Philippian Fellowship Annual Meeting
Thank you, everyone, for coming. I consider your giving time to this gathering and this ministry as a significant gift. And my prayer is that we can make this as beneficial to you as possible. Guests, those of you who are not Philippian Fellowship members, we are so glad you are here. I hope you enjoy this presentation as well and that you will forgive me as I address the whole group as Philippian Fellowship members.
Now, I want you to walk out of this presentation with a big picture understanding of what you are partnering with Desiring God to achieve. I know that you are aware of our mission: to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. And I know that you are largely aware of certain things that we do, like sponsoring conferences, hosting a large website, producing books and videos, giving lots of resources away, and selling what we do for whatever-you-can-afford, etc. But as our spreading partners, I really want you to understand why we do these things and not other things. What’s the strategy?
I began with the video because what Luis Arocha and his wife and his church have experienced is what we are partnering together to see happen in the lives of people all over the world. They are what “mission accomplished” looks like.
And Luis’s story wonderfully illustrates the five things that have to happen in order for us to achieve this mission:
The first thing is Proximity. Paul says in Romans 10, “…how are they to hear without someone preaching? Preaching needs to get near people so they can hear. And then Paul asks, “how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15). Preachers need senders. And that’s what you are. Philippian Fellowship members help send God-entranced gospel preaching that Desiring God produces to the places where people are. And these people are in Iowa, the Dominican Republic, India, China; they’re in cars, college dorm rooms, small groups, in the gym, and in cubicles next to you. So we create resources that can put the gospel in proximity to as many people as possible at the times and locations that will be most helpful to them.
The second thing that needs to happen to achieve our mission is Access. Proximity alone does not guarantee access. It doesn’t matter how close the message is to you if you can’t hear it because it’s either too expensive or too inconvenient or too culturally foreign (like not in your language). People must have access to the preaching. And you help make that happen. Because of your partnership, we are able to make John’s preaching accessible for free to anyone who has internet access. You also sponsor our whatever-you-can-afford policy, which we apply generously and with no strings attached. You also help fund translations of John’s books and sermons into other languages, as well as other international outreach efforts.
We chose Luis’s story intentionally, both because of how moving it is, and because it highlights what God is doing outside of the United States and Canada. International outreach opportunities are coming at us so fast that we have created an International Outreach department to handle them, and appointed one of our best, Operations Director Bill Walsh, to oversee this effort full time because his heart is burning with a missions fire. I would encourage all of you to attend our International Outreach seminar on Sunday where Bill and some others will explain some of the exciting things that we’re doing. And they will show a great video of what has been happening in Brazil!
The third thing that needs to happen to accomplish our mission is Understanding. Once there’s access to the message, people must understand it. Now, of course John does a fantastic job of explaining and applying what he preaches. But we augment and amplify John’s gifts by creating things like study guides, videos, podcasts, audio and video excerpts, and translations, like Luis does for us in Spanish, in order to help as many people as possible understand the message.
It’s also why we have a strategic focus on reaching pastors and leaders. Paul tells Timothy to “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Again, Luis is a great example of why we have this focus. His transformation changed his worldview, and therefore his teaching, and therefore his church and other churches! If we want to reach the most people, we will seek to influence the leaders.
The fourth and most important thing that must take place in order for us to accomplish our mission is Love. I say this is the most important because proximity, access, and understanding are means to the end that people fall in love with Jesus Christ and his church.
Do you remember at the beginning of the video, Luis said he used to enjoy his business and leisure activities more than pastoring? His heart was not in kingdom work. The great story in this video isn’t John Piper’s role or Desiring God’s role in Luis’s transformation. The great story is that Luis fell more deeply in love with Jesus Christ and his church. What John did through his teaching and DG did through its resources was simply point Luis to the Treasure. The Holy Spirit gave him eyes to see and like the man in Jesus’ parable who found the treasure in the field, Luis, in his joy, said “The field of pastoring has the treasure, and so I want that field!” That’s what our role is together.
In your partnership with Desiring God you are helping us show more and more people the treasure by making our preaching and teaching resources close to them, accessible to them, and understandable to them.
The fifth and last thing that needs to happen is Spreading. Desiring God the organization is not the primary spreader. It’s the Luis’s of the world. When people fall in love with the treasure that we show them, spreading happens! Luis’ wife said it beautifully at the end of the video: “When we saw the treasure that we couldn’t see before…it’s so wonderful, how could we keep it? The joy that it produces, you can’t hide it, you can’t keep it, you have to spread it.” Exactly! Which is why we invest in resources that are accessible, portable, easily transferable to others and affordable. Because we want to help you and Luis and all of our spreading partners spread the treasure to others.
That’s why we do what we do: to put preaching in proximity to the people, make it accessible to them, understandable to them, so that they will fall in love with Jesus, our priceless treasure, and eagerly share that treasure with others.