Pointing the Bat
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
It was 1932 and the World Series that year was between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees.
The series was tied with one win each. During game three of the series one of the more famous pictures in baseball history was taken.
It was the top of the fourth inning and Babe Ruth stepped to the batter’s box. It was a classic showdown between baseball greats. The pitcher that day was Charlie Root who was and still remains the winningest pitcher in the history of the Chicago Cubs. And Babe Ruth was and still remains one of the best home run hitters in the history of baseball.
Babe Ruth had taken two strikes and the fans of Wrigley Field were starting to heckle him. Babe Ruth calmly stepped out of the batter’s box and pointed towards center field. He then hit the next pitch 440 feet to the exact spot that he pointed. The Yankees won the game and eventually the World Series that year.
Babe Ruth knew what he wanted to do, and he set a goal to do it.
Of course, the game could have gone the other way. He could have swung the bat and missed. Babe Ruth, while known as a home run hitter, was also known to strike out many times as well.
But Babe Ruth kept stepping to the plate and swinging the bat, hitting the ball and helping his team. While he held a home run record for many years, he also held a strike out record as well.
In fact, his strike-out record also lasted for many years. During the years that Babe Ruth was playing it was considered bad to strike out. Players didn’t want to take the risk of swinging hard. Hitting a home run was considered a fluke.
Babe Ruth, however, was a risk taker and kept swinging the bat and changed the way players approached the game. Did he strike out a lot? Yes. But he also hit a lot of home runs and helped win a lot of games.
The Washington Conference territory is filled with many challenges and opportunities for ministry.
Over the years many things have been tried to spread the great news of Jesus, His love and His soon return. Some of those things have been strike outs. Churches have been planted that have not survived. Meetings have been planned and conducted that didn’t seem to end well.
There have also been many churches planted that have taken root and grown to make a great impact in their communities. There have been churches revitalized as people have renewed their commitments to Jesus. And yes, some church who have a long history have slowed died as well.
But the gospel commission in Matthew 28 still remains the same.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Jesus says to keep moving forward and keep the message going out. We need our churches to be praying and working for revitalization. To be filled with the Holy Spirit and with people committed to be totally committed and involved with ministry for Jesus. Praying for ways to reach the community and trying those ways. There may be strike outs but there will also be large and small wins as well.
Will you step to the plate and point where God is leading you to hit the ball?
We still have unreached areas where new churches need to be planted. Did you know that denominations that don’t plant churches are dying denominations? Denominations need to plant at least one percent of their total number of churches just to stave off decline. For the Washington Conference that is just over 1 church per year that needs to start. Praise God that over the last five years we have planted 3-4 churches per year. However, the harvest field is still plentiful. Will you step to the plate and point to where God is leading you to hit the ball?