Cere Muscarella, senior pastor
Life Church (Angleton Foursquare Church)
When now 58-year-old Cere Muscarella gave his life to Christ in 1973, the change was radical. Looking at him today, you’d never know that in his adolescent and young adult years, he was a surfer who abused drugs and was trapped in the occult. He was passionate about life—but it was one of darkness and deception.
His passions changed the moment he yielded his heart to God during a service at The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, Calf. He was instantly delivered of the things that had been binding him, and suddenly on fire for God. He became more passionate about life than ever—but this time it was about light and truth.
Everything changed. Cere converted his business into a ministry that would send Bibles to anyone who needed them. From the second week of his radical conversion, he knew he was called to formal ministry service. He was on fire. He was also shocked that not all Christians felt this way.
“During my adolescence and into my 20s, there were Christians in the landscape who didn’t care enough about me to tell me about Jesus,” recalls Cere, who with his wife, Ann, pastors Life Church, a Foursquare congregation in Angleton, Texas. “They stood by and watched my self-destructive, caught-in-the-deception-of-the-occult lifestyle, and never said a word.
“When I got saved on December 9, 1973,” he continues, “and understood that I had been saved from hell after death, I was shocked that they were so loveless and passive about their faith. As passionate as I was about my life in darkness, I was more passionate about my newfound faith.”
That kind of passion informs all ministry activities at Life Church, which Cere and Ann planted in 1985. Since then, the congregation has grown to around 600 who attend services on the weekend. Perhaps more amazing, more than 700 people also join midweek services—and 60 percent of those are kids who are dropped off by their predominately non-Christian parents.
“We get the opportunity to serve them, teach them and send them back into their worlds with the gospel,” Cere shares excitedly. He and Ann have a teenage daughter, Alexis, who is also very ministry-minded. “It doesn't take long, and the parents come to see what we’re doing with their kids!”
What has caused Life Church to impact so many lives? Cere is quick to point out that it’s partly because just coming and sitting in a pew isn’t an option. The church is ardent about what Cere calls its “Two Gen Down” focus—meaning, whoever you are, look two generations down and start mentoring.
This means people in their 70s look for opportunities to love and serve those in their 50s and 30s. Likewise, those in their 50s focus on people in their 30s as well as 10-year-old kids. Cere claims this concept radically changed the congregation’s ministry dynamics. Instead of the church coddling the older generation because they are the typical givers, everyone began to focus on true, life-giving ministry that would extend far beyond their lifetime.
“One of the most incredible things that has happened over and over again is that the kids go home changed, and the parents follow them here,” Cere told Foursquare.org. “Instead of focusing on, catering to, even pandering to, adults who can give, we’re turning their kids into family missionaries who bring them the Gift of Life.”
It’s what Cere calls living life not on the cutting edge, but on the “bleeding edge”—that place where we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and intentionally go after God.
“The difference between being on the cutting edge (such as with technology, methodology or style of presentation) and the bleeding edge is character formation—or transformation,” Cere explains. “We must intentionally, constantly, submit ourselves or be sucked back into worldly conformation. Conformation requires nothing; transformation requires a lifestyle of intentional ‘bleeding.’ ”
It’s a message Cere preaches passionately, having been radically transformed himself.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles