I love the church. I love the church that God has allowed me to call home; The Summit Church. And, I love my city.
Ten years ago, God called my wife and I back to Raleigh-Durham to serve at The Summit Church. At the time, we were a smaller but growing church in the northern part of our city with a desire to reach into all the different areas of the world and our region. By the grace of God, our hope is that we would accomplish this through the multiplication process of planting churches and planting campuses. Ten years later, we’re a multi-site church with people in almost every pocket of Raleigh-Durham, of our country, and across the globe.
Every pocket of Raleigh-Durham. It still astounds me. God is raising up the church here in our city to be a light in dark places. To bring joy to those who struggle to find it during a divorce. To bring peace to those in our city where racial tensions run deep. To care for the students that are at risk of dropping out. To bring hope to the family struggling with the loss of a loved one. To bring joy in the mundane things of life. The list goes on. And on. And on. But why?
But seek the welfare of the city, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7
We go to those pockets to seek the good of the city in which we dwell. Sometimes as a pastor, that can be hard. Not to seek the good of the city, but to actually go and seek the welfare of the city. Praying for it can be easy, but going to put it in action can be almost impossible. Why? Because we’re busy. Because we’ve got a litany of things on the to-do list, much like every human being on the planet. We have our families to lead, families to shepherd within our congregation, and everything else life throws at us. But we go anyways. That’s why I coach sports teams. I coach not to build the seating capacity in my church, but to know my neighbors and to love my neighbors. To serve the families well. To see them prosper. And guess what…it’s fun.
Pastors, there are so many different arenas to find your niche within your city. I have found mine in coaching. Here are three reasons why I believe coaching a sports team has been an answer to prayer in one of the many aspects of seeking the welfare of the city in which I dwell.
- I get to meet people outside the walls of my church. Plain and simple. In talking with other leaders in ministry, a common struggle I hear is “I rarely engage with people outside of my bubble.” Coach a team. Hear the stories from the families you engage with. One of my greatest joys is hearing the stories of families on my teams. I love hearing about what they do for a living, their struggles and pains they’ve encountered over the years, their hopes for their families, etc.. That only happens by going to them.
- Tangible Display of Love for Others. Let’s be honest for a second: investment in someone’s child is one of the most life giving things you can do as a follower of Christ. As a coach, I know that I am giving my time to invest deeply into the most prized possession of another family; their children. Coaching allows me to invest in their athletic potential (using their gifts well) and also the shaping of their character (growing young athletes into great young men/women.) It’s an easy way to love my neighbors well.
- The Power of Consistent Presence. How easy it is for us to desire to see our city transformed, but it’s a different ballgame when we actually show up. How can we seek the welfare of our city from our desks and our living rooms? To show up is the starting block. To be there consistently is to actually begin running. Here is what I have found: when my presence is consistent, trust is built. When trust is built, doors open. When doors open, life happens. I’ve put my yes on the table to the families I get to coach. What I mean by that is by being their coach, I also want to be there for them in life. It’s resulted in sit down conversations with families in crisis, doing funerals for loved ones, celebrating birthdays together, and more. The power of consistent presence forms lifelong friendships. Seek the welfare of your city by seeking to be a good friend to those in it.
In what arenas of your life are you using for the common good of those around you?