The CE Interview: Miles McPherson

Miles McPherson, senior pastor, The Rock Church, San Diego, CA

By Ronald E. Keener

It’s something of an irony that Miles McPherson some three decades ago wasn’t much the “marrying kind,” but today can say, as he did in a recent blog, “I am for traditional marriage as God designed it, because it is the model that honors His original and eternal intent.” Today McPherson is in the midst of the cultural wars on matters of marriage, traditional or same-sex, and is a quiet, steadying influence for the orthodox Christian view.

He’s come a long way since he was an NFL player for the San Diego Chargers: “I was smoking marijuana and having sex and all that kind of stuff,” he says. He first heard the Gospel in 1979 and prayed to receive the Lord.

“But I never went to church and never was discipled so I just kind of fell back into it [his lifestyle] for five years.” But when playing with the Chargers he saw the examples of two teammates, Sherman Smith and Ray Preston, “who lived the life of Christianity in a very sincere way and I just knew in my heart that was what I needed.

“During the five years I walked away from the Lord he was telling me every day, when you’re ready I’ll get you off drugs, you’ll marry your girlfriend.

“And so when April 24, 1984 came, I had been doing cocaine for a year and a half, and I was in the NFL for two years and I was just tired. I said I was just going to make my commitment today and I’m not going back. I stopped using cocaine that day, stopped cursing that day, got back with my girlfriend Debbie, who is now my wife. That all happened that day,” he recounts.

Was Debbie a Christian at the time?

No, she was not a Christian. She got saved shortly after that when she saw what God did in my life, and we got married a few months later. It was 25 years in September.

You have a ministry called DO Something … 600,000 hours this year that are transforming the city.

DO Something is not a ministry, DO Something is our church and we are going to start a DO Something network of churches. We encourage everyone here to do something and so this year we have committed to doing 600,000 hours of service from all the people in the church. That’s 50,000 a month. The ministry leaders track the hours of people who text in their hours, and 100,000 of those are directed to the projects that the Mayor has designated.

So we’ll give a report to the Mayor as to how many hours we have donated to him and how much money it is saving the city. We want to be an asset to the city and to our community and to be a blessing to them through our volunteering.

And the DO Something church network would help other churches do the same thing in their communities. We have ministries to strippers, women who go into the strip clubs and pray for the strippers. We have people going to convalescent homes, people cleaning up trash and recycling, people who minister to homeless people, kids in foster care, and it goes on and on and on.

The Web site will launch in November; there people will be able to sign up and get the book and study kits when they are available. The idea is to mobilize churches everywhere to “do something” in their communities.

The church has a same-sex ministry, not one that many churches would offer. How do you approach it, how do you square homosexuality with Christianity?

We work with an existing ministry here in town, but any ministry we work with is designed to reconcile them with the Lord. With the behavior, obviously we don’t condone what the Bible doesn’t, so we want to love them and encourage them that they may have a life changing experience with Christ just like everybody else.

You were heavily involved in the passage of Proposition 8 last year (on the definition of marriage in California). What was your role as a pastor?

My role was to educate the church and the body of Christ overall, not only on the biblical definition of marriage but to honoring the biblical definition of marriage. It’s not as much as what we are against as what we are for, because if you promote marriage as between a man and a woman, which is what the Bible teaches, there are about seven other combinations of people who cannot get married.

I can’t marry a relative, I can’t marry a minor, I can’t marry three people, and so there are many people who can’t get married. So it wasn’t that we were fighting all those things. We were simply saying God designed a man to marry a woman; it is the metaphor of our relationship with Christ and that is what we should honor and not condone anything else.

How did you get involved in that issue?

There were a group of churches here in San Diego that just felt committed to this cause and we started working together and working with churches throughout the state to get the word out to not only get the petitions signed to get a referendum on the ballot, but then to get the vote out. We had a lot of rallies, we had prayer meetings, we had a fast, we had 33,000 people go to the Qualcomm Stadium [where the Chargers play] and fast and pray all day.

Carrie Prejean had been a member of your church for four years when she lost the Miss USA title this Spring. But you didn’t know her until she was in the pageant?

Well, she lost the Miss USA title and that was the day she gave her famous answer. I met her two days later in New York City, because the day after the pageant she went to New York [for media interviews].

I didn’t know her until after her famous answer and her going to New York. Someone e-mailed me and said, “Carrie just gave this answer on TV and she’s getting a lot of criticism and she’s on her way to New York,” and I happened to be in New York.

You were going to New York for another reason?

I was going there for a board meeting and because my family was there, I happened to go a few days early. I went there on a Monday, and when I arrived Monday night, actually Tuesday morning, I got to my hotel at 2:00 a.m. She called me on the phone because I had texted her my phone number earlier that night. At 2:00 Tuesday morning she called me and again at 3:00 when she and her mother got to her hotel. I went over to pick her up to go to her first interview at 5:30 in the morning.

You texted her back and said, “Call me girl, I’m proud of you”?

Exactly. She called me and we went over to the interviews. The first one was the Today Show. And the next day was Fox and then a meeting with Donald Trump.

Later you interviewed her at services at the church, at which time you spoke of taking a stand (page 12 sidebar). So what does all this mean? The Prop 8 matter, the Miss California dustup?

I think what we are to learn is the culture is very strongly opposed to the Bible and people who walk with Christ are going to have to accept the fact that there is going to be confrontation and eventually persecution.

I mean we were persecuted, we got emails for months. There’s a new breed of Christian and a new breed of pastor that needs to be raised up, that will be willing to stand up for the word of God in the face of persecution, in the face of criticism, and in the face of apathetic, politically-correct congregations, if they have one. We can’t live to please man and we can’t live to avoid conflict.

So when I met Carrie in New York it was the first question I asked her. Are you willing to give up your crown? Because if you don’t want to give up your crown, if you want to be politically-correct, then you can answer the questions one way. But if you want to stand up for the Lord at all costs, then you’ll answer the questions another way.

There are some who say that Christianity is under attack?

Christianity is under attack — but in the end we win.

But the process of getting to the end may be worse than anything we have yet seen? The average person who doesn’t have position or power, what does that person have to stand against the opposition?

Well, I don’t think it is about position or power. When the opportunity is necessary for you to take a stand it will come your way. I think what people have to be prepared for is to stand up when it happens. And everybody can do that. Even if you are in school when your teacher begins to spew hate against Christianity and the Bible and preach evolution as fact, and that you have to be an idiot to believe creationism.

Even standing up in those instances and saying no, I believe in the Bible, I believe in creation and there is more evidence for creation than evolution, and just state the facts. People need to be able to stand up and not let the world punk their faith. They don’t worry about offending people, because it’s offensive to deny Christ. It’s offensive when people talk about God as though he is a liar, I should say.

You’ve said of the opposition, “You want me to offend God so you won’t be offended.”

There’s so much about political correctness, and so much about not offending, being intolerant, and that kind of thing. You meet this all the time, I guess?

People who are being told to be tolerant need to hold that definition and requirement on the people who are saying it.

Because it’s the people who claim to be tolerant who are usually the most intolerant. If you don’t believe what they believe, they trash you for being intolerant. But the fact that they are trashing you means they are intolerant. Because what you are really saying is “I’ll tolerate you as long as you believe me,” but that’s what they are arguing against.

So it’s important for us to understand the definition, and to understand what culture is saying, because truth always wins and if people are spewing out false truth there’s a loophole. We need to find the loophole and one of the loopholes is that if someone’s telling you to be tolerant they, by definition, must tolerate you. And if they don’t they’re intolerant; that’s when you need to call them on it. But we don’t, we just cower down, and say, “You can yell at me but I can’t yell at you.” I don’t think that’s fair. That’s not right.

You noted in that service with Carrie that the Bible could be labeled as hate speech some day. Is that a concern?

A big concern, but it’s not a government thing, it’s a Satanic thing. It goes beyond the government. I think we have to realize who our enemy is; it’s not flesh and blood, it’s not people. It’s Satanic, and the devil has no limit to how far he will go. So we always have to keep that in mind and not take man’s word for it because man is not the ultimate decider on these issues, it’s the devil.

Has playing football taught you anything about being a pastor and running a church?

My training in football taught me to say no to pain. [Laughter] You know, whether it be running, working out, being injured; you know in my football life you had to deliver. You know if you’re out someone was going to take your spot, and so you had to work out, you had to be in shape, and if you got hurt, you had to suck it up unless you just really couldn’t go. You had to deliver, and it was right now, not tomorrow, it was today.

You’ve got to watch out for your team mates, you’ve got to work as a team together, and that’s how I look at this [in the church]. We’re here in a battle, we’re not here to just have a holy huddle and have some fun; we’re here fighting a battle for people’s lives.

You know this is real life stuff. We’re doing something about going out and helping people and not just playing church.
There’s a lot of crazy people here doing just what God has told them to do. Story after story, it goes on forever.


S … stare down courage
T … trust in the truth and never lie
A … accept God’s sovereign provision
N … never fear man
D … die to your self


Former Miss California Carrie Prejean, a member of Miles McPherson’s The Rock Church in San Diego, is authoring a book with Regnery Publishing that will reveal “her side of the story,” which attracted national attention earlier this year. The book is tentatively titled “Still Standing” and is expected to hit bookshelves in January.

Prejean had made headlines since the Miss USA pageant in April, when she famously said she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman in response to a question asked by celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton.

While many conservatives praised the then 21-year-old for responding honestly and boldly, many others demonized her, calling her anti-gay and a gay hater.

“The unprecedented personal attacks that ensued eventually culminated in Prejean being stripped of her Miss California crown,” Regnery said in a statement. “But the 22-year-old won the respect of millions for modeling something other than evening gowns and swimsuits — the courage of standing up for her convictions.”

“Now she will tell her side of the story, answering such questions as what happened behind the scenes at the pageant, why she answered the Perez Hilton question as she did, what really led to her losing the Miss California crown, and how she has been forced to battle the left’s double-standard on free speech and the bias against conservatives — particularly conservative women — who stand up for their beliefs.”

Prejean was interviewed by her pastor (below) in a nearly one hour session that can be viewed at titled Miss California Comes Home to The Rock.

Compiled with a report by Lawrence D. Jones, Christian Post


“The world needs you. It’s broken.
“Look around you. We’re facing economic chaos, endless wars, AIDS, famine, ecological ruin, political corruption, the list is endless. Your neighbors are in desperate need of love and a helping hand.

“It’s my belief that what the world needs is God’s love. But whether or not you share my Christian beliefs, you can recognize that someone needs to do something. Right now!

“That someone can be you. You were created to do something great. You want your life to count, or you wouldn’t have picked up this book. There’s no better way to make a difference in the world than to take action and help someone out — no matter your age or race, no matter your religion or lack of religion, no matter what.

“But there’s a step we all need to take first: you and I need to recognize that not only is the world broken, but we are broken too. Just as He identified with our brokenness before He did something for us, so we must identify with our brokenness before we can do something for others.”

From the introduction of DO Something, by Miles McPherson (Baker Books, 2009)


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