How do you invite God into your heart?
Pastor Chris Milbrath remembers his “coming to Jesus moment” well.
“I was leading a pretty self-destructive life … making a lot of poor choices,” Milbrath said.
While studying at UC Irvine, the then 21-year-old met several Christian students who inspired him to make a change. “I sensed they had a real joy, a real peace in their lives,” he recalled, “and I knew I wasn’t experiencing that. I was pretty empty spiritually and emotionally.”
On his knees in a Burlingame hotel room, Milbrath gave his life to the Lord — a “total surrender.” He went on to earn a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in Christian leadership and attended seminary in Southern California.
Serving others abroad (Haiti, Thailand, Russia, etc.) and at home has given Milbrath that sense of peace he desired. God has also revealed Milbrath’s spiritual and leadership gifts, giving him the confidence and ability to share the Good Lord’s messages with others, he said. Since 1996 the pastor has shared the Good News with his congregations, recently joining senior pastor Ron Short and the Lakehills Covenant Church family in El Dorado Hills.
“My passion is to see lives change and people’s hearts transform through God,” Lakehills co-pastor Milbrath said, “and then they embrace something greater than themselves.”
God also helped him fulfill another role — family man. As a young man, Milbrath questioned his abilities to become a good husband and loving father but God, he said, has given him the tools to live a fulfilled family life. Milbrath married his wife Jennifer in 1998 and they have two children: Cameron, 10, and Taylor, 7.
Prior to moving to El Dorado Hills, Milbrath served as a pastor in Cambria for eight years. He worked with youth groups and families in the coastal community. An e-mail from a former Cambria congregation member led Milbrath and his family to El Dorado Hills.
When he first read the message, Milbrath said he didn’t really consider applying for the co-pastor job. Living next to the ocean has its perks — namely superior swimming and surfing opportunities — and he said he loved his community. However, the desire to move eventually elbowed its way in.
“I felt called to come here,” Milbrath explained.
After meeting the Lakehills team, Milbrath said he was more certain than ever that, “This is the place we’re supposed to be.” As co-pastor, Milbrath provides oversight for youth ministry, connections groups and family events, teaches on Sunday mornings, helps develop the church’s vision and more.
He said he and his family love the community, especially its commitment to quality education and youth sports programs, and they enjoy the open space (even though the ocean view is missing). Milbrath also confessed he’s learning to become a 49ers fan, a wise decision in this red and gold community.
Lakehills Covenant Church, 7000 Rossmore Lane in El Dorado Hills (behind El Dorado Hills Town Center) holds Sunday services at 9 and 10:30 a.m. For more information call (916) 939-9300 or visit lakehillschurch.org.