This video was produced by Liberty University highlighting the impact that NFL Chaplains have on the world, but it took an interesting personal angle in Phillip Kelley's unique relationship with Dr. Jerry Falwell.
Dear World Changer,
Thank you for taking the time to prayerfully consider partnering with us in ministry as we strive to change the world by influencing professional athletes and coaches with the Gospel of Christ. Frances and I have taken a huge step of faith by venturing out as full-time missionaries through Athletes In Action (the athletic ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ – Cru, the largest Christian ministry in the world. (See cru.org).
While it would seem as if professional athletes live a charmed life because of the financial windfalls and celebrity status that comes their way, many of these men (and their families) are broken and searching for a purpose larger than the next game. Unfortunately, they don’t have trusted people to turn to in times of need because they don’t know who is helping them with ulterior motives. My goal is to eradicate that problem by being a voice in their lives that they can trust, showing them the greater life and leading them to leverage their newfound identity in Christ to reach other broken people!
Once these men are reached with the Gospel, their impact can truly change the world. For instance, I was recently at a Christian conference where 80 NFL players attended. We watched a video of a player sharing his testimony of God’s grace in his life. The speaker then challenged the other players to get their phones out and share this video with their social networks. The next day, we were shocked to see that in just a 24-hour span, that 5-minute testimony had reached 34 million people! 34 million! That’s what I’m talking about! That’s why I’m excited to invest in these men and their families. Yes, although NFL players and coaches are the focus of our ministry, they are not the scope of our ministry! We truly want to reach the world with the Gospel message – and our avenue just happens to be through the NFL.
With that in mind, would you please consider becoming a generously supporting prayer and financial partner? This ministry is made possible through monthly contributions from individuals, churches and businesses who have a desire to invest in Kingdom projects larger than themselves.
The Lord has opened up incredible doors of favor with the Chiefs organization in the last few years. Also, in addition to leading 5 weekly Bible studies at the stadium and in homes, last year we partnered with Fellowship of Christian Athletes to launch a fan’s chapel service at Arrowhead Stadium at 9:30am before every noon home game! This is unprecedented in the NFL and our goal is to develop services like this at every NFL stadium.
Our vision is to see this ministry set the tone and be a model of excellence for the rest of the league. Our prayer is that you will join us, both financially and prayerfully, as an investor in this ministry.
Chaplain, Kansas City Chiefs
---Levels of Partnership---
***Please know that every amount is received with gratitude and goes to impacting the world for Christ***
To set up your reoccurring gift (s) online, go to https://give.cru.org/0720350
---Ways to give your reoccurring or one-time gift(s)---
Our desire is to establish monthly, reoccurring gifts to allow us to budget accordingly for the seasons of ministry. Many people decide to make year-end gifts. Those are welcome as well.
1. ONLINE at https://give.cru.org/0720350
2. MAIL CHECK (make checks out to Athletes in Action)
Athletes in Action
PO Box 628222
Orlando, FL 32862-8222
3. Call: 1-888 CRU-7233 (1-888-278-7233).
Note: UPON GIVING ANY AMOUNT OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT, YOU WILL RECEIVE A TAX-EXEMPT RECEIPT FROM CRU (Athletes in Action is the athletic branch of CRU - Campus Crusade for Christ).
1. How did you get this opportunity?
· I was serving as the Spiritual Development Pastor at Grace Church of Overland Park where a few of the Chiefs players attended. During the 2013 preseason, the players asked if I could come and preach a 30-minute chapel service the night before one of the games. Afterwards, the coaches asked if I could come out every week and be a guest “speaker” for the team. Actually, I declined their offer. I said that if they wanted a “speaker” then I wasn’t their guy. There are plenty of other really good “speakers” out there who are better than me. But if they wanted a “pastor/ shepherd” who would invest in the players and their families by telling them what they need to hear and not just what they want to hear, then I would do it. They accepted my counter-offer and the rest has been history.
2. Do you travel with the team?
· As of this typing, no. Every team is different (some Chaplains travel, others travel occasionally, others don’t). I do, however, schedule and organize the chapel speakers for our away games.
3. The Chiefs have plenty of money, why can’t they just put you on their pay roll?
· After doing a lot of research on this subject, I’ve found that the overwhelming majority of NFL chaplains DO NOT want to be on the team payroll for a few reasons.
i. Political Correctness: Many teams strive to be “politically correct” in most of their actions. I’ve heard of team executives of other teams trying to limit what the chaplain says or doesn’t say about Jesus, salvation, etc. to keep their stance politically correct. This is not something that I can do. Jesus is still (and will always be) the “way, the truth and the life!”
ii. Job Security: NFL teams are comprised of two departments (football and business). The Chaplain is always positioned under the “football” department. The difficulty with this is that when a team goes on a losing streak, and the owners fire the head coach / GM, they usually clean house and fire everyone else associated with the “football” department. This includes the Chaplain if he is “on football staff”. However, if the Chaplain is through a 3rd party non-profit, he is exempt.
iii. Trust – As strange as it sounds, when players find out that the Chaplain is employed through the “football department” they tend to view him as one of “them.” In other words, the player is less likely to be vulnerable because he’s afraid that the Chaplain will be forced to report back to the higher-ups about the situation.
4. The players make millions of dollars, why can’t you just ask them to support you?
· Yes, these men have large amounts of resources at their disposal. However, with that comes what we call “leaches” - those people who want to take everything from them. People are asking something from these guys everyday, all day (money, tickets, autographs, favors, etc.). I have determined to be at least one person in their lives who never asks anything from them. I don’t want money, autographs, gear, tickets or any favors. One of the players told me that that the reason many of the guys on the team have opened up to me so much these last few years is that they know exactly where I stand and will never ask them for anything.
· Unfortunately many of the players have gotten burned by religious leaders who claim that they have their best interest in heart but really, they have their selfish motives. The locker-room is an extremely small environment where word spreads fast. The only word I want spreading fast among the guys is the power of the Gospel, not the fact that the Chaplain only wants their money.
· Taking this stance makes it more difficult to raise support, but this is a conviction of mine and one that Athletes in Action has valued for years.
5. What do you do on a daily basis?
I usually go up to the Chiefs practice facility every day and meet with players and staff about issues they are going through (marriage, addictions, budgeting, discipleship, leadership, etc.). It changes everyday. They have allowed me to use an office for closed-door counseling or 1-on-1 discipleship.
In addition to meeting with a variety of players, coaches and staff, this is the weekly rhythm of my schedule during the season:
· Team Chapel services (Saturday night prior to each game)
· Organize chapel services/ speakers for road games
· Team Bible Study
· (Thursday afternoons & Friday mornings)
· Coaches / Staff Bible Study
· (Friday mornings)
· Couples Bible Study for players and wives /girlfriends
· (Monday nights – average of 13-15 couples)
· Player’s Wives/ Girlfriends Bible Study
· (led by Chaplain’s wife on Thursday mornings – average of 17 in attendance)
· Sunday Morning Faith and Family Fan’s Chapel for noon home games
· Arrowhead Stadium (in the Bud-Light Party Pavilion)
· 7:30am volunteer training, 9:30–10:15am service
· Recruit & train 50 weekly volunteers
· Attendance: 250-300 weekly (this will grow once news gets out)
6. What do you do in the offseason?
Athletes in Action has had a strong presence in the NFL for over 30 years and has the only recognized NFL sanctioned events. These events are promoted through the NFL…
· AIA Super Bowl Breakfast (1,500 attendees) – where we share the Gospel & present Bart Starr Award (Peyton Manning won in 2014).
· AIA Pro-Bowl Chapels – 2 AIA chaplains get selected each year to minister to the players and families in the Pro Bowl.
· NFL Combine (Indianapolis, IN) – AIA Chaplains lead two weeks worth of Bible studies for all of the coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams.
· Senior Bowl (Mobile, AL) – AIA Chaplains lead the chapel services for all of the outgoing college seniors before this showcase bowl game.
· Owner’s meetings (Orlando, FL) – 2 AIA Chaplains lead the annual NFL owner’s meeting Bible studies.
· OTA (optional training activity) – April 20-June 20 (Bible studies, 1-1 discipleship)
· Training Camp (3 weeks) – August 10-September 5 (Bible studies, 1-1 discipleship)
7. How much ministry does Fran have?
· Fran’s ministry is incredible to the wives & girlfriends. In fact, an argument could be made that she has more impact on the team than I do. Not only is she simply amazing at pouring into the lives of these women, but she challenges these women to allow their husbands to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. Her constant encouragement and counsel to these ladies is remarkable. She’s constantly on the phone or meeting one-on-one with the women. They trust her explicitly. It’s a joy to watch her minister in her area of giftedness.
8. What are some of the Bible studies and Chapel topics that you go through with the Team / Coaches?
· 2013 – book of James, Nehemiah, 1, 2, 3 John, various chapel topics, book Not a Fan
· 2014 – book Samson Syndrome, book gods at War, book Uncommon, marriage study by Andy Stanley, various chapel topics
9. What is your goal for the season?
· Daily Goal: To challenge everyone with whom I come in contact take their next spiritual step.
· Yearly Goal: To raise up players who will leverage their unique platform to share the gospel to the world.
· Future Goal: To leave a legacy of intentional spiritual discipleship where Kansas City Chiefs become the standard of excellence in their chaplain / character development program.
10. What is the financial distribution with Athletes in Action (AIA)?
· For every dollar raised, 12% goes towards the administrative, operational costs for AIA in general. This helps ensure the 501c3 non-profit status and helps cover the administrative costs of running the ministry.
· The rest goes directly towards ministry! Although Frances and I receive a modest salary through AIA, we can testify that every dollar given is allocated with ministry in mind.
· Regardless how much money is donated, our personal salary remains the same (so don’t worry about giving too much) ;-)
11. Is AIA approved by the ECFA (Evangelical Counsel on Financial Accountability)?
12. How long as AIA and Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) been in existence?
· Started in 1951 by Bill Bright. An amazing read on the history of Cru can be found HERE.