By Ellen Zoe Golden Photo courtesy: Lyle Watson
Lyle Watson has a very sweet story about how he met his wife, Stacey. While at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey continuing to learn his ministry, he applied for a fellowship to study abroad and ended up at Wayra in Tamarindo to learn Spanish.
One day he asked at the school if there was a church in town and was told to go talk to Stacey. The number they gave him didn’t work, so he asked where she lived.
Watson knocked on her door and within a few months they were married. Today Watson has been the pastor of Tamarindo Church here in town for four years, with a total congregation of approximately 90 members.
He and Stacey have two children, Olivia aged 11, and Wolfgang (called “Wolfie”) aged 9. When not preparing for his Sunday sermons, he can be found enjoying his family, ministering to his Men’s Group, or surfing, the latter being one of the reasons he chose Tamarindo to study Spanish in the first place.
THE Tamarindo News talked to Watson for the low down on the spiritual life.
THE Tamarindo News: As a minister of faith, do you feel pressure to come across as a good man? Lyle Watson: When I meet people, I let them know that just because I’m a pastor, I don’t want them to change. They can cuss, or smoke, and anything. I don’t feel any pressure myself, I try to be myself, and not be fake and not act more righteous than I am. I’m not perfect. As a culture, I have found out that people do sometimes treat me different. Yet, in my sermons, I stress that anyone can come to church. Don’t follow me, follow Jesus. I’ll let you down because I’m human. The mistake people make is that they think they are not good enough to go to church. That’s the furthest thing from what the church is about. Church is for sinners who need forgiveness. It has to be a place for sinners like me and it is.
TTN: So you are just a regular guy?
LW: Yes, I want to be down to earth. I don’t want to behave like I’m so heavenly minded that I’m not any earthly good as a minister, husband, father. As a matter of fact, earlier in my life, I went through a bout of depression, and for me I learned in that. I’m thankful that I had my family and had God. It gave me so much compassion for people who struggle with the same thing. By the grace of God I made it out. Coming from being broken, I can share struggles and encourage people.
TTN: What is the denomination of your church?
LW: The church is Christianity. I don’t like denominations as I think they set people apart.
TTN: How did you end up in this vocation?
LW: I didn’t know I’d be a pastor, but I thought I’d work in a ministry. I went to Young Life, that’s the ministry where I came to faith in high school, so after University I volunteered there and eventually went on staff and this became a vocation. After, I had my depression and took a year off. I was praying asking God if You want me in ministry. I thought I’d be a geologist, teaching in science. At that point, I went back to school to get my Masters of Education. Around 1998, God said, ‘I want you to teach but not science. I want you to teach My Word.’ So, I continued in youth ministry, getting a job in Point Loma in San Diego. While there, recruiters form Princeton Seminary came and the pastor at the youth ministry said, ‘why don’t you apply?’
TTN: How did you end up in Costa Rica?
LW: So, in my senior year at Princeton Seminary, I applied for the Parish Pulpit Fellowship, which would allow me to study abroad. I got it, and had the opportunity to have international experience that would inform my ministry. I had surfed all my life, so I figured if I was going to study Spanish, I wanted to do it where I could surf. I had never even heard of Tamarindo. While at Wayra, I asked about an area church, and they suggested I talk to Stacey. I went over and knocked on her door. We are now married for 12 years and have two kids.
TTN: How do you prepare for your Sunday sermons?
LW: The idea is that on Tuesday and Wednesday I start getting my theme by scripture reading, and just soaking in it. Everything comes together mostly on Saturday, all day. I talk to Stacey and run my ideas by her. Then on Sunday, I get up at 4:30 a.m. and from 5 to 9, it’s like cramming for an exam. I try to have a positive theme, although sometimes I have tough messages. I bring our own life into the sermon so people know they can relate and it’s not just talking about lofty ideas. A ‘Me, too’ thing. I definitely don’t want people to think I’m talking down to them. I’m just a beggar, telling another beggar where the bread is.
TTN: How does Stacey contribute?
LW: Stacey helps me in my life in a big way, a lot more than she knows. She is my rock, my biggest cheerleader, and fan. She’s my best friend. And the perfect complement for me. She’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, but we are perfect for one another. Another thing, she’s always meeting with women, counseling, supporting, praying with them alone, on the phone or at the weekly women’s meeting at our house. I have a men’s group that meets at my house as well.
TTN: What’s new with Tamarindo Church?
LW: We bought a property and will build our own church. Right now we are renting the building. The property is right next to the current church. It’s a miracle we got the money. Also, we go once a year in January as a church to Nicaragua, as well as once a year taking the CRIA students there. We partner with a church in Tipitapa, in the barrio of Cristo Rey. The mission trip is along with the churches we join with there that are serving their community. Every time we go we build four houses so we’ve built a total of 28 houses since we started. And we bring and giveaway 350 bags of food. We are not solving all their problems, but now that these people don’t have to worry about food for a little while, they can solve their other problems. Hopefully, we bring dignity and love to them