Former NFL player and founder of a California megachurch, Miles McPherson is gearing up to host a "Race for Unity" simulcast in conjunction with the release of his new book, The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation. The minister shared a sports metaphor which he says could really help the church of all races come together to defeat the enemy.
"Racial division has been a part of my life my whole life whether it be with my family or the neighborhoods I lived in," McPherson told The Christian Post in a recent interview.
The pastor is taking his experiences and directly responding to recent racially-charged conflicts in the country.
The Rock Church senior pastor comes from a very diverse family and has always dealt with merging cultures. He has a white grandmother and a half black and Chinese grandmother.
"All of my life I was loved and raised by people from different ethnicities," he shared. "Playing football, I was coached by people from different ethnicities and out on the field we gave our all. So all my life, I had extreme interactions with people from different ethnicities."
"We may see people mistreating each other, or speaking down to other people just because of what they look like and I realize how much they don't know about those same people," he added. "If you look down so much, it's going to be self-fulfilling prophecy versus allowing God to show what greatness He has placed in other people."
He went on to share what he observed about about racial unity during his time as a professional football player for the San Diego Chargers in the NFL.
"As a fan, you have a team you're rooting for and it's you against another team. You don't care who helps you because your team won," McPherson said.
"When you're on the team, there's a similarity to that — you want to win, but also, you're in the trenches fighting and depending on someone. You don't care what they look like, you just want them to do their job," he continued, talking from the perspective of a player. "When you're on a team with someone and you see people who are different than you, that you may have heard something negative about, [still] perform at a high level or better, then complement you and help you do a good job — you forget about your differences because they're helping you win.
"Therefore sports is a great metaphor for unity in God, how we can look past and acknowledge our differences and where we come from. All teams bring in professional people from all over the country who come from different cultures."
The minister likened the diversity in sports to the way God made all races and cultures yet still calls everyone to work together as one body in Christ to overcome the enemy and his plot to defeat God's children.
"What we have in common is the battle we're fighting. We all as individuals [should] realize that we're in a spiritual battle and the enemy, the Devil is not white, black, or Hispanic or Asian people. We're in a spiritual battle and the Devil's the enemy," he explained. " If we come together and acknowledge that we've been created in the same image of the same God, with the same purpose, with the same access to the Spirit of God, racism would melt away if we can look past that and focus on the calling God has placed on our lives."
McPherson has been very successful at drawing people from all backgrounds to his weekly church services in San Diego. Since its inception in 2000, his ministry has grown to become one of the nation's largest and most diverse congregations, drawing 20,000 attendees every week, through 18 microsites, five campuses, and multiple online services broadcast in Donovan State Prison, Mexico, and throughout the world.
A chapter from a book proposal McPherson submitted a few years ago about racism would go on to become his entire new book, The Third Option, which hits shelves on Sept. 11. The pastor said he was inspired to do a simulcast to go along with the book after experiencing one himself in which 400 churches tuned in to hear him speak while traveling as a speaker.
In The Third Option, he hopes to challenge people to see "God in others."
"In every race conversation, it's always us against them. That based on our social narrative, the stories that we grew up learning about ourselves and other people. But there's a third option, which is honoring and acknowledging what we all have in common which is the image of God," McPherson maintained. "We are all made in the image of the same God and because we were all made in that image, we all have the same capacity and responsibility to love each other and to acknowledge the presence of God in our lives and the potential for the relationship that God has given all of us."
McPherson's simulcast, which will take place Sept. 15, is calling churches together to identify racial "blind spots" that prevent people from honoring the image of God in others. It offers advice on how to "identify and overcome racism in our hearts" and suggests practical ways to develop "cross-cultural competency."
To find out how your church can join the free simulcast, visit the website.