Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2011
Foothills Christian Church, just outside of San Diego, CA, is an unusual church by today’s standards. I don’t know of many other churches that are so creatively and effectively reaching youth and, indeed, its entire community.
How many churches do you know are a member of their community’s Chamber of Commerce? Sounds odd right? Well, for Foothills it was another step into their Marketplace Ministry which has a stated value that “God’s Church is called to bless the city where we live and work.”
Kevin Miller is the Administrative Pastor at Foothills Christian Church and also directs its Marketplace Ministry. We met one another in Gatlinburg, TN, at this year’s CSM Leadership Conference. This interview with Kevin is one that I believe will inspire your vision for how we “the Church” can bless the city where we live and work, and also participate in the advancement of God’s Kingdom through the Marketplace.
Q: How did Foothills Christian Church become a member of the Chamber of Commerce?
A: I came on staff full-time in 2008, with 30+ years of experience, much of it in our own community. I knew that we needed to take a more prominent position of leadership and service to our city and the region where God had planted us.
The Chamber of Commerce is a strong organization in our area, representing more than 800 businesses in eight surrounding cities. Because I had long-time friends that were in leadership there, it seemed like a good place to launch from.
We really believe that when God speaks of us “ruling” in Genesis, that He meant it as a call to expand His Kingdom into all of our spheres of influence. He has really shown us this lesson in the Education and Government arenas. What were once long-term fields of battle are now led by a majority of Bible believing Christians. Business seemed like the next area that God was calling us to spread His influence.
Q: What was the response by the folks at the Chamber to your membership interest?
A: At first confused, skeptical, and a bit guarded. Two things really helped overcome this initial response.
One was my long-term reputation in the business arena. People who may not have known about my Christianity at least knew me to be a moral and ethical man. Your reputation really does catch up with you-for the better or for worse. In this case, I had some people who could vouch for me.
Second was my calm response to their question “Why is a church a member of the Chamber?” I love that question! (My own Senior Pastors were asking the same question quietly to themselves at first.) It really gave me an opportunity to share our heart to serve the city that God had placed us in.
Q: How did the relationship develop with the Chamber and other members?
A: In the long run, people really only care that your walk is consistent with your talk. When the members of the Chamber saw our church bring more than 100 people to a neighborhood clean-up, invest money in corporate sponsorship of the chamber itself, and almost twenty business owners joined the Chamber during the membership drive-and as we offered the church’s resources to important community projects-the Chamber became believers in what a church can mean to a city.
Once they trusted us, the lid blew off, and we could really get to work. The President of the Chamber invited us to pray for God’s blessing over the businesses in the area. About 100 folks packed the Chamber offices and cried out to God.
For the first time in the 100-year history of the Chamber their monthly Chamber breakfast was hosted on the campus of a Church. Pastor Mark Hoffman got to share some of God’s views on business and how He cared about their businesses.
Recently, the President of the Chamber and the CEO asked me to take a leadership position on the Chamber’s Board of Directors co-chairing a 20-year-old event that teaches Ethics in Businesses to 150 high school seniors.
God has opened doors and poured out His favor.
Q: Foothills Christian Church is known for reaching young people. What is your strategy for them as they enter the workforce?
A: We have a mentoring program at Foothills called “Get a Job”. It connects members of our BOSS (Business Owners Scriptural Success) ministry and high school students. We teach them how to find a job, how a Christian works, and give them an opportunity to shadow business owners in different types of businesses.
We are committed to teaching Christians, young and old, that the Church spreads far beyond the walls of an institution. They are the Church in their school, work, and neighborhoods. They are catching the vision and amazing things are happening.
God is calling us to bring our lights to the lampstand and bless the cities where we live and work. His method for each of us may be different than what others are doing but be encouraged that His power is available in His calling.
For more information on Foothills Christian Church, visit them: foothillschurch.org
JONATHAN SIMPSON is a frequent contributing writer to CSM’s Marketplace Exchange.