Friday, May 17, 2019

Serving Millennials and Gen Z Sportspeople

For many character coaches and sports chaplains of my generation (Baby Boomers – I’m about to turn 63) we find it difficult to connect with those we seek to serve that are among the Millennials and Generation Z. Brief descriptions of various generations are below. Much of our disconnect  is due to failing assumptions, misaligned values, and differences in communication styles. Some characteristics of these differences and some thoughts about how to better connect are below. Some of the characteristics that can present opportunities for those serving Millennials and Gen Z sportspeople are bolded.

Baby Boomers - born 1945-1964 (76 million in USA)
·        Anti-war
·        Anti-government
·        Anything is possible
·        Equal rights
·        Equal opportunities
·        Extremely loyal to their children
·        Involvement Optimism
·        Personal Gratification
·        Personal Growth
·        Question Everything
·        Spend now, worry later
·        Team Oriented
·        Transformational
·        Trust no one over 30
·        Youth
·        Work
·        Want to “make a difference.”

Generation X - born 1965-1979 (83 million in USA)
·        Balance
·        Diversity
·        Entrepreneurial
·        Fun
·        Highly Educated
·        High job expectations
·        Independent
·        Informality
·        Lack of organizational loyalty
·        Pragmatism
·        Seek life balance
·        Self-reliance
·        Skepticism/Cynical
·        Suspicious of Boomer values
·        Think Globally
·        Techno literacy

Millennials - born 1980-1994 (73 million in USA)
·        Achievement
·        Avid consumers
·        Civic Duty
·        Confidence
·        Diversity
·        Extreme fun Fun!
·        High morals
·        Highly tolerant
·        Hotly competitive
·        Like personal attention
·        Self-confident
·        Sociability
·        Members of global community
·        Most educated generation
·        Extremely techno savvy
·        Extremely spiritual
·        Now!
·        Optimism
·        Realism
·        Street smarts

Generation Z - born 1995-2015 (4-24 years of age)
• Just under 74 million in the USA
Digital natives (They grew up with smartphones.)
Career driven from early on
• Post-Christian social context
Looking for mentors (As are Millennials.)

During the recent FCA Collegiate Ministries Conference we heard a talk by Jonathan, JP, Pokluda about ministry with Millenials and Generation Z. Below are his three primary points of emphasis.

1. Engage them with a BIG ASK and authenticity. (This will be the hardest thing you've ever done, but it will be worth it.)

2. Equip them for real life with the Bible. I Timothy 3:16-17

3. Empower them to engage and equip others. (How will you make a difference in the lives of your teammates and friends?)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Burnout Indicator Lights

During the recent Fellowship of Christian Athletes Collegiate Ministries Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas (USA), the 100+ attendees received a presentation from Licensed Professional Counselor, Kim DeRamus Lareau, related to burnout. At whatever level of sport we serve, this is certainly a possibility for sports chaplains and character coaches. Our service can be quite consuming, involve many hours, and a good deal of stress. Kim offered the points below as dashboard indicator lights. My outline of notes taken are below. Thank you, Kim.

As you are driving along in your service of sportspeople, teams, and clubs, please keep watch for these warning lights. If they’re flashing at you, please take appropriate action. We need you to be at your best to serve well.

Burnout Indicator Lights-
o   Emotional reactions don't fit the related issue. (Greater or lesser)
o   Stress related physical symptoms. (Headaches, nausea, etc.)
o   Anxiety.
o   Depression. (despair & hopelessness)
o   Cynicism. (more often in men)
o   Difficulty in letting go of perfection.
o   Decreased ability to rest or recharge.
o   Impacts upon relationships. (Self, friends, God)
o   Difficulty setting boundaries.
o   Addictive behaviors.
o   Secondary trauma. (Second hand)
o   Compassion fatigue. (Out of empathy)


• Ask someone for accountability. 
• Make time for deep friendships. 
• Be mindful of fitness. 
• Practice faith disciplines.
• Recharge your passion.
• Recognize we have limited capacity. 
• Seek counseling.
• Make time for a hobby or creativity. 


Boundaries - When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

Healthy Emotional Spirituality: Unleashing the Power of Authentic Life in Christ by Peter Scazzero

Soul Rest by Curtis Zackery

Didn't See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof

Friday, May 3, 2019

Surviving or Thriving?

A few weeks ago I was privileged to participate in the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Collegiate Ministries Conference in Fort Worth, TX. Among the excellent presentations, panel discussions, and hours of conversation, was the presentation outlined below by Sarah Gackle of FCA at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama (USA).

One of the challenges common to sports ministries is staff turnover. This is true for FCA and it’s even more an issue among young women. Sarah shared this set of areas of life into which one should sow to not just survive, but to thrive. A number of my colleagues said this was most immediately applicable and useful to their service. Thanks, Sarah.

What is surviving? What is thriving?

Thriving is sowing seed (time, attention, resources) in 6 areas of life:
• Fitness (sleep, nutrition, exercise)
• Faith
• Family
• Finance (home & ministry)
• Friends 
• Focus

Self-evaluation tool:

Rate each area with this scale:
1 - poor
2 - below average 
3 - above average 
4 – excellent

In which areas should you be sowing more?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Conference Calls / Podcasts / 2019-2020

In November of 2016 we began hosting monthly conference calls for my colleagues serving as sports chaplains and character coaches. I was very pleased with the quality of our guests, the wisdom shared among our teammates, and the reception we experienced from around the USA and even abroad. In May of 2018 we began recording the calls and posting them as podcasts. We have learned, slowly, about how to do these more effectively and in a way that is most responsive to our colleagues.

The graphic below shows the blog posts most strongly visited in the last thirty days. Some are written entries and others are podcast recordings. It is my intention to continue to host these podcasts and to interview some of the leading character coaches and sports chaplains from around the USA and the world.

I would welcome your input for shaping the upcoming podcasts. Please reply via email to if you would like to be, or would suggest someone, as a guest panelist for one of the podcasts listed below. I’ll be gathering names and information for the first three calls during the spring and summer.

These are the proposed topics for the next eleven monthly podcasts. An informal survey via SMS messages indicated strong interest and some volunteered to participate.

·        Serving in College / HS Soccer (Football)  –July, 2019
·        Serving in College Football (American Football) – August, 2019
·        Serving in High School Football (American Football)  - September, 2019
·        Serving in Professional Football (American Football) - October, 2019
·        Serving in College Basketball – November, 2019
·        Serving in HS Basketball - December, 2019
·        Serving in College / HS Wrestling – January, 2020
·        Serving in College / HS Baseball - February, 2020
·        Serving in College / HS Softball - March, 2020
·        Serving in Professional Baseball - April, 2020
·        Serving in Professional Softball - May, 2020

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Topics, Issues, and Guests for a New Season of Podcasts

For the last few years I have hosted monthly conference calls, those of the last 8 months now posted as podcasts. 

As I begin to contemplate another set of 8, I’d like to hear your thoughts for topics, issues, or guests to include. Please reply with your thoughts by emailing

Below is one of the graphics from the past year’s podcasts. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019

A Poll of Sports Chaplains and Character Coaches

A poll was conducted among my network of sports chaplains and character coaches via text message. The questions I asked are below and the insightful replies are below them. I hope you find these notes to be of value, to encourage you, and even to challenge you.

Questions –
1.   What have been among your most rewarding moments in serving as a sports chaplain?
2.   What have been among your most challenging moments in serving as a sports chaplain?
3.   When and from whom do you learn the most for your service as a sports chaplain?
4.   Who are the greatest allies for your service as a sports chaplain?

Question 1 – What have been among your most rewarding moments in serving as a sports chaplain?

Brandi Cantrell – Texas Tech University
Walking with a coach or athlete that doesn't yet know the Lord and then getting to pray with them to receive Jesus as their Savior. Also, seeing a coach and/or athlete grow in their walk with Jesus in tangible, noticeable ways. And - when you have been investing, investing, investing in a coach - and finally a door opens for ministry.

Bill Houston – PowerUp Sports Ministry
Two come to mind-once when no one showed for chapel in Arena League and a player caught me later and said, "Sorry we couldn't make it...never stop doing what you're doing!" The other is this season when a coach who arrived later in the season said, "I can't wait to tell you what God is doing in my life!"
Ev Nelson – University of North Dakota
Building Relationships!!! Seeing Gods transformational power working in the lives of those we minister to.
Russ Talley – Northern Illinois University
Witnessing men receiving salvation when they accept Christ.  Also hearing of the people who receive Christ as a result of the testimony and discipleship of an athlete.

Tony Overstake – University of Oregon
Performing wedding ceremonies for the athletes I work with/ baptizing my athletes, and their kids.

David Melms – Minnesota FCA
The student-athletes coming to know and grow in love for Jesus and seeing influence their identity coupled with become a spiritual leader in some form within their team.

Jeremy Tims – Oklahoma FCA
Getting the opportunity to throw a life preserver or even pulling so that these kids into the lifeboat when I notice that they are going down the wrong path. Being able to create an authentic relationship with them when nobody else has that opportunity, so that they can hear what they NEED to hear from a person who loves them and has no ulterior motives.

Billy Holder – Indiana FCA
Serving the athletes.

Richard Lopez – University of Arizona FCA
Being called upon by the football operations guys to address team when one of their teammates passed away in his sleep.

Question 2 - What have been among your most challenging moments in serving as a sports chaplain?

Brandi Cantrell –
The turnover rate with coaches AND athletes!!! Relationship building is hard and takes time! And then they leave.

Bill Houston
Just last season when our Bible study leader for the GR Drive-Zeke Upshaw, collapsed on the floor and later went home to Jesus. Serving this team at that point, under those circumstances was something I had never done before. God met with us and carried us through a very difficult time. I was called upon to do things I had never had to do before. 

Ev Nelson
Feeling alone at times because we are separated by distance from the rest of our FCA state team. Also at times the brokenness of our athletes can be discouraging. Sometimes I wonder if we are really making an impact or difference but I know God is there through it all. He is always working behind the scenes.

Russ Talley
Knowing how to deal with the trauma of injury or death in the moment when it first occurs.  It's always a challenge to know what to say, not say or how much to say.

Tony Overstake
Performing Memorial services for University of Oregon Athletes and navigating athletic administration.

David Melms
Student-athlete/FCA leaders living in sin that isn’t confessed and repented that comes out due to public spotlight or some form of humiliation rather than their honesty.

Jeremy Tims
The 1st couple of years were very challenging for me. It takes many practices, many visits, many questions and high fives in order to gain trust and access into their locker room and hearts.  It is also challenging now because there is so much more opportunity to do ministry with 100 plus people on a specific team or University staff.

Billy Holder
Coaches' attitudes.

Richard Lopez
Watching coaches degrade athletes and tearing them down.

Question 3 - When and from whom do you learn the most for your service as a sports chaplain?

Brandi Cantrell
Fellow chaplains and best practices share sessions! Sometimes conferences. But mostly from friends who serve in the same area of ministry that I do! Especially the ones that have experience.

Bill Houston
Many sources come to mind calls I will make to fellow chaplains for direction and encouragement. Books, online resources on sports ministry...conferences I might attend and from a couple gentlemen who have agreed to listen to me and pray for me.

Ev Nelson
Listening to God and the fellowship of other FCA staff and ministry partners. My wife Teri who works by my side and really our FCA student leadership have taught us so much!!

Russ Talley
The Bible is #1. #2 is Roger Lipe.

Tony Overstake
Dusty Davis former University of Oregon Chaplain, Ryan Johnston Western Oregon FCA Director, and Roger Lipe.

David Melms
Tom Lamphere (Minnesota Vikings chaplain with AIA) has taken me under his wing and imitated ministering to people of sport in a way I can see it being played out and innovate based on my gifting and circumstances.

Jeremy Tims
My main source of leadership comes straight from the previous chaplain who was in my position for 10 plus years. He understands the process and the value of relationships. He also understands how the program operates and what they expect.

Billy Holder
The Holy Spirit, Roger Lipe, my own studies.

Richard Lopez
By always watching and learning from others and reading as much material on creating relationships and leadership principles.

Question 4 - Who are the greatest allies for your service as a sports chaplain?

Brandi Cantrell
Coaches for sure. Also, athletic administration - ADs, associate ADs, etc. Another great ally has been the athletes themselves. Sometimes if a coach is unsure about utilizing a chaplain, an athlete who will talk to their coach about the need for you goes a long way!

Bill Houston
Again, a couple gentlemen I meet with on a regular basis have been a huge help to me. Even a couple coaches, not believers, but very supportive of the chaplain program, will offer insight as it relates to the work I'm involved with and how I can serve them and our players on a more effective level. 

Ev Nelson
FCA Staff. Without a doubt. Their encouragement and prayers in the hardest times help to refocus us and keep us fighting.

Russ Talley
My wife - The head coach.

Tony Overstake
Christian Coaches and Administrators.

David Melms
Christian athletic administrators or coaches.

Jeremy Tims
My greatest ally is one of our associate athletic directors. He is a Christian man that looks out for our best interests. Another great ally (who doesn't know he is) is the director of football operations. He controls everything that happens off of the playing field. You have to be in good with him. I also believe the athletic department secretary is another person you half to make sure you have a relationship with. They hold the key and know so much!

Billy Holder
Parents, athletes, administration, and coaches that brought me on board.

Richard Lopez
Other ministries who are devoted to serve athletes and coaches.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Unite my heart to fear Your name.

For the last several years I have been encouraging coaches and competitors, sports ministry professionals and volunteers, to live their lives in sport in an integrated, holistic fashion, over against a compartmentalized, dualistic manner. This is the Lord’s way and it is the best, most satisfying, fulfilling way to experience Christ’s presence and pleasure in the experience of sport. One excellent scripture that speaks to this approach is below. I hope it encourages your heart toward a rich, full, and Christ-filled life in sport.

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever. Psalms 86:11-12

"Unite my heart..."-
To unite one's heart is to take the presently divided, compartmentalized, duplicitous heart, and to restore it to integrated, complete wholeness. Far too often, our sporting friends live in the pernicious dichotomy of sport vs. faith, rather than the graceful life of sport and faith.

The aim of this uniting of heart, the restoration to integrity of heart, is to properly honor the name (the essence and nature) of God our Father. We who live in the sporting world are privileged to bring honor to our Lord by the way we compete, the way we serve each other, the way we love coaches, teammates, opponents, and the officials.

Receiving the continual teaching of His way (selfless integrity) and the daily dwelling in His truth (God-breathed wisdom) are the pathways to a united heart. We must receive training in the Lord’s way as we train and prepare for sport. We must also dwell in the Word of God for our minds and hearts to be informed by truth.

With a united, integrated heart we daily and forever express thankfulness and glorify God's name with wholehearted devotion. Our worship-work reveals the nature of the One we serve. Such a life is glorious to behold and it inspires gratitude in the soul of the worshipful servant of Christ Jesus. My prayer is that our lives in sport are channels for expressions of thankfulness to God for all that we experience. I also pray that our daily training, teamwork, and competition reveal the nature of the Lord Jesus. The end result is that God is glorified and our souls are filled with thankfulness.