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A Look Back
By Dave Franco

Debbie McPherson Looks Back on the Beginning of the Rock Church

I remember it made sense that Miles was going to pastor his own church one day. He was given the pulpit every Sunday night while he was fulfilling the role of Associate Pastor at Horizon Christian Fellowship. As the years went by, I watched God groom him, and I witnessed that Sunday night service grow to capacity. It was a logical progression of his calling that he would step into a Senior Pastor role at some point.

So when he said to me, “It’s time,” it was absolutely no surprise. I said, “Go and do what God is telling you to do.”

People would say, “You’re crazy. Why are you leaving such a ‘cush’ job where all you need to do is show up on Sunday nights and not have to worry about the daily grind of starting something on your own?”

But Miles never wavered. He doesn’t let others, and the things they may find crazy, dictate to him what he is supposed to do. Miles serves a big God. That’s why he is such a big dreamer and visionary.

And so, in spite of all the naysayers, God’s plan kept moving forward. Miles was going to lead a church on an agreed upon date, ready or not. And even though at home we had three mouths to feed, I really didn’t have any fear about Miles stepping out of a secure job—and into the great unknown. I had complete peace and knew that God would provide, as He had done so many times in the past.

While I trusted that this was God’s plan for Miles, the truth is, however, I did have a fear about something else. As the plans to start the church were put into motion, I would have people constantly saying to me, “So, are you ready to be a pastor’s wife?”  Finally, I thought to myself, What are they talking about? I’ve been a pastor’s wife for some time now. What’s the difference?”

I found myself starting to resent the idea and I didn’t know why. At some point, I realized that the root of my fear was due to not knowing what this all meant for me.  At all of the churches that I had ever experienced, the wife led the women’s ministry. This must be what they are talking about.

This idea that I was going to have to co-pastor the church began to form in my mind, and I really didn’t know what that looked like or how to do it. So I remained rather panicked about it. I had fear over the pressure that comes with being expected to start and run the Rock Church Women’s Ministry. I’m more of a reserved person and have never sought out leadership roles. I prayed about it and finally, I really felt like I was not being called to do it.

Then one day a woman came up to me after one of our early planning meetings and said, “God told me that you are supposed to start the Rock’s women’s ministry.” I thought, Well, I’ve already been praying about it and I’m pretty sure that it isn’t my calling. I told her that I would take her suggestion to heart and keep praying.

Shortly thereafter, someone recommended a book that was written by a group of pastor’s wives who all had different roles. It revealed that there was no “cookie-cutter” role for a pastor’s wife. This book ministered to me so much. The result was this: being a pastor’s wife does not look a certain way, and I should feel free to simply be who God called me to be.

Karen Stevens and Teresa Holderby decided to create and run the Rock Church Women’s Ministry. That was certainly a divine appointment. They have done things that I could have never done. They have been remarkable. God certainly knew what He was doing when He brought them to us.

So this is how I have seen my role: to create a home for Miles that is a retreat from the rigors of leading a mega church, so that he can feel restored and ready for all that God has called him to. Also, to come along side him in prayer and to encourage him in every way.

Which brings me back to February of 2000. Our first Sunday as the Rock Church was almost upon us and we really didn’t know what to expect. We just knew it was going to be exciting.

That morning on the San Diego State University campus, we watched over 3,000 people stream in—the largest opening day of any church in San Diego, and the nation. I remember thinking, Only a big and mighty God could dream up something this amazing. And I’m glad to have had a front row seat. I’m so grateful for Miles’ commitment to the vision God gave him—and the faith that he had to see it through.