UAH alumnus Aaron Calhoun uses COB tools to maximize ministry

Aaron Calhoun

UAH alumnus Aaron Calhoun pictured in front of Restoration Foursquare Church in Huntsville, where he serves as full time college pastor.

By his own account, Aaron Calhoun’s calling to work in God’s Kingdom was very unconventional.

"Large portions of individuals go to theological seminary/bible college when pursuing a theological degree. I took the bi-vocational path by going to The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) because I wanted to learn about the business side of non-profits," said Aaron Calhoun (’16, BS, BA, Marketing).

Calhoun interned at Morningside Baptist Church while working on campus and going to classes to get experience in both the marketplace and church administration. When he graduated from UAH, Calhoun had two jobs that related to the ministerial field while interning at Restoration Foursquare Church. "My degree from UAH made it pretty easy to get my foot in the door for my first direct marketing sales job weeks after graduation. I worked there for about a year, and then I was hired into an operations managerial position at Alorica (customer interactions company). Both opportunities allowed me to use my marketing and management education from UAH."

Everything Calhoun learned while attending the UAH College of Business became relevant. "All of the group projects truly prepared me for the group dynamics that both jobs demanded. Taking all of this experience into the sphere of what our culture labels as the ‘religion field’ was a very natural crossover and nothing was lost in translation. UAH taught me how to empathize and collaborate with people of different cultures, backgrounds, educational levels, and skill sets."

A native of Birmingham, AL, Calhoun chose UAH because Huntsville was a brand new city and community to experience, and the university offered a generous scholarship. He learned about UAH from his high school counselor during his senior year.

Initially, Calhoun expressed a strong interest in mechanical engineering as an academic major. As he struggled in course content and his grade point average dipped, he scheduled meetings with staff at the university’s Student Success Center mainly to "rediscover my strengths, passions and interests. My mother also got her degree in marketing from Tuskegee University; so connecting with her throughout this process encouraged my decision to switch to marketing management my sophomore year."

After successfully finding his niche, Calhoun developed a laser focus on his COB studies. "I learned two key marketing strategies in my classes: FAB (features, advantages, benefits), and doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

"Knowing how to communicate the features, advantages, and benefits of a service or product empowers one’s target market to know how to make the best decision when making a purchase. And, conducting a SWOT analysis helps a company know how well they are utilizing their strengths, how to correct weaknesses that are hurting the company’s short term/long term profit goals, how to capitalize on the opportunities presented to the company to expand their customer base, and how to overcome any threats that can potentially short circuit the company’s growth. These principles can easily be utilized in a local church context when looking at key components that our church wants to mature and enhance," he explained.

At (RFC), Calhoun serves as a full time college pastor. "It simply means I get to hangout with college students, eat really unhealthy food, and share the love and truth of Jesus Christ with them on a week-to-week basis. In addition to the RFC college ministry, the church also supports Prime College Ministries for 18–25 year olds that come to one of the church’s three campuses; we also have Prime small groups that meet on a campus in Decatur once a week during the fall and spring semesters."

In addition to his ministerial duties at RFC, Calhoun is responsible for media/social media leaders, the church calendar coordinator, the campus facilities coordinator, and one of the worship team drummers.

Calhoun said the term Foursquare stands for the fourfold ministry of Jesus Christ while He was here on the earth. "Jesus is our Savior, Jesus is our Baptizer with the Holy Spirit,Jesus is our Healer, and Jesus is our Soon-Coming King. This is also represented by four symbols and colors which shows the cross, dove, cup, and crown."

Calhoun gave an example of how he conducts small group leadership development for the church’s college ministry.

Each semester, he sets markers for leaders to move toward with their groups week-to-week, which include: group interaction (feature), creating a safe space for honest dialogue (advantage), and equipping students to confidently and clearly explain their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (benefit). Calhoun implements SWOT analysis to review the church’s live streaming capabilities, social media activity, and, with Next Gen team review, he assesses the health of the discipleship/mentorship pipeline for perspective ministries.

"Overall, the goal of marketing is to connect people to whatever service/product service you are presenting. I firmly believe that communities of Christ followers have the greatest ‘product’ to market and that is simply the love and truth of God found in knowing and putting one’s faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Calhoun said. "Marketing principles can successfully be utilized in the arena of religion; fortunately, marketing is all about establishing healthy, genuine relationships and Christianity thrives on establishing healthy, genuine relationships with God and with others."

While attending UAH, Calhoun served as a prayer chaplain for The Orphan’s Hands (formerly Stella’s Voice).

"One of the memorable moments that prepared me for pastoring was when the UAH chapter Stella’s Voice held a worship service centered on Christ and collecting gently used clothes to give to the orphans in Moldova (South-Eastern Europe). The event was a success thanks to all of the Christian clubs on campus. Being a part of that logistical process and promoting this event on campus was a great learning experience for me," said Calhoun. "I learned how to embrace my role on a team, create habits of consistent communication with teammates, and how to lead people by example. I honestly believe the opportunity was provided by God to develop my listening skills, planning skills, marketing/promotional skills, leadership skills, verbal/nonverbal communication skills, and how to connect with people in a one-on-one connect setting and/or small group/focus group setting. Overall, volunteering and serving as a prayer chaplain for the campus organization prepared me for all that I do now on a full-time paid basis."

Although he is no longer involved with the organization, he continues to pray for victims and follow what the group is doing to reach out to orphans and those who have experienced the horrible reality of human trafficking.

Fond memories of UAH also include Calhoun’s unique business model designed in one of his classes. "Professor Kristen Scroggin’s final project required our group to pitch and launch a unique business model to her as a team where we each held a different role within the company. We had to convince her to invest a certain quantity of capital in initiating the business," said Calhoun. "It was awesome, challenging, and she tested everything from our team dynamics, video editing, stage presence, body language, business knowledge, and if the pitch actually made sense in today’s marketplace."

Calhoun’s future plans include obtaining a Masters of Divinity degree. He also wants to serve the church in progressively responsible positions to include senior pastor. One day, Calhoun will start his own church. "I would like to make a gospel impact in communities that need to hear healthy explanations and see healthy demonstrations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."


Joyce Anderson-Maples