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avatar for Steve Berger

Steve Berger

Grace Chapel
Pastor
Leipers Fork, TN
Steve Berger was born October 3, in Burbank, California, as the youngest of three boys. Although there were many things that were right in the Berger household, there was a definite degree of dysfunction. The reality of the brokenness in their Southern California home hit young Steve hard. At twelve, he turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of escape. Hurting and lost, Steve spent his teen years incurring the effects of his poor choices and his parents’ divorce. It took the death of a close friend to get his attention and reveal the destruction of his substance abuse. Knowing he needed something, but unsure of just what, a priest offered him guidance. God was working in Steve’s life, and it wasn’t long before the young man discovered that the purposeless and passionless existence he had been living was a result of a life void of Jesus Christ. In 1984, Steve became involved in a Calvary Chapel church where he made the decision to commit himself to Christ. “I was rescued from a life that was going nowhere,” he says. His newfound faith brought the missing love and healing his heart needed, making Steve a changed man. Hungry to learn the Scriptures and to know God, Steve enrolled in Calvary Chapel Bible School in Twin Peaks, California. While still in school, he attended Calvary Chapel in Brea, where he taught classes of all ages, from first graders to young adults. There, he also met his wife, Sarah, whom he married in 1987. The couple watched as the home Bible study Steve led grew from the size of a living room to a 1,200-member church in less than two years. When ordained by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in 1990, twenty-five-year-old Steve, together with Sarah and their children Heather, two, and Josiah, born that same year, founded Calvary Chapel Diamond Bar. By 1994, the Bergers were blessed with another son, Cody, and felt God prompting them to relocate to Leipers Fork, Tennessee, and begin again. With three other families, Steve led the way to the southern countryside about thirty miles south of Nashville where Grace Chapel was planted. Giving up friends, family, and a flourishing church community to move two thousand miles made no sense personally, professionally or emotionally. “It only made sense spiritually, because God said do it,” Steve said. A year into the move, their daughter Destiny arrived, and by 2001, the four-hundred-member church body that gathered at an elementary school for Sunday worship paid cash for fifteen acres of land to build the red-roofed, barn-style church that exists today. By the grace of God, the campus has grown to over 175 acres and more than 100,000 square feet of church building space. Steve Berger is now senior pastor to more than fifty-five hundred people at Grace Chapel where he, along with a growing staff, team of elders and volunteers, equips people to be passionate servants of Jesus Christ. With his straight talk and deep, biblically-based preaching, Steve leads the congregation with a commitment to faithfulness: “My passion is being faithful to God, being faithful to my wife, and being faithful to my kids.” With an indescribable love for his family, Steve is adamant about providing his kids with the stable home life he never had when he was young. The brokenness and tragedy he once knew personally he now sees in the lives of others on a regular basis, which is the hardest part of the job for Steve. The best part is witnessing people come to Christ, be discipled, and then live out their faith: “It never gets old—it just gets better and better—watching people’s lives get changed and conformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.” In addition to delivering countless messages and training series, Steve is a part of the teaching faculty for the National Worship Leader Conference and regularly contributes to several publications. He is an avid sports fan and duck hunter, and credits Christian greats such as A. W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, C. S. Lewis, George Whitefield, Chuck Smith and Mark Rutland for helping to mold his life’s ministry over the past twenty-five years. As for the Scripture that best defines him, Steve points to Acts 4:13 where Peter and John are described as unschooled, ordinary men who astonished people because they had been with Jesus. “God uses the foolish to confound the wise. I feel like that’s me,” Steve said. ”I feel like I’m the uneducated and the untrained guy . . . but I’ve been with Jesus. In 2008, Steve authored 40 Days with the Word of Promise published by Thomas Nelson. Then, in 2010, he joined Sarah in authoring Have Heart: Bridging the Gulf between Heaven and Earth for Grace Chapel. The deeply personal book was inspired by the events surrounding their nineteen-year-old son Josiah's entrance into Heaven in 2009. After years of counseling countless families in their time of deepest need, Sarah and Steve share the biblical wisdom and revelation they gained from their personal journey through grief to hope. Their fresh insight into biblically-minded grief and eternal living is transforming lives around the world, and the book’s proceeds are furthering the legacy of their son by funding Josiah’s House, a boy’s home in the Dominican Republic. With his sights on eternity more than ever before, Steve longs for the day he is reunited with his son and others in Heaven. Until then, Steve said, “One of the most important things that we as Christians can do is to recognize what God is doing and join Him in it. When you do that, you’re going to be a participant in kingdom success.” Called to be serious about God and His mission to reach people with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, Steve sums up: “If we’re not here for that, then we’re missing the point.”