Westmont Magazine Planting, Tending, and Sowing
Only 11 people came to the first Christmas service at Lakeside Church in 1987. Attendance had dropped from 55 on opening day, just months earlier. But Brad Franklin ’80 never doubted that God had called him to plant a church in Folsom, Calif., an area that was growing rapidly.
So he found a job delivering gourmet coffee beans. He also received support from 12 northern California churches.
Slowly, the numbers grew. After a year, he quit his job. After three, he no longer needed the support. Today, 2,300 people worship at Lakeside Church, which has a staff of 30 (including six full-time pastors), four Sunday services and a 28-acre campus. They have outgrown two buildings and plan to erect a temporary tent until they complete another new auditorium. The old facility will be used for youth programs.
“God has chosen to put his hand on us,” Brad says. “Our goal is to make the truth of the Scriptures relevant to people, to put God’s word in a context that makes sense. We want to present the gospel in a faith-filled and positive way, to demonstrate grace and truth. I think people sense that God loves them when they come to this church.”
Excellence is important to Brad, and he strives for quality in preaching, worship services and outreach to the community. As the senior and founding pastor, he preaches regularly and provides leadership and direction.
Growth created new challenges for him, and Brad decided to seek help in managing the larger congregation. In 1998, he enrolled in a doctorate program in ministry at Bethel Seminary to study effective church leadership and learn how to move a group forward. He received his degree in 2002.
Through two different workshops, he shares with smaller churches the lessons he has learned at Lakeside. One focusing on pastoral leadership and practical training attracts pastors from a wide variety of denominations. Lakeside also holds conferences on church planting and reaching people effectively. Most of these participants come from Next Generation churches. Lakeside, a non-denominational congregation, belongs to this association.
Brad felt called to ministry as a high school student, and he majored in religious studies at Westmont. “A liberal arts education is a huge asset for a pastor,” he says. “My studies helped me become well-read and introduced me to a lot of literature and history. It was great preparation for the teaching part of ministry and the people skills that pastoral work requires.”
Brad earned a master’s of divinity degree at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore. He and his wife, Donna, spent a year in the Philippines with CB International, and the oldest of their three children was born there. Brad then served as associate pastor at a church in Santa Cruz before starting Lakeside.
With all his success, what does Brad consider his greatest accomplishment? “My 26-year marriage,” he replies without hesitation. He and his wife work out together and enjoy riding their motorcycles.
After all these years, Brad remains passionate about reaching people for Christ and strengthening the church. “I’m interested in using the resources of our church to advance the Kingdom of God,” he says.