Story Saturday: Strategic Missional Opportunities

Hi friends,

We are about halfway through this experiment of me being the chaplain for the Phillies.  To be honest, this has been personally very challenging. Why I feel called to do what God has me doing with the Phillies, I also miss you terribly when I’m not with you.  I am so excited about the work God is doing to change people’s lives through our ministry and I just hate missing out any part of it. Because of this, I’m trying to change my schedule to allow me to be present on Sundays, even when I have to do chapel for the Phillies.  I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

However, there are two significant things though that I am very grateful for so far.  I want to draw your attention to these things, so that you can rejoice at how God’s grace is at work in our church.  I believe that both of these things are strategic missional opportunities given to us by God that will bear tremendous fruit for His glory.

1.  We are raising up future preachers who will help advance the mission.

It’s pretty popular right now for churches to talk about planting churches.  However, I think too much is at stake to just have that be a cool talking point.  We live in a city where well over a million people are waking up each day without knowing the love of God in Christ.  That’s a tragedy. I truly believe that God has us here, not just for our neighbors, but to be part of his movement of reaching our city through one neighborhood church being planted at a time.  My prayer is that God would use us to reach 1% more of Philadelphia in the next 50 years. That’s going to take us planting dozens and dozens of churches. In order for that to be more than a prayer and a dream, we need to start taking action now.  I can think of no more strategic action then training future pastors. I don’t know if any of the current guys in training will be used to plant churches, but I do know that if they aren’t trained, that we won’t be able to continue to grow and plant more churches.  And so having them step up and take on more responsibility has been huge. I’m so proud of how hard they are working, how much their families are sacrificing and seeing how well they are doing. Sure there have been a few bumps. They are obviously still learning and aren’t that polished yet.  But the only way to get better is to continue to get more experience. And so you are participating in their preparation and our future mission by hearing their sermons, giving them encouragement, feedback and prayer. I’d love for our church to be known as a place where many, many preachers are born.  I’m grateful for how you as a church are embracing that role.

2.  What God’s been doing with  the Phillies is starting to gain national attention

Starting in spring training it has just been one miraculous story after another of what God is doing in the lives of many of the men (and their families).  The staff has noticed and other teams have noticed. I regularly get questions about what is going on. This went to another level last week though when, during two of the games, the broadcast team showed footage of the Phillies praying together before the game and said they have never seen a baseball team that is so spiritual.  If you watched either of the last two games against the Giants, the faith of the players was mentioned several times throughout the game and the story was even picked up on social media. I have to follow a strict no media interview policy, but I’ve started getting interview requests (which if my boss is reading this, don’t worry I decline!) because so many people are curious about what is going on.  While I don’t think anyone is becoming a Christian because they see the Phillies team praying, I love hearing stories about how God is using this to give many people opportunities to talk about their faith. I have heard story after story about people talking to family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc… who had written Christianity off as something for only simple minded people, but now are giving it another look and asking questions.  So through your faith to support me in this role for this year, God is reaching literally thousands of people.

Friends, I am so grateful for what God has been doing.  We are a small church, but God is using YOU in a huge way.  Your investment into our mission through your time, prayer and support is making a huge dent in the kingdom of darkness.  I’ve never been more excited for our future!

Gratefully,

Pastor Jeff