Pastor Joel originally felt called to full-time ministry when he was twelve years old. He spent the entirety of his senior year of undergraduate college going through the formal process and personal assessments with the Vineyard Movement to become one of the youngest ordained Vineyard pastors/church planters.

In the fall of 2009 he and one of his closest friends, Jacob Merkey, moved across the country from Texas to California to begin the starting phase of planting The Response. The first two years were difficult and discouraging. They held multiple Bible studies and small groups in their home, but struggled to build any real momentum. People would come and they would go. It was hard to make things stick.

During these first two years Joel’s cousin, Nathan Elam, and close friend, Stacy Craft, moved out to San Diego to help aid Joel and Jacob in their church planting efforts. The four of them lived in a small two bedroom apartment on top of a bar called the Arizona Cafe’. They intentionally positioned themselves right in the heart of Ocean Beach as they tried over and over to get things started. During this season there were multiple times where friends and family from back home encouraged them to quit their efforts and move back.

But in late August of 2011 God opened up the door for The Response to meet in a small music venue called Electric Ladyland on Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach. On October 2nd, 2011 The Response had their first official service with forty two people in attendance, but over the next year the church struggled to grow with an average attendance of about thirty people.

During the summer of 2012 God profoundly spoke to Joel that if the church committed to personal spiritual growth and faithful teaching of the Scripture He would double the church in the fall. By September 2012 there were sixty to seventy people in regular attendance at The Response. Over the next year The Response launched multiple small groups and ministries in order to effectively steward the sudden growth God had given them. Then in the summer of 2013 God spoke once again to Joel and said that if they continued to commit to personal spiritual growth and faithful teaching of the Scripture He would double the church once more.

Today The Response is a young but healthy and vibrant church that is known for its incredible sense of authentic community and its uncompromising willingness to teach the Word of God.

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