The trajectory was clear. A high school All American, captain of the Miami Hurricanes 2001 National Championship team, drafted to the NY Giants, then wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, Daryl Jones was looking forward to playing football for a long time until God intercepted his NFL career. Now an author, speaker and pastor of The Rock Fellowship, the growing congregation he planted in Miami Lakes, Dr. Daryl Jones is on a mission “to glorify God by making disciples to take back the world.” Following in the footsteps of his mentor Dr. Tony Evans, he’s also taken the gospel message on air through Point Ministries, broadcast on radio stations throughout most of Florida.
As a third-generation pastor, Jones said, “When I answered my call, I was with the Chicago Bears and my dad, my wife, my uncles, they all said, ‘We saw that coming.’ Even my teammates said, ‘You were always preaching.’” However, with a business degree, majoring in sports management, Jones pictured a career in football followed by athletics on the business side, eventually as an athletic director or general manager.
“I wanted to be a football player and be a good Christian, but God shifted my passion toward ministry to have me in this role, which is a role I never saw myself in, did not seek out, in some ways ran from, and yet now I know this is what I was born to be doing, so we have forsaken all else and we are all in,” Jones declared.
He described, “Playing with the Giants, with the Bears and with the Vikings, every single day of practice would turn into some sort of Bible study where guys would be asking me questions. Then there was one significant moment when a big-time player, right before we were about to go out on the field, pulled me into the back shower area, and crying, he said, ‘Hey, Daryl, will you pray for me?’ He didn’t even tell me what it was, but I prayed. That was part of the time when I knew this is what God has me here for. This is what I do.”
Answering the call
When the season was over, Jones returned to his hometown of Dallas, Texas, and started seminary. He was ordained at New Hope Baptist Church, where his father Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Jones served as pastor. “That’s where I got my roots. My dad baptized me when I was 15 and was part of my ordination counsel and prayer at the church,” Jones beamed.
His energy resonated with teens, and Jones was invited to serve on the youth ministry team at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in Dallas, where he later became the full-time youth pastor and thrived under the teaching of Dr. Tony Evans, who Jones describes as a spiritual father.
It was a simple question from his wife, Kamica, that signaled God was stirring things again. “We have seven children, and she was pregnant with our sixth when one morning she asked, ‘Are we ever moving back to Miami? Tell me now. Is it 5 years, 10 years?’ I looked at her and said, ‘Babe, I don’t want to have an argument, but we’re never moving back to South Florida.’ What got my attention was seven days later I got a call from one of my mentors and friends.” He heard a well-respected pastor with the North American Mission Board speak about targeting major cities to send pastors to raise up new churches. When they mentioned Miami, his mentor gave them Daryl’s name. “Why would you give my name out?” Jones protested, but for the next year he couldn’t shake it and realized “God was making it clear He was calling us back.”
They moved to Miami to embark on this new adventure when Kamica was one month away from having baby number seven. The Rock Fellowship was launched in 2015 and was meeting in a movie theater before COVID shut things down and they had to go virtual for a season. During that time, Pastor Robey Barnes, of City Rev Church in Pembroke Pines, invited Jones’ team to record their services at their facility for streaming.
Pastor Daryl had spoken at City Rev’s youth events before. “We knew the church, but we got to know them more deeply and partner with them during COVID. It was one of those beautiful ways to express that we’re all on the same team,” Barnes said, adding that they’ve become dear friends.
“Daryl has a real love and fire for life and for people. He’s one of those guys that if Daryl’s there, it’s more fun. God has given him that dynamic. And on top of that his life story is so inspiring – how God’s used him through football, calling him from a successful football career both at the University of Miami and then in the NFL into pastoral ministry. He’s now just laser focused about preaching the gospel, and that same drive that made him successful in sports is now applied to the ministry,” said Barnes, adding “He’s one of those guys that has really just unmovable character – real integrity, character, grounded on the scripture. An incredible athlete, he’s extremely intelligent, very gifted speaker, dynamic leader and the Lord has had his hand on him throughout his life. He’s one of those guys you’re glad the Lord has brought to South Florida – for him to serve down here on the battlefield as a local pastor, I’m just so glad that he’s here reaching Miami and Fort Lauderdale on the South Florida team.”
Barnes and Jones have done City Rev podcasts together and are bringing pastors together to stir up unity in Miami, in the spirit of Church United.
In March, Jones was the Keynote Speaker at the 51st Annual Orange Bowl Prayer Breakfast in support of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which had been postponed due to COVID.
“My FCA roots go back to middle school,” said Jones. “I grew up in church and committed my life to Jesus Christ when I was 15 years old at a youth retreat, active in FCA at my high school and then when I got to UM it was just one of those natural things when looking for community on campus. I also got acquainted with AIA (Athletes in Action) and Cru, so I was going to both. They combined a worship service that was huge for me in season and during track season because often my sports schedule made it difficult to go to church on Sunday. So those Bible study gatherings were crucial for me and my growth in Christ. And now I do some things with the current chaplains for FCA and AIA as well.”
FCA Multi-Area Director, Desmond Cook said when Jones spoke at their inaugural Trench Warrior Camp, “the kids ate it up!” He often speaks at FCA Huddles and has a heart for teenagers and young adults.
“When you know he played for the University of Miami, you don’t automatically think PK (Preacher’s Kid),” Cook commented. “But for Daryl it wasn’t just a label. He was personally committed and surrendered to the Lord himself, so even while he was at the University of Miami at the height of Miami’s craziness, he was still a man after God’s own heart. When you are an athlete on a college campus, every temptation in the world is right there. Everyone tells you this is what college life for you as a star player is supposed to look like, so to be counter cultural in that environment when you are just trying to figure out who you are, it can be difficult. That’s why I think his message is so vital.”
Desmond recommends Jones’ book Youth Matter: Kingdom Development, Kingdom Impact to many at FCA. “It’s a great read and an easy read for teenagers.”
Jones also released a book during COVID titled, Why Lord, Why? Finding Hope in a World of Hurt. “When people have questions, I often hear the phrase, ‘I didn’t know the Bible talked about that.’ This book was designed to provide God’s answer to problems of the world and to be able to fit in a purse or back pocket for people to pull from.”
The book was endorsed by Dr. Jack Graham, Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, and Dr. Tony Evans, Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church, who said, “Having seen Daryl lead in ministry well, I am confident of what God has in store. With an incredible gifting to teach God’s word and a passion for building relationship with people, I am excited to see what God will do through Pastor Daryl Jones and The Rock Fellowship in South Florida.”
Most recently, Dr. Daryl Jones completed a Ph.D. in New Testament and Biblical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in March.
Join the Jones family for Easter Sunday services at 1:30 p.m. at The Rock Fellowship Church, 6701 Miami Lakeway South, Miami Lakes, FL 33014. To learn more, visit rockfellowshipfl.org.
Read more by Shelly Pond at goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/