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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Revitalizing and Building Congregations

By Jordan Schrandt
June 30, 2013

Steve Preston, with the support of his wife, Rebecca, is the director of Training and Strategic Planning for the Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God.

Preston grew up attending Assemblies of God churches. His grandparents were members of AG churches in Oklahoma, and Preston’s parents always had him and his siblings in church while growing up in Southern California.

At age 15, Preston went to college. He knew he had a call on his life to go into the ministry, but at Long Beach State University his intention was to go into politics. By the time Preston graduated from college at age 19, he finally surrendered to his calling and decided to further his education at Southern California College (AG) in Costa Mesa (now Vanguard University) and earn a second bachelor’s degree — in Bible.

Soon after, Preston met Rebecca while traveling with a singing group. The two married in 1974 and had two daughters. The couple continued to travel performing drama, music and other multimedia presentations in churches.

In 1978, Preston went into full-time pastoral ministry as an associate at a church in Southern California. Four years later, he helped plant a church in a predominantly Jewish area nearby.

Preston was the senior pastor at two different churches from 1984 to 2004. One of those was Westchester Assembly of God (now Los Angeles Grace Assembly).

“I knew I was at this church to equip that body and to help plant other churches,” Preston says. “We planted five new churches while at Westchester.”

Nine years ago, Preston worked with Fred Cottrell to help plant churches in the inner-city area. That’s what prompted Preston to become a U.S. Missionary for the Assemblies of God and begin working directly with church plantings.

Soon after, Southern California Superintendent Rich Guerra named Preston director of Training and Strategic Planning for the district. Preston’s position is a relatively new one within the Assemblies of God.

“Rich Guerra invests in people and gives people opportunity to succeed,” Preston says.

Preston’s position allows him to do a lot of training for pastors and ministers of existing and newly planted churches. He holds “re-ignite camps” to build up and equip ministers of existing churches, and church planter boot camps for pastors of new congregations.

In addition, Preston’s duties encompass strategic planning, which entails working directly with Guerra and creating policies, documents, and event planning that make the superintendent’s vision of “reaching people for Jesus, training ministers, and empowering churches” a reality.

Preston works with congregations and pastors to develop a strong body of believers within each intercultural ministry. Some of these include churches for the deaf, Pacific Islanders, Samoans and African-Americans.

Church parenting also falls within Preston’s portfolio. He pairs an actively growing and vibrant church with one that’s going through a rebuilding period, and the stronger of the two helps the other rebuild, strengthen and grow until all challenges are resolved.

Preston’s U.S. Missions service necessitates a lot of networking and coordinating between Southern California churches in order to meet the varying needs of congregations. He bolsters the ministries of existing and newly planted churches throughout the district.

It is Preston’s hope that other U.S. missionaries can have a hand in supporting, influencing, and training the pastors and churches in their respective districts.


JORDAN SCHRANDT is a frequent writer for the Pentecostal Evangel. She and her family attend Crossroads Assembly of God in Harrisonville, Mo.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.