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Q&A with Sanibel church pastor Daryl Donovan

By Staff | Sep 3, 2009

Daryl Donovan is Senior Pastor of the Sanibel Community Church on Sanibel. He is a fun-loving, yet quiet clergyman who uses joy and passion to spread the Christian faith.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on a small farm in Missouri.

What brought you to Sanibel?

The call to come serve as Senior Pastor of Sanibel Community Church.

What do you enjoy most about living on the island?

I love the feeling of community, the friendly people – how people are caring and serve in so many ways.

We know you are a pastor for Sanibel Community Church. What inspires you about your congregation?

The people of Sanibel Community Church are authentic and passionate about their faith. They desire to be relevant and live lives that demonstrate the love of Christ. Even though many of our people are retired, they are active and fervent in serving others and making a difference with their lives.

And of course the question of the hour – what brought you to a life of ministry?

When I was 17, the summer before my senior year of High School, I believe the Lord Jesus Himself came to me in dream and put his hand upon me, and called me to be a pastor. My whole life changed after that dream. I had a love for God that was deep, and a care for people of all walks of life

that was genuine. Many of my friends commented that they could tell I had experienced a radical transformation. From there, I enrolled in Bible College and began a 12-year course of studies preparing me for ministry. I sensed God’s call to complete my Doctoral studies because He wanted to open doors for me that otherwise would not be open.

What do you think is most important about being a man of God in today’s often complex world?

Authenticity, Integrity, and one’s own walk with Christ. I think it is absurd for one to serve as a shepherd of God’s people and not have an intimate walk with the Good Shepherd personally. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Walk in step with the Spirit.” That is the most important thing for a man or woman of God to do, for when we do that there will be fruitfulness.

What challenges do you deal with in being a pastor?

These are difficult days. Many families are in crisis, financially, emotionally, in their relationships and many are turning to God’s word and to the church for answers. I believe the Bible is the blue print for abundant life. One challenge I face is helping people to see that.

A second challenge is the premium people put on tolerance at the expense of genuinely seeking after truth.

I do believe in absolute truth, I do believe there are things that are always right, and things that are always wrong. Our culture breeds tolerance to the point of saying truth and morality are always relative. It is a great deceptive tide that has led us to compromise and chaos.

What are your

greatest rewards in being a clergyman?

The greatest reward comes later! I love loving people and sharing Christ’s life-giving truth with them and seeing the lights come on and the captives set free! It is so exciting to see the Spirit of God open a person’s heart to the truth of the Gospel and for that person to discover hope, purpose and joy. That is what Jesus gives!

Do you see hope in uniting people to accept and tolerate each other faiths?

I see hope in people loving each other enough to genuinely listen to one another and not shut one another out because we don’t agree. According to Webster’s Dictionary tolerate means, “to put up with.” I hope we can do better than that. I will say however as an evangelical Christian, we are often considered intolerant.

I believe that Jesus died for the whole world – every person who ever lived and will ever live. The Gospel is all inclusive.

But I also believe one must put their trust in Jesus Christ to experience eternal life. The Bible says, “The one who has the Son has life, the one who does not have the Son does not have life.” That’s exclusive. It isn’t a matter of me being intolerant of other faiths. It is a matter of me being faithful to lovingly, compassionately declare the truth of God’s grace without compromise.

What is your main focus with the Sanibel Community Church’s congregation?

Our vision is that every person would come into a life-changing relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. You see, we don’t believe that Jesus is a person who simply lived and died and set a good example for us. We believe He lives. That is the Easter Message! And we believe that knowing the living Jesus in an intimate way changes everything! It changes how I live and love and care about others and it changes my hope for tomorrow and for eternity. Jesus gives us joy even in a bad economy. He brings us hope, even if cancer is spreading in our body. He heals broken relationships and sets people free from additions that destroy. Knowing Jesus is the most practical, relevant truth one can know.

Do you have any

hobbies or interests outside of the church?

Can you imagine being on Sanibel and not being a golfer or fisherman! I love to write both fiction and resources for Christian growth. And other than that, I love activities with my wonderful family!

How do religious leaders try to get the word of God out in a

society that is increasingly more technological and detached from each other and spirituality?

We use the tools people are using. We utilize every form of media that is available to spread the good news of God’s love. We also offer opportunities for folks to step back away from the techno-toys and tools, and connect in genuine relationships! That’s what I love about the Church!

What is one thing about yourself that would surprise most people?

I’m still very much a farm boy at heart. I love working in the dirt and growing things and working with animals! And that I am an introvert!

Crowds and new people always put me out of my comfort zone and that is a challenge for a pastor on a resort Island like Sanibel.

What is your family life like?

We love and laugh a lot. My wife Elaine and I have four great kids! We have embraced and enjoyed every phase of their development. Elaine is the perfect wife for me. She is my hero and my best friend! We have always made family a priority!

What are your long/short term goals?

To walk in step with the Spirit of God. To continue to be conformed to the image of Christ my Lord.

You seem to be a happy, joy-filled

person. What do you attribute your

happiness and

seemingly sense of serenity to? What advice would you share with others for achieving “true


That would be Jesus! Because of what He did on the cross, I know I am forgiven. That’s great news, because I need it! And because He didn’t stay on the cross, I know death is not the end, it’s just a new wonderful beginning. A fellow said to me one time that he thought my faith was naive and foolish. He said, “What if you’re wrong?” I thought about that a lot.

So what if I’m wrong. I looked at him and said, “So what if you’re wrong?”

My advice would be the same as the author and theologian C.S. Lewis.

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse, but let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” Jesus is worth looking into!