Archive for the ‘discipleship’ Category

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Looking Back, Moving Forward

June 18, 2013
Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Summer is here!  Our first-year students have finished with their exams, second-year students are either studying for ‘boards’ (comprehensive exams necessary to continue with third-year) or starting rotations, and, things are relatively quiet here.  Sort of like the shore at the end of the season.

But not quite.  There’s still plenty to do, like:

  • Give thanks for another great year of student ministry!  This year, in addition to supporting our 5 major campuses, we also started connecting with, and supporting, several new ones: Arcadia (formerly Beaver), Penn Dental, Temple Dental, and, Temple Podiatry.  We enjoyed discipling/mentoring many individual students, developing leaders and helping them reach their campuses, hosting students in our home for bible study brunches, and, provide relational counseling for couples.
  • Give thanks that our ministry ‘council’ (healthcare providers who work alongside me in ministry, also providing encouragement and accountability) doubled from 3 to 6.  This has been such an incredible encouragement and greatly increased what we’re able to do.
  • Hire a part-time ministry assistant.  God’s continued blessing has led to greater administrative and relational ministry needs, especially with our female students.  We hope to hire an assistant by August when our academic year begins.
  • Raise support.  Along with other increased costs, hiring a ministry assistant will require us to raise additional funds.
  • Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Prepare for fall Intermed and our first-ever student overnight retreat.  We’re asking God to use these events to refresh our current students, and, to enfold new students into our fellowships quickly.

  • Continue meeting with students.  While many students are away or busy with rotations, some have limited availability and we plan on taking advantage of that!  We’re also hosting 5 gatherings for the students over the summer as we study the Book of Malachi and the theme of spiritual refreshment.  This past Sunday, we concluded our study with ‘designer s’mores’ and great discussion on the patio late into the night!
  • Help our current leaders get ready for the new year.  Although we’ve already discussed vision and strategy for the first few weeks back, during the summer I will continue to touch base with our leaders so that we’re ready for this narrow, yet critical, window of opportunity.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do… and pray for.  Will you please join us in bringing these concerns before the Father over this next month?

Thank you for being a largely unseen, but so, so critical, part of our ministry.  We look forward to seeing you in July with another update!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

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Summer Half-time Report

July 26, 2012

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s already past ‘half-time’ for our summer.  Although the students are scattered far and wide, many are in the area and we have been busy seizing the opportunities God is giving us.  Here are some first-half highlights!

Penn Dental

For years now, we’ve been trying to connect with our city’s dental campuses, Penn and Temple.  (After all, we are the Christian Medical & Dental Associations!)  However, with fewer dental students and professionals in the area, connections have been harder to come by.  Recently, though, we met Brianna and she brought 6 other Penn Dental students to our home for a night of connecting, sharing and dreaming about what it might look like to reach Penn Dental for Christ.  At the end, Brianna invited us to spend more time on campus and support them in the year ahead.

Bible Study Dinners

With so many students around, we decided to continue our bible study meals during June and July.  Although attendance is more sporadic with summer plans, we’ve averaged 15 and experienced the same great fellowship and significant interactions we’re used to all year.  This summer, our focus has been “The Things That Really Matter”, with 2 Timothy as our guide.

The Love Bug

Many of our students are in various stages of relationships, and recently Sharon and I have had the privilege of meeting with three couples this summer.  The first couple is getting married in a few days, the second is in a season of re-evaluation, while the third is somewhere in-between.  If I had to choose a theme verse for these times, it might be Proverbs 20:5: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”  Sometimes I’m not sure how much “understanding” we possess, but our aim is to shine God’s light on the ‘deep waters’ these couples are facing so that they can grow together in Christ.  It’s one of our highest joys to help them make sense of their relationships from God’s perspective.

One On One

This summer, we’ve really focused on making sure we get even more good time with students and physician friends one-on-one.  On campus, in our home, at local coffee shops… wherever it may be, personal relationships are at the heart of our ministry.  Let me share just a few examples with you.

In one meeting, a student shared about challenges he’s experienced in relating to his sister, an atheist-agnostic who’s ‘witnessing’ to him out of concern that his faith in Christ is damaging to him.  We also spent some time talking about assurance of salvation, something that’s important as he’s still a relatively newer Christian.

I also had the opportunity to meet with a physician friend who is active in mentoring students in the city.  I was impressed when he came with a list of things he wanted to talk about!  One of our key topics was talking about some challenges in mentoring relationships he’s involved in.  It was exciting not only to see him wrestling with these obstacles, but to have the chance to speak into them and give him suggestions for making progress.  This is one of the ways God is allowing us to multiply our ministry!

Thanks so much for making all this possible through your prayers, gifts and love.  We are very conscious of our dependence upon the Lord and you!

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise for a solid end to our fiscal year (June 30th).  Please pray for God’s faithfulness moving forward.
  • Praise for so many good meetings with students and physicians throughout the summer.  It’s been one of our best ever!
  • Pray for these last few weeks before the students return: follow-ups and planning with campus leaders so that ‘fall’ begins well; key discipleship times; things to come together for our fall Intermed (weekend of worship, teaching and fellowship).
  • Pray for wisdom as we continue to meet with the couples we mentioned above.
  • Pray for God’s grace in the lives of the first-year students about to arrive on our campuses.  Pray that many will seek Him, and, that those who already do will become connected to our campus ministries and good local churches.
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Built to Last: Multiplying Ministry in Philadelphia

March 8, 2011

What a month!  Last month felt like a whirlwind, and sure enough, in glancing at the calendar we had over 30 significant meetings, conversations and events, not to mention everything other members of our ministry team have been up to.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to give an overview of our ministry at our church’s Day of Prayer.  Although challenging, boiling down our recent work to just three minutes helped me gain a deeper sense for what God is doing through us.  I’d like to share the heartbeat of those reflections with you here.

A God-Sized Vision

More than anything, God keeps reminding us that His vision is far bigger, and more glorious, than ours.  We’re coming to see that aiming any lower than the Great Commission is too low.  With 20% of the nation’s physicians doing some portion of their training in the city, ministering faithfully right here is the most strategic investment we can make.  As we train our healthcare students and providers to follow Christ, some will stay and transform the city, while others will go and spread the Kingdom wherever they land.

This vision is powerfully shaping our day-to-day ministry as we place greater emphasis on ministry that multiplies.  We want to reach people who will, in turn, reach others.  One way we’re doing this is through our relationship with the International Saline process, which trains healthcare students and workers to share their faith with their colleagues and patients.

You may remember that, in December, we trained 20 local students and professionals in our first local “Saline.”  In February, 8 of those 20 participated in our first, follow-up, Training of Trainers (ToT) session where they learned to train others in the Saline process.  Just a few days ago, I sat down with 3 of those 8 – two med students and one physician – to talk about reaching their health system (Drexel) for Christ.  We agreed that we’ll start by inviting all the believers at Drexel Med to a one-hour introductory session, then follow that up with a full-blown Saline for those who respond.  Lord willing, a large core from that group will then learn how to train others.  And then…

You get the idea.  This is how multiplying ministry works.  We train others, then come alongside them as they learn how to train others.  It starts small – nearly inconspicuous – then explodes over time.  This is how Jesus transformed the world, and this is how we’ll transform Philadelphia and beyond.

Focus On People

After hearing that we are funding entirely by donations, a lot of people ask us, “What are your ministry needs?”  While we do have financial needs, I always respond by saying that our greatest need is for like-minded people to join us in accomplishing Christ’s vision for our ministry.  Like Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  What we need, more than anything, are people who know Jesus and want to join Him in His mission right where they are.

And so, wherever I go – whether it’s meeting a physician, attending a large-group gathering of students, or participating in a medical outreach – I’m always asking God to introduce me to people who can become (or already are) co-laborers in this city that He loves.  I know that, by His grace, I can serve as someone who connects them to that larger vision of winning this corner of the Kingdom for Him.

I met “Tom”, one of the students I mentioned earlier, at Drexel when I attended one of their campus fellowship gatherings two years ago.  Although his first year at Drexel was challenging, he became one of our campus leaders during his second-year, where he has really stepped up to become an unassuming, but committed, leader.  I am privileged to meet with him consistently and to invest in him during this critical season.  Tom has become an important co-laborer, and our ministry exists to find, and equip people like him!

Sharon and I, once again, want to deeply thank you for your prayers and gifts that make ministry like this possible.  In God’s hands, your investment is reaping dividends that will be fully revealed only in eternity.

Immanuel,

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in the following prayers and praises:

  • Praise God for an enormously fruitful past month of ministry, and for the privilege of reaching the key ‘people group’ of healthcare students so that they, in turn, can be equipped to reach others.
  • Praise God for Dr. Jerry Hric, our newest council (board) member.  He brings gifts in the areas of big-picture thinking and student ministry, and, like all our council members, I feel blessed to partner with him.
  • Please pray that the Lord continues to introduce us to ‘game-changing’ students who can pour their lives into others.
  • Pray for me, and the others I mention above at Drexel, as we introduce the Saline process there.   Pray especially that God brings others who will want to train others.
  • Pray also that God would give me wisdom as I help several campuses with their student leadership transitions.
  • Pray for our men’s (26th) and women’s nights (25th) this month, meeting in our home.
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The Students Have Returned!

September 5, 2008

On The Ministry Front

When I opened my inbox, I was pleasantly surprised.

But there it was, a lengthy email from Ted with thoughtful answers to nearly all the questions I had raised in connection with ministry at PCOM (one of Philadelphia’s medical campuses) for the coming year. “This guy is a leader,” I said to myself. “I need to be investing in him.”

That very night, we had our first leadership team meeting at Ted’s house. I was privileged to give guidance and direction as the students talked about their plans for the semester. As the President of the Christian fellowship on campus, Ted took charge of the meeting and showed a lot of wisdom. We ended the meeting with great enthusiasm and anticipation for God’s blessing on campus.

Afterwards, when everyone else had left, I took the opportunity to encourage Ted for his leadership, and said that I’d like to get together with him regularly for discipleship. When he responded in kind, I was thrilled! Why? Because this kind of ministry is central to Christ’s own heart. During his time on earth, he spent so much of his time pouring himself into other men who would carry on his mission after he ascended. Humanly-speaking, if he had failed in this calling, the entire kingdom would have ended as soon as it had begun. It didn’t fail, of course, and its phenomenal success shows just how critical discipleship is to the vitality of the kingdom. By investing in men like Ted, I’m excited to share in this vision even today!

Here are some other ways we’re participating in God’s kingdom work now that the fall is here:

  • at Philadelphia University (“Philly U”), I’ll be attending their large group meetings and speaking there on September 10th. Going to large group should serve as a springboard for further ministry opportunities.
  • plans are being made to gather a core group at our new church, Pilgrim, as we think about reaching young people in our neighborhood. Several younger folks at the church have already expressed real interest in helping out, and we will hold an initial meeting this month.
  • we will have an after-church luncheon on September 14th for area students to start connecting them to us, each other, and the church.
  • there are so many more things going on right now, but space does not permit me to mention them now. More on this in a few days when things slow down!

Support Update

God has blessed us with some new support recently, and we have made good progress in terms of connecting with potential donors. Please keep praying for fruit along those lines – we want to be single-minded in our commitment to ministry!

In addition, there has been some ongoing confusion as to where current donors should send contributions. Please send your contributions, with “Stoudts” on the memo line, to:

Pilgrim Church
PO Box 35184
Philadelphia, PA 19128

Finally, our giving levels are still below where they need to be, so please keep this before the Lord.

On A Personal Note

Finally, we’d like to announce that Sharon is pregnant again! Although a miscarriage in March has reminded us, once again, to hold onto our children with an open hand, we are asking God to bless us with a safe pregnancy. If all goes well, the baby would be born in mid-April.

That’s all for now. Our praises and prayer requests fall along the lines of what we shared above. Please know that we prize each one of you, and think of you often, as we carry out this ministry day-by-day.

With love in Christ,
Bryan & Sharon

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Discipleship in Community

July 17, 2007


It’s official – the honeymoon is over.

As we begin Week Three of SMI, the ‘real me’ in each of us has come to the surface as the heat of the project, both literal and figurative, has pushed us to our limits. We’d like to say we’ve handled it perfectly, but we haven’t. Roommates have argued over bedtime routines, leaders have questioned the validity of our schedule, and project members have struggled to do their share of the work. Everyone has come to see what we meant when we told them SMI would be “the hardest summer you’ll ever love”.

Through it all, though, God has been so faithful! We are learning the reality of God’s grace described in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” [and, I might add, even our sin]. In God’s mercy, our weaknesses and sins, though a threat to the unity of our group and mission, have served to show us who we truly are and how desperately we need Christ. They have given us opportunities to speak – and receive – the truth in love. And they have demonstrated that Christian community is vital for our discipleship and growth in Christ.

This may not sound radical, but it is. Long after SMI is over and the hectic pace of medical school makes Christian community seem nearly impossible, the students will recall their time here. They will remember how God used the community powerfully throughout the summer, and seek to recreate that on their campuses even when it’s difficult. They will invest in others, showing them through word and deed what it means to practice healthcare for God’s glory. And, perhaps most importantly, they will teach those who come after them to do the same so that new disciples will be made until the Lord returns.