wife will say, ‘I just met three people today, and they’re coming to church this weekend!’ And, they always come!” Diamond added.

Kevin and Angie, thanks for following God’s call on your lives and for leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ in California! We’re honored to serve alongside you!

If you use resources from the Life.Church Open Network, we’d love to hear your story. Take a few moments to connect with us!


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