Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
Well, the time is finally here! Sharon and I are thrilled to share with you God’s goodness in faithfully leading us to where He wants us to minister next! As you’ll see, this new opportunity takes advantage of everything we’ve done in the past, yet builds on that in ways that are exciting as we move ahead.
We anticipate a mid-summer transition to our new ministry, which at its core, is essentially a continuation of our call to minister to students and young adults. Pilgrim Church is uniquely situated to partner with us as we seek to reach out to this population. Located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, Pilgrim Church has two medical schools (Drexel and PCOM) and two undergraduate campuses (Saint Joseph’s and Philadelphia Universities) within only a few miles of its doors. Together, these campuses represent more than 10,000 students and a tremendous opportunity to impact our region for Christ! We are now prayerfully considering how best to reach these fields for harvest, knowing that there will be no shortage of opportunities to get on campus!
The neighborhoods surrounding the church also have a corresponding higher concentration of younger people. Over forty percent of the population is aged 18-34, and it’s growing! Pilgrim is the only evangelical church in its immediate neighborhood, and has begun to attract younger folks, but as of yet it has struggled to engage them and rally them around a vision to reach their peers. Working toward this goal is therefore a priority for the church, and the senior pastor is eager to have us play a lead role in this area.
I am also thrilled at the prospect of being mentored by Dr. Ed Gross, the church’s senior pastor. I have known him for roughly fifteen years now, and he is truly one of the godliest men I have ever met. He will be investing in me, and allow me opportunities to exercise and sharpen my gifts within the context of the church. Since he hopes to transition out of his position as senior minister in October of 2009 to pursue foreign missions work, one of the goals for this next year-and-a-half is to see if the Lord is preparing me for pastoral ministry, either at Pilgrim or elsewhere. Although this would be a tremendous honor, we want to let this to unfold naturally to see if it is a good fit. Please pray with us along these lines.
Finally, this position is a blessing for our family, and Matthew in particular. It will allow him to stay at Devereux, his school for autistic children. During these two years, Matthew has grown amazingly in his abilities to communicate, and we relish the opportunity to see that continue.
As you can see, God has designed a perfect situation for us! For those of you who are practically-minded, though, you’re probably wondering what that means for you, our support team. The short answer is that we will continue to depend on a support team to propel this ministry forward, at least through October of 2009. At that time, we will reevaluate and pray with you for the Lord’s clear leading. In the meantime, we will continue to need financial and prayer support for this ministry to thrive among the students and young adults of northwest Philadelphia!
And since our time with MCO will be ending soon, we will be contacting each of you in the near future. We hope to, wherever possible, meet with you personally to share a short presentation we’ve put together about this new work. Please continue to keep us in prayer in these next months. We look forward to connecting with you soon!
Bryan & Sharon
P.S. Please see the following “Frequently Asked Questions” we’ve put together that will answer some other questions you may have. You may also contact Pastor Gross at (215) 482-1139 if you would like to hear his perspective on this exciting opportunity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How did God lead you to this latest opportunity?
A: As we were seeking our next calling, I (Bryan) approached Pastor Gross with the hope that he could help me network as I looked for new ministry opportunities throughout the mid-Atlantic region. I was surprised – and thrilled – when he told me that there were opportunities at Pilgrim that fit our background and gifting perfectly.
Q: What else excites you about this new opportunity?
A: Beyond it fitting our experience/passion for reaching young adults so well, Pilgrim Church has a real heart to reach its unbelieving neighbors. Its official mission is to “reach every man, woman and child” in their section of the city with the gospel. It is eager to work with other bible-believing churches to accomplish this vision.
Q: Will you still be on support, or will the church support you?
A: Although Pilgrim will contribute a small percentage toward our support needs, we will continue to be ‘on support’. In essence, our financial situation will remain the same as it always has, but Pilgrim will handle our contributions. As an aside, they will not charge any administrative fee; the entirety of your support will go directly to our ministry needs.
Q: When should I transition my support, and where should I send it?
A: We will send an update once the date is finalized, mostly likely the end of June or end of July. As of that date, financial gifts will then be made payable to Pilgrim Church (memo line “Stoudts / support”), and sent to the church at P.O. Box 35184, Philadelphia, PA 19128.
Q: Will I receive receipts with my contributions? Are my contributions still tax-deductible?
A: Yes, you will receive a receipt with every contribution. Yes, all contributions are still tax-deductible.
Q: Do you offer electronic (automatic) giving?
A: At this time, we are not able to offer this service. However, you can setup electronic giving through your bank. Many now offer free, automated payments, even covering the cost of postage!
Q: What will your ministry look like on a practical level?
A: While we expect some of the details to evolve over time, we anticipate that our campus ministry will very closely resemble what we’ve done in the past. This means I’ll lead bible studies, do large group teaching, disciple (mentor), train leaders and equip them for ministry on their campuses, and reach out to non-Christians. At Pilgrim, I’ll work with the younger people to reach their peers, some of whom will be the students I minister with and to on campus. I’ll have opportunities to preach and share in some of the general ministry of the church. We’ll also use our home freely so that people can share in the life of our family. Our goal is that these two ‘worlds’ of campus and church would have a lot of overlap.
Q: What is happening with MCO, now that you’re leaving?
A: The board of directors is taking this opportunity to re-evaluate and pray about the ministry’s next steps, but remains committed to the vision of ministering to medical students. The ministry will likely undergo some significant changes, since it now entirely a lay ministry (without full-time staff). However, we have full confidence that God is behind the changes for both MCO, and for us. For example, we have the board’s full support regarding both our departure, and our desire to continue in medical ministry in the city.
Q: How will you keep us informed about your new ministry?
A: We will continue to provide monthly updates via email.
Q: What are your biggest prayer needs right now?
A: Please pray that we finish well with MCO, that the Lord provides all of our support needs, and that He continues to give us an all-out passion for this new work!