Baseball, Acts, and a Special Friend


~Eric Pickett, a Leader at South City Church in Little Rock and a growing number of leaders training in the Central Arkansas Initiative, shares his experience.

I haven’t done any type of school work in a long time and to say the ACTS Leadership Course  was at first a little overwhelming to me may be a bit of an understatement. That is okay because something happened in the midst of all of the reading and writing.

When I was 7 I started playing baseball. I loved baseball before then but back in the mid to late 80’s you couldn’t start playing organized baseball until you were 7.  For the next 8 years or so my life was mostly consumed by baseball. I played mostly shortstop or second base and was a decent player. I thought I knew the game. I thought I knew about what to do in every situation. I thought I knew baseball.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school. My brother had just graduated from the same school and over his time there had improved as a baseball player greatly. He barely made the team and over his 3 years turned in to a good player. That ended up being very good for me. The coach, Mike Johnson, told me that the only reason I made the team was because my brother improved so much and hopefully I would too. Things didn’t start well. I couldn’t keep up. How could this happen? I knew everything about baseball. Coach Johnson became frustrated with my lack of ability and lack of improvement so he asked me a question that literally changed my life: “Have you ever played catcher before?”  I hadn’t and he told me that starting tomorrow I was a catcher. Yikes!

Playing catcher changed the way I saw baseball.  A game I thought I knew so well was turned completely around…literally.  As a middle infielder, and every other position, I faced the batter but now I faced the field, I faced my teammates. If you change positions on the baseball field your view of the batter changes but you are still looking at the batter just from a different angle. For me, changing to catcher gave me a completely different outlook of the game of baseball.  It was crazy.  A whole new way to see the game was opened up to me.  I started noticing so many things I had never noticed before about the game I thought I knew so well.  Positioning was something I hadn’t thought much about before. At 2B I was only concerned with my positioning but not really that concerned about the outfielders because my back was to them. But now, as a catcher, I can see everyone. I can see how Coach Johnson positioned every player specifically. I can see all of these new things. It didn’t stop there. Then he showed me the book.

Coach Johnson had a folder with papers in them. I am sure now this would all be done on an iPad or something but we had a manila folder with pieces of paper in it.  On these pieces of paper were pitch charts for every game in the last year or two. We called this folder the “chart book.”  A pitch chart is not like a score book, it is a record of every pitch thrown to the other team and what happened on that pitch. What type of pitch was it? Where was the pitch located? Were there runners on base? What did the hitter do to that pitch? Everything you need to know to devise the best plan to get the hitters on the other team out. I went from a middle infielder who knew what to do if it pertained to me to a catcher who was integral in the positioning of all of my teammates and in the devising of the plan to get every hitter out. What a difference. Baseball had changed.

The ACTS class has had a similar effect. I thought I was doing well as a Christ follower. I knew what to do as it pertained to me. I knew how to handle situations or conversations if they were brought my way.  Sure, I had read Acts multiple times but it was different now.  After the second or third week in the class, much like baseball did, the book of Acts completely opened up to me. It became clear that Acts was the pitch chart book. It gives me all of the information that I need for positioning myself and my teammates to put us in the best place for achieving the goal of the team. That goal here is not getting the other team out, it is advancing the gospel. I used to think that the planning and positioning was up to the coach or the pastor but I now know that the responsibility is on me.  There is no reason that, just because I don’t have a Bible degree or a fancy calf skin leather preaching Bible, I can’t be integral in the positioning of all of my teammates and in the devising of the plan to get the gospel to the ends of the Earth.

I said earlier that when Coach Johnson asked me if I had ever caught before changed my life. I went on to catch in college at Central Baptist College in Conway.  There I made a friend who invited me to her wedding.  At her wedding in 2007 I met the woman who would be my wife and by her love and example she showed me what a true follower of Christ was like.  In doing so it proved to me that I was not a true follower and in 2008 I committed my life to following Jesus and was saved from my sin.

I am thankful for the leadership at our church and how they are challenging us and showing us that the work is there for all of us. For most we probably aren’t being called to leave our own country with a plan to “get the other team out” but I can promise we are being called to leave our own front yards.

 

2019 Arkansas Prayer Summit Reflection by Pastor Harry Li

Reflection – 2019 Arkansas Prayer Summit

 ~Harry Li – Pastor – Mosaic Church in Little Rock, AR.

The 2019 Prayer Summit marked the 16th Arkansas Prayer Summit in a row that I’ve attended since discovering it back in February of 2004. Each has been like one of my children; special and unique in its own way. I would not have made it through 16.5 years of urban ministry were it not for the encouragement that I’ve received from both the power of prayer and the deep fellowship I’ve experienced at these summits.

Particularly inspiring and noteworthy this year were our guest pastors, Trey Kent and Brian Alarid, from Austin, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico, respectively. Together, this dynamic, prayerful duo painted a compelling vision of concentrated, collective prayer for our city. Hopefully, if you were present, you were challenged to be a part of a collective effort to pray for Arkansas.  I was moved and hope that we as the Church of the City will agree to cover our cities 24/7 in prayer. If you are interested, please visit arkansasprays.org to see this simple, yet effective plan and how your church or ministry can be involved by covering one day per month in prayer for Central Arkansas.

I so love the body of Christ in Central Arkansas and I consider it one of my greatest joys to serve along side some of the most amazing, prayerful shepherds I know.  Let’s keep pressing on for unity and more prayer for our city, especially during these tumultuous times!

A Taste Of Heaven

Inspired by a Global Church Network of Leaders
~Ray Williams – CityChurch Network, Team Leader

CityChurch Network leaders from multiple Central Arkansas churches recently traveled to Ames Iowa to participate in the 2018 Biblical Institute for Leadership Development (BILD) Annual Conference.

Serving top leaders from over 40 countries, the Conference included training workshops, unique opportunities for global networking, and concluded with an Executive Leadership Summit that included North American church leaders, ministry CEO’s, foundation leaders and business men and women interested in accelerating church multiplication. Innovative training helped leaders develop their understanding of the church-based theological education (C-BTE) paradigm and acquire or sharpen their skills in developing their own training programs.

We heard inspiring stories of how other City Church Networks are proclaiming the transforming hope of Christ in their communities. We were equipped with new tools and resources for strengthening leaders. Jerry, one of our team members reflected that the times of worship with international leaders from all 9 world civilizations was a “taste of heaven.”

Returning home, we are encouraged and deeply thankful to God for the churches and hundreds of leaders here in Central Arkansas working together for the advance of Christ kingdom. May we continue to unite the church in extraordinary prayer, leadership training, and greater works for the good of our city and glory of God.

Connect with our Little Rock team to learn more about how you can unite with other leaders and to grow in your leadership.

Leader Prayer Groups

We share a common vision to see every heart transformed by the love of God in Central Arkansas. Every great move of God is preceded by united prayer. We want to encourage pastors and ministry leaders to participate in a regional prayer movement.

The CityChurch Network is calling 100 local pastors and ministry leaders to participate in monthly Leader Prayer Groups and semi-annual One Voice events in Central Arkansas. Leader Prayer Groups connect church leaders through relational, regional and revival focused prayer. Our semi-annual One Voice events gather every church in the city to unite in prayer.
We are inviting leaders like you to participate in and help facilitate a Leader Prayer Group with 3-4 other pastors once a month. Leader Prayer Groups receive fresh, supportive content every month to encourage you in prayer. Help us spark a movement of united prayer among 100 church leaders in Central Arkansas!

Getting Started

1. Identify 3-4 pastors or ministry leaders of other churches to join your group.
2. Determine the ideal time and location for the members of your group.
3. Enlist your group to receive the monthly Regional Prayer Guide.
4. Attend One Voice with ten members from your church.

It’s that simple! We also want to honor all preexisting pastor’s prayer groups in Central Arkansas. Please contact Logan Bloom at lbloom@citychurchar.org to join or launch a Leader Prayer Group near you! A list of current Leader Prayer Groups can soon be found at citychurchar.org.

Race Under Grace

Under the guidance of Pastor Harold Nash and his team from Fellowship North Church, the Nehemiah Network announces the continuation of the Race Under Grace initiative for 2019. Race Under Grace is a project designed to pursue racial unity in and between Central Arkansas Churches. Pastor Nash, and others in the congregation, have used this powerful process at Fellowship North for years, and are achieving giant steps in knitting together the hearts of ALL God’s people in fellowship with this ministry.

The flagship of the Race Under Grace project is a series of cross-racial conversations that serve as a launch-point for pastors and church leaders.  This Leadership Series introduces pastors and church leaders to the “Race Under Grace experience” and helps them make plans for pursuing racial unity in their own church settings.

The Leadership Series is then supplemented with continued conversation among pastors and leaders, but more importantly with tools and guidance to help Central Arkansas churches create their own Race Under Grace experience.  We see this happening in three possible phases:

  • The Race Under Grace leadership team can help pastors design and lead cross-racial learning experiences for their church’s leadership team (deacons, elders, staff, key teachers and lay leaders);
  • The Race Under Grace leadership team can help a church’s leadership design a cross-racial learning experience for congregation members and coach the team in leading the experience;
  • The Race Under Grace leadership team can help a church’s leadership team think through, and make plans for, implementing a hand-full of core disciplines should they wish to move toward a healthy multi-racial church environment.