I am sure most of you are familiar with the teaching on abiding in Jesus in John 15:1-10. When I think about these verses from this passage where Jesus said,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…He also trims every branch that produces fruit to prepare it to produce even more…Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings. If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.”
They really reflect the ministry work for MGB over the last 4 years for both the baseball and church ministries. We have definitely been in a period of focused training and pruning in preparation to bear even greater fruit. MGB leaders have done all they can to learn/follow Jesus’ teachings and to abide in Him while great pruning and growth has taken place.
From about 2007 through 2012 the baseball ministry exploded with approximately 400 coaches from the Dominican Republic joining the MGB ministry along with 40 in Cuba.
In 2011 we realized that we had a problem. We did not have the leadership resources needed to disciple this many coaches; Leaders with a “calling” who have been trained to handle the word of God accurately and who can foster growth in others and the local church family. We had grown horizontally rapidly but we did not have the leadership resources to cause deep rooted growth.
This is the moment that God “straight-armed” us and the reality that we were failing at true discipleship hit us hard. We realize we needed to do a better job of identifying called leaders and we needed to get stronger in our discipling efforts.
So in the summer of 2012 we started implementing the following strategy. The goal was to find 10-20 coaches that met these criteria:
They demonstrate through the testimony of their life that they were a true follower of Christ, that they had a strong desire to disciple, and they had the ability to lead others through a God given influence.
From the initial review of 400 we identified 80 coaches that seemed to meet these criteria. Trips were made around the country to meet with each of these top 80 coaches. The MGB team met with their players and visited their families when possible. Follow up trips were made as needed. By mid-2013 the list was reduced down to 40 coaches. By early 2015 we got the list down to the top 20 coaches.
In 2015 bible study assignments were given to these coaches, more visits were made to see if they were discipling their players, and these 20 coaches attended multiple day trainings to see if they could learn how to use a study bible and develop skill in interpreting the Word.
Out of this 20 we have 10 key coaches that have been involved in weekly discipleship training since February 2016. By Summer 2017 our goal, God willing and as he provides, is to have at least 3 key regional leaders from this group that are ready to go out and start discipling and training other coaches.