Sunday, December 17th was a great day for Jacksonville Jaguars fans, but not just because the team clinched the NFL playoffs.

What began in 2015 as an evangelistic tailgate event prior to a Jacksonville Jaguars game became the official “Faith, Family & Football” event before the final regular season game for the Jaguars this season.

L-R – David White, Jr., Scott Adams (FCA), and David Tarkington

Over the past two years, GameDay Church, a ministry of First Baptist Church in Orange Park and the First Family Network, has presented the Gospel to hundreds of football fans in Jacksonville. At most home games, the GameDay Church team, led by Brian Borden, an associate minister at First Orange Park, has provided pre-game meals, entertainment, games, and intentional Gospel conversations at the tailgate location on the west side of the football stadium. Lead Pastor David Tarkington has even taken GameDay Church to London the past two years on the weekends the Jaguars have played at their home-away-from-home, Wembley Stadium.

This year GameDay Church took over Daily’s Place, a pre-game entertainment venue where Jaguar fans gather to have fun, listen to music and get player autographs at the Flex Field immediately behind the Amphitheatre. Music filled the air as the Jason Lovins Band belted out a rocking rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” As people of all ages were drawn to the stage, some were on their feet with hands raised and others clapped along from their seats as more folks wandered in to see what was going on.

Renaldo Wynn, Director of Outreach, Joe Gibbs Racing & Game Plan for Life

Donovin Darius, Founder – Donovin Darius Foundation

Mike Logan, Former NFL player

They may have been surprised to find GameDay Church, with emcee Brian Jackson, WJXT 4 sports anchor and Pastor David Tarkington on stage. The crowd grew as local Christian rap group Wrekless Abandon joined the Jason Lovins Band to lead worship. Former Jaguar players Renaldo Wynn, Donovin Darius and Mike Logan, along with Scott Adams, Metro Jacksonville Director of the Northeast Florida chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and senior David White from Westside High School spoke, proclaiming Jesus Christ as the foundation of their lives and their greatest treasure, far beyond playing football and even winning Super Bowl rings.

While most attenders of the football game that day were eagerly hoping for a Jaguar victory, GameDay Church brought a different kind of celebration – one of a victory that had already been won 2,000 years ago.

GameDay Church has worked in partnership with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (baseball), Jacksonville Icemen (hockey), Jacksonville University and hopes to expand with partner churches and sports teams in other cities.

For more details, check out gamedaychurch.org.

By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, January 5, 2018 | With David Tarkington, First Family Network and Camille Wheeler, Jacksonville Baptist Association