Friday, January 30, 2015

FCA Sports Chaplains Conference

The annual FCA Sports Chaplains Conference in Plano, Texas will be held 16-18 March of 2015. This will be a very good event for anyone serving sportspeople at any level. We have purposely programmed for those serving junior high or middle school teams, club teams, high schools, college and university teams, as well as sport professionals. Please consider joining us for this excellent time of powerful presentations, lots of time to network, and encouragement.

The 2015 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sport Chaplains Conference will be 16-18 March at the Hope Center in Plano, Texas. http://www.thehopecenter.org/

Registration is now available at http://www.fcachaplains.org/conference-registration



Cost:
$249: includes lodging, meals and conference expenses
$125: includes meals and conference expenses

Flights:
Please fly into the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)

Registration:

Online registration is available now. You may use a credit card to pay. If you need to pay via check, call or email Jordan Barnes and she will take your registration information. JBarnes@fca.org  or (800) 289-0909.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sport God's Way

I recently became aware of a website on faith and sport which originates from Australia. Sport God’s Way http://www.sportgodsway.com/ is a fresh look at sport from God’s perspective as written by Zac Metcalfe. Below is a recent article he submitted on Competition.

Please take a few minutes to give the website a look and to send Zac an encouraging note. Thanks.

Competition

Competition is at the heartbeat of sport. Without it, sport ceases to exist, and all we are left with is exercise. It is important that we think about whether it is ok for us as Christians to participate in competition. 

Competition brings out a lot of different characteristics in our current sports culture. Characteristics like perseverance, graciousness, cheating, pride, sacrifice, humility, obsession, glory seeking and arrogance. As you can see some of these things are characteristics that God affirms and that can bring Him glory, and some are not.

So if we put them into categories:

Godly:
-       Perseverance
-       Sacrifice
-       Teamwork
-       Graciousness

Ungodly:
-       Pride
-       Obsession
-       Arrogance
-       Glory seeking
-       Cheating

As Christians we want to strive to rid ourselves of ungodly characteristics.

So the big question is can competition still happen without the list of ungodly
characteristics?

Although in our current culture it is acceptable and often expected to have some of these characteristics when we compete, it is still possible to compete without them. It is hard because we are not conforming to the way of the world. But Jesus, our king promises that He will help us, and renew us to be more like Him (Colossians 3:10). Ask Him to help you.

Competition also enables us to experience winning and losing. These things in themselves are not bad or good but its how we view them or how we respond to them that gives them meaning. There is a difference between how our culture traditionally views and responds to winning and losing compared to how a Christian should respond.

Winning:
-       Our culture views winning as the ultimate goal.
-       Christians should view winning as the aim but not the number one goal and ultimately irrelevant (1 Corinthians 9:25).
-       Our culture responds to winning with arrogance.
-       Christians should respond to winning with humility (Proverbs 27:2).

Losing:
-       Our culture views losing as the worst possible thing.
-       Christians should view losing as disappointing and not the result we where after, but ultimately irrelevant (1 Corinthians 9:25).
-       Our culture responds to losing with blame and envy.
-       Christians should respond to losing with humility and graciousness (Philippians 2:3-4).

As we have looked at, there are two ways in which we can view, respond to, and go about competition. This is where we see that competition gives us a great opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to be different but still competitive. We know the way our culture competes is not God honouring as we have looked at. But it is still possible to compete in a way that is, and in doing so showing people there is a different way, a way that we as Christians strive for, because we love Jesus (Matthew 5:16).

By Zac Metcalfe

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sport's Relationship With Television

Since television’s invention and the first sports event to be broadcast, it has had a tremendous amount of influence in the world of sport. I can recall watching sporting events like ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Olympic Games, boxing matches, and Major League Baseball on a black and white TV with a grainy and sometimes rolling picture, from the earliest days of my youth. When ESPN began broadcasting in late 1979, everything changed. Sports on television became a much greater economic force and is presently a remarkable cash cow for ESPN, ABC, and Disney. Add in the factors that we can now watch football (soccer) live from Europe, South America, and most anywhere else, it is a world-wide industry of immense proportion.

As of today, sport on television is primarily a television production, with the contest, the sport, the competitors, and the officials being purely coincidental. Cash runs the machine and television producers and directors make the decisions about how the game is played. The tail is violently wagging the dog. The dog seems to be going along with the wagging rather compliantly because the dollars are piling up greatly. This symbiotic relationship presents some issues for us who serve in this environment. Let’s consider a few of them.

Given that most of us are volunteers in this world, we are not paid directly by the sports organization we serve, we are one step removed from the money machine. We are, however, affected by it. We can see how greed, instant wealth, instant financial loss, and other financial factors impact those we serve. We are charged with helping them navigate these shark filled waters and to help them see the Lord’s way in dealing with all these financial pressures. One of the greatest tests of a person’s character is the rapid accumulation of wealth and power. Let’s commit to helping our friends pass the test.

Come to grips with the reality that cash makes the machine run and serve in light of that fact. It does little good to complain about it, but we may be the ones who can help others deal with these factors. It may assault your idealistic notions about the purity of sport, especially amateur sport, to concede that financial matters have this much power, but a realistic, non-cynical view of sport can be most helpful in serving those who live in its grip.

Don’t let this aspect of sport shape your values for ministry. I am aware of some in sports ministry who try to take advantage of the wealth those they serve have gained for their own advantage. Put more simply, some of our sport chaplain colleagues solicit donations from those they serve. This creates a real problem for all those concerned. Some of our wisest, longest serving colleagues have told me very clearly that they never seek contributions from those they serve. If a player or coach offers, without solicitation, to make a donation, they receive it gladly. The obvious point is that if the sportsperson sees me walking towards him and thinks that I’m here to ask him for money, I have already forfeited my opportunity to serve him well. Don’t let the power of money, the culture of wealth, shape your values for ministry. Serve wisely and beware the demonic power of greed.

Beware the allure of the camera. For many the prospect of being seen on television, alongside the high profile sportsperson is a very seductive thought. We can even rationalize and justify our camera chasing as a way to promote our ministry, to raise the profile of our service, to bask in the reflected glory of the star player. Such thought is folly. Serve wisely, humbly, and don’t worry about whether you are on camera. Be who you are with integrity. It may be that some of your friends see you on TV, but I pray that it is in the context of extravagant love for and selfless service of sportspeople. To turn the television camera into your personal, high definition, full color, live action, selfie device would be a terrible tragedy.


The relationship between sport and television is complex and full of perils for those who serve in its shadow. Beware the foolish and corrupt values it brings with it. Look for wise and pure avenues of service with the men and women of sport. They will find your attitude and values to be an oasis in the desert of televised sport.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Serving Wisely Across Gender Lines

Across these last twenty years of ministry in sport, I have had opportunities to serve both men and women. While there are many similarities in my approach, there are some major distinctions as well. I have had over twenty seasons of serving a men’s college football (American Football) team, college and professional Baseball for several seasons, and less formal relationships with individual male competitors. I have also served a Women’s Basketball team for almost twenty seasons, a Women’s Volleyball team, and individual female competitors in Swimming, Diving, and Softball. Let’s think together about some ways of serving well across gender lines.

Set wise parameters for your ministry across gender lines. In my ministry with men, as I am granted access to offices, changing (locker) rooms, and such, I feel free to go with few restrictions and no anxiety. In my ministry with women’s teams, I am much more conscious of boundaries. When invited into a female coach’s office to talk, I do not close the door. I don’t walk into the locker rooms, when invited, until someone tells me everyone is dressed. I do not give young women rides home from ministry meetings. I keep our interactions from becoming overly familiar. As relationships build, I am sometimes greeted with a hug, but I am sure to keep them from becoming too intimate. I am careful about the nature of our discussions. I meet with female coaches in public places, never at my home or my office. Setting wise parameters can help keep the relationships on the proper plane and avoid foolish affections.

Wisely define relationships with those you are serving. In the first season of serving a Women’s Basketball team, twenty years ago, I was very confused at first. I did not know how to properly to relate to the coaches or the players. I grew up with no sisters, my only child is my son, and I had been married to my wife for nineteen years at that point. I knew how to flirt with women, but was pretty sure that wasn’t the right thing to do. I had to figure out how to relate to these people. In reading I and II Timothy I understood the instruction he was given to treat the older women as mothers and the younger ones as sisters. I began to see the coaching staff as sisters and the players like daughters. I had to learn from my friends about how to relate to sisters and daughters, but figured it out. This resulted in a great deal of freedom and a greater sense of ease among them. Defining these relationships in this way helped me to view them properly and to care for them appropriately. It also enabled me to be a “surrogate father” to young women who are often competing in sport, being primarily motivated to please their fathers.


While many in our profession will insist there is no proper way to serve across gender lines, I have found that it is possible to serve well, if one sets proper parameters and wisely defines relationships with those he or she is serving. Whether serving men or women, within your gender or with the opposite gender, let’s commit to serve selflessly and to love extravagantly. It’s really hard to fail when those are our guiding principles.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Worship and Sport

If we in the Church and in the Sports Ministry community value worship as much as we say we do, how many hours of any given week should be given to worship? It is a valid question for contemplation.

1.5 hours per week (an average church service) = 1.33% of a week's waking hours.

If we were to learn to worship God while engaged in sport, we who live in the sporting world could really live out our stated value.

20 hours of training and practice per week (The NCAA mandated training limit for collegiate sport in the USA) is almost 18% of one's waking hours. That is a much more appropriate portion of time to engage in worship and doesn't even include worship services, personal devotions, Bible studies, etc.

How do we develop a sense of the Lord Jesus' presence and pleasure; a consciousness of His lordship over sport and all our relationships in it? How shall we engage our minds, bodies, and spirits in worship as we train and compete? How can we encourage, inspire, lead, and challenge our teammates, coaches, opponents, and the officials in our act of worship on the court, pitch, track, field, mat, or in the pool? I would offer a few simple, but dynamic suggestions.

A) Build simple spiritual disciplines into the course of our daily training, practice, travel, and rest.
   1) Weave prayer into the fabric of our lives in sport. (Pray for and with others in your spirting world. Compose and implement simple prayers for the myriads of situations in sport to invite the Lord's presence, provision, or protection. Stressful moments often leave us not knowing how to pray. I Thessalonians 5 :17)
    2) Read, study, memorize, and meditate on the scriptures in our sporting environments, in our training gear, in the changing room, on the pitch, the field, in the pool, or on the court. (Take scripture portions with you on paper, on your mobile phone, written on your shoes, tape, or skin, or in your mind through memorization. II Timothy 3:16)
    3) Practice Christian community with our teammates and friends as we live together in our sporting lives. (Share meals and pray together. Care for teammates and others in distress. Seek ways to connect more deeply with those in your sport community. John 13:34)
    4) Speak about our lives in Christ with those around us, both those following and yet to follow Jesus. (Invite teammates to attend church or a small group with you. Share your experiences of God's grace with others in similar situations. Let others observe the spiritual disciplines being woven into the fabric of your life in sport. I Peter 3:15)

B) Work to fully integrate our lives in Christ with our lives in sport.
    1) Define and employ Christ-honoring values and habits on and off the field of competition.
    2) Develop godly relationships with family, friends, teammates, coaches, opponents, officials, support personnel, and the local Church.
    3) Embrace the stability and assurance of our identity in Christ over the fickle and temporary nature of an identity based in our sporting performance.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2015 FCA Sport Chaplains Conference

The 2015 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sport Chaplains Conference will be 16-18 March at the Hope Center in Plano, Texas. http://www.thehopecenter.org/


Registration is now available at www.fcachaplains.org

Cost:
$249: includes lodging, meals and conference expenses
$125: includes meals and conference expenses

Flights:
Please fly into the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)

Registration:

Online registration is available now. You may use a credit card to pay. If you need to pay via check, call or email Jordan Barnes and she will take your registration information. JBarnes@fca.org or (800) 289-0909.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Love Extravagantly and Serve Selflessly

For the last several years I have been describing the primary tasks of sports chaplaincy as being to: Love Extravagantly and to Serve Selflessly. Those are rather broad and sweeping terms and may be too vague for some to gather and to translate into action. The following paragraphs are my attempt at providing example of each. I hope the examples inspire and possibly even provoke you to strong, extravagant, selfless love and service.

When a sports chaplain pursues redemptive relationships with coaches and competitors who are not yet Christians and may not value his or her presence, that is extravagant love.

When a character coach relentlessly attends practices, training sessions, team meetings, and any other team function in the most inconvenient hours of the day, that is extravagant love.

When a sports mentor refuses to give up on the player he or she is mentoring, even when the competitor is more than ready to quit, to withdraw from sport, and even despairs of life itself, that is extravagant love.

When a sports chaplain actively seeks opportunities to take on the most menial tasks, to assist coaches and players with the most unpleasant chores, to find ways to be an ally to the support staff in their roles, that is selfless service.

When a character coach contemplates the genuine needs of his or her team and sees opportunities to take action, that is selfless service.

When a sport mentor is so well connected with those he or she mentors that serving them is a natural outgrowth of their love and respect and there is no thought of personal benefit, that is selfless service.

Extravagant love is, by nature, not safe, not convenient, not easy, not measured, not calculating, but is powerful, transformational, and of lasting effect.

Selfless service is, by nature, not self-centered, not normal, not common, not easy, not always fun, not always noticed or respected, but it is always appropriate, effective, and Christ-honoring.


Let’s be the ones who love extravagantly and serve selflessly. By doing so we will make a powerful impact upon the world of sport and all those who live in it.