Mid-Season Update

THE ALL-STAR BREAK IS QUICKLY APPROACHING which means we are almost to the halfway point in the 2017 season. As we reflect on the first half of the season, we wanted to update you on some of our efforts and our approach to make disciples during the season.

 

Go and Make Disciples

At UPI we consider ourselves a disciple-making ministry. Yes, we do evangelistic events, and yes, we do Bible studies, but the main focus of our ministry is discipling ball players so they will go and make disciples. 

There is a book that we are studying as a staff and taking some players through called 4 Chair Discipling by Dann Spader. The book tells us that each of the 4 chairs represents a phase of the disciple making process that Jesus took His disciples through. 

  • Chair 1 is “Come and See”: It's an invitation to come and see who Jesus is and what He’s all about.
  • Chair 2 is “Follow Me”: It is when an individual has placed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior and is determined to follow Him.
  • Chair 3 is “Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men”: This is the process of Jesus training His disciples to replicate His ministry when He’s gone.
  • Chair 4 is “Go and Bear Fruit”: It means to go and make disciples who make disciples.

The beauty of these 4 chairs is that it helps us to recognize where an individual is in the discipleship process so that we can properly minister to them.

I have the privilege of working with the Chicago White Sox here in Arizona with their Extended Spring Training team from April to June and then with their Arizona Summer League team from June through August. They allow me to spend time in the clubhouse with the players and in the coaches’ room with the coaches.

I throw batting practice twice a week. I hit ground balls to some of the infielders, and I shag fly balls in the outfield. And sometimes I sit in the dugout during their games just hanging with the players and coaches. This gives me the opportunity to build relationships with coaches, players and even trainers that may or may not be followers of Jesus.

To me this is the Chair 1 “Come and See” phase as I represent Jesus in this setting. I’ve actually seen some new players come to a chapel that I provide once a week through this relationship building process.

The Baseball Chapel service, which is a combination of young men seeking truth and true followers of Jesus, is a blend of Chair 1 and Chair 2 discipleship. The goal in chapel is to help those who are seeking to see and understand more of who Jesus is so that they will hopefully begin to follow Him. Chapel is also important for the follower of Christ to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is, what He did and what He desires for us to do.

I also lead two Bible studies - one for the players and one for the trainers and coaches. The Bible studies represent the “Follow Me" and the “Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men” chairs. The emphasis in these studies is on the 'Why' Jesus said what He said or did what He did. We discuss what He was teaching or showing the disciples, and how He was training them in those moments.

The overall goal of what I’m doing with the team is to reach some for Chair 1, to teach others in Chair 2, to train a few in Chair 3, and to send those ready in Chair 4 to go and bear fruit.

Another example of this disciple-making process is illustrated in the life of a retired player that comes to one of the Bible studies on the northwest side of Phoenix. For a while the study revolved around me just imparting information for them to know.

However, I began to realize that I wasn’t really training them in how to replicate ministry.

I changed the approach this year, and we started doing a study technique called “storying”. We rotate each week who will learn a story in the gospels by reading that story many times over a week so when we meet, that individual can tell us the general story without reading it from the Bible.

They aren’t trying to memorize the story but to learn it, to know it, and to be able to tell it in their own words.

This former player really took to this method and began researching commentaries and other sources to gain more information so he can add more insight to his stories. He now comes with notes and teaches as he tells the story. He has done such a great job and grown so much that he is now leading chapels for me. His growth over this last year has been tremendous, and he is well on his way in the training process to be a fisher of men that goes and bears fruit for the kingdom.

Please continue to pray for us at UPI as we reach, teach, and train players for the purpose of sending them out into the world to bear fruit by making disciples.