Friday, February 12, 2016

Beginnings and Endings of Sports Seasons

No matter the sport with which you serve, there is a natural rhythm to the season. Each season has a beginning and an end. Most have a pre-season and a post-season. We would be wise to understand these natural rhythms and to shape our work so as to take advantage of both the beginning and the end of the season. Following are some thoughts about both the beginning and ending of sports seasons.

Beginning of a season –
·        The great thing about this part of the season is that everyone starts undefeated. Hope beats strongly in the hearts of every team and each player and coach during this part of the season. As soon as the first competition is completed, half of all the teams competing now have losses. Let the hope and anticipation of the new season work for you as you speak with everyone in terms filled with hope, expectation, excitement, and anticipation of good things.
·        The downside of this part of the season is that some have expectations that range from unrealistic to laughable. If we are wise we will help these, less than reasonable, players or coaches to focus on the daily process of preparation and competition, over against a set of results that they hope validate their optimism. Talk in terms of embracing the process of development and becoming the team they hope to be at the end of the season. You may see their disappointment coming before they do.
·        When speaking with team leaders (coaches, club managers, etc.), set the boundaries for your service and the expectations for when, where, and how you will serve the team. Seek to establish this and to maintain a consistency of service without regard to the ups and downs that accompany most seasons of sport.

End of a season –
·        The great part about this part of the season is that we now know what kind of team we have. The process and the results have revealed the nature of our team. Some teams compete like champions and enjoy the rewards of such performance. Others finish well below the .500 line and lick their wounds as the season mercifully ends. Still others find themselves mired in the mediocrity of the middle of the standings. In any case, there is a finality to the end of any season.
·        Be mindful that for some or many, the end of this season is also the end of their careers. At every level of sport, the end of sports seasons bring the end of careers. When you are aware of such, speak clearly and affirm those who exit the sport. A simple thank you card, a well-crafted letter, a chat over coffee, or a visit to your home for dinner are all powerful ways to express your heart and God’s heart to those who finish their sporting careers.
·        Consider those who may be terminated at season’s end. The sports world can be cold and cruel to those who underperform or seem to be a “poor fit.” It is of immense value to those who leave the team that you show faithfulness and loyalty when they are terminated. Pursue them with calls, text messages, tweets, however you can, find a way to express your support, to assure them of your prayers, and to communicate your respect. Most of their colleagues and friends don’t know what to say or how to respond. We need the emotional intelligence and grace to love those who find themselves adrift and seeking new employment.
·        Finally, after the season it is always wise to meet with the team leaders (coaches, club managers, etc.) to evaluate, to review, and to discuss your service of the team. Seek their ideas, adjustments, and vision for the season to come.

Let the natural rhythms of the sporting season work in your favor. Take advantage of their virtues and beware of their vices. Use these seasonal advantages to enable you to love the people of sport in your charge extravagantly and to serve them selflessly.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Process over Results

Just over twelve years ago in Athens, Greece I was chatting with Andrew Wingfield Digby of the United Kingdom about sports chaplaincy and as we wrapped up our conversation, I asked, “Are there any other pointers you would share with sports chaplains?” He looked me in the eye and shook his index finger while saying, “Don’t act like a fan!” I have repeated this advice on five continents since hearing it in 2003.

As I have contemplated Andrew’s statement across the years and have sought to grasp its significance, I have arrived at one value in particular. It is to value process over results in all interactions with people of sport. No matter if it’s a twelve year old baseball player or an eighty-five year old coach, my approach and my conversation is always about process and never about results. Fans only care about results – wins, losses, championships, pay raises, being fired, new contracts, or resignations. To make matters worse, sports media members usually ask the same sorts of results oriented questions, simply broadcasting the same attitude to thousands or millions of listeners, viewers, or readers. The sportspeople are normally either defensive to such conversation or they simply answer in a string of clichés with little to no value or insight.

I prefer to engage sportspeople in terms of process. I ask questions about practice, training, rehab sessions, weight training, player development, personal development of the coaching staff, etc. I ask questions like these: “How pleased are you with this week’s practices? What does your upcoming opponent do well? How do your team match up with them? How are things going for (player’s name)? What about this team pleases you most? Who is leading well on the field/pitch/court/track? How is your team developing?”

I never ask questions like these: “Are you going to win tonight? Are we going all the way this season? Will we be better than last year? Why didn’t you win yesterday? Why are we losing so much? Should I bet on you or against you this weekend? (Obvious, I hope.) Do you think my chapel talk today will lead to a win? Are we going to be champions this season? Who is the best player in your league? Why don’t you win championships anymore? Will we beat __________ (rival team) this year? Is this year’s team as good as the ____ (great team from the past) team?”

Sports fans see everything about sport in the simplest form possible – results. Sportspeople, those engaged in the daily processes of sport, understand their lives are much better understood and experienced in terms of process. We will connect better with them, we will understand them better, we will communicate with their hearts better if we lean into chatting about process and run away from foolish discussion of results.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Communication in Paper and Ink

Over the last twenty years there has been a rapid increase in communication, mostly digital in nature. While this has made it faster, more convenient, and allowed communication across the globe, virtually instantly, it has come at the expense of the immense value of communication on paper. I’d like to have you consider some thoughts as to how written communication, on paper, can be of even greater impact than an email, an SMS text message, a tweet, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat message.

Hand written notes – Much like a text message or tweet in content, the value here is that it feels more personal to the receiver of the note. As poor as your handwriting may be, there is no comparison to the impact of such a note when it conveys your heart, your thoughts, and your prayers for the recipient. What’s more, it will likely be kept, posted on a wall, folded into a book, or used to hold a place in a Bible. Finding proper occasion for such notes is helpful. I use them often to congratulate someone on an accomplishment, at the end of a season or a career to thank a player or coach, in moments of failure or loss to share comfort, assurance, and loyalty to those feeling lonely and cut off.

Game Day letters – I have used this form of communication for twenty years. With many of the teams I serve I am afforded the opportunity to speak with some of the players and coaches, sometimes with 100% of the team and coaching staff. While speaking is of tremendous value, it is incomplete. I also take advantage of the opportunity and provide a game day devotional thought, in letter form, for those attending chapel or for the coaching staff to read aloud pregame. I have been stunned by how many of our players tell me that they save these letters, keep them throughout their careers, refer to them on occasion, post them in their lockers, or even put them in a binder. Many of them find their way to the trash bin, but it’s worth it for the ones whose hearts are touched by the written word.

Books – Now that books are not only available in paper and ink, but also formatted for your electronic tablet, Nook, or even your smart phone, books are more important than ever. I have consumed books in both forms over the last several years, but always prefer paper and ink books. They make it simpler for me to highlight, to make notes, to dog ear pages, and most importantly to share with others. When I find a book that is of particular value, I will share my copy with others, I will buy a copy for the coach or athlete, or I’ll buy a lot of copies to give away at coaches clinics, for use in small group meetings, or other venues. Books are good. Read some. Give some away. Enrich others’ lives.

Prayers – Across my years of service as a sport chaplain, few things have had the impact of writing down what I was praying for a person and then handing that written prayer to the person for whom I was praying. When we tell someone, “I’m praying for you,” it can seem terribly remote and detached from their experience of the moment. When we take the time, the care, the intentionality, to write down exactly what we are praying, it speaks to their hearts in a unique way. It also informs them as to how to pray for themselves. It encourages and strengthens them to trust God and builds relationship with us.

Please send text messages, tweet someone, send a Facebook note or an email, but do not neglect the opportunity to make a uniquely powerful connection with others by communicating on paper. The lasting value of such notes are posted all over the filing cabinet at my office and are kept as treasures in my home.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Update - Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity


Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity, York St John University, UK, 24-28 August 2016

 Just 7 months to go until the Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity, York St John University, UK, 24-28 August 2016, see:  

Encouragingly delegate registrations and abstracts submitted for the delivery of 20-minute oral presentations have come in from academics, practitioners and clergy that are diverse in content, and are, from across the globe: US, UK, China, Canada, India, France, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Slovenia, Poland, Belgium, Thai-Land, China, Australia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Ireland, and a number of African countries.

Three things to make you aware of ……………………

Delegate Registration

The deadline for Congress Registration (which includes payment) has now been set and is on the Congress web-site: 6th June, 2016. No registrations will be accepted after this date.  

Call for Papers

The deadline for the Second Call for Papers is 18th March, 2016 and the maximum number of abstracts is 100. No abstracts will be accepted after this date / number has been reached.

Twitter: @SportTheology

Any queries please do let me know.

Best Wishes Nick

Dr Nick J Watson
Senior Lecturer, Sport, Culture and Religion
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
York St John University
Lord Mayor's Walk
York, Y031 7EX

Telephone: 01904 876833
Convener, Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity, York St John University, UK, 24-28 August 2016, see:

Co-Director, Centre for Sport, Spirituality and Religion, University of Gloucestershire, UK

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Competitor's Book of Prayer

During the summer of 2014, my wife and I were at an airport on the way to New Orleans for some vacation. As we sat at the airport I was thinking about how we encourage competitors, athletes and coaches, to pray about their lives in sport, but we seldom if ever give them any good models for such prayer. I was grieved by the situation and thought someone should do something about it. Since I was the one thinking about it, I determined I would give it a shot. I further thought, Jesus gave his disciples a model, why should we not? While at the airport that day I wrote about sixty situations in a sportsperson’s life when it would be most helpful to know how to pray. That began a process of contemplation, prayer, writing prayers in my phone, testing them with competitors via text message and on this blog, and through discussions with sports ministry colleagues, pastors, and friends.

That process and those 75+ prayers have now been released in book form. The Competitor’s Book of Prayer is now available through Cross Training Publishing at - as well as through and other booksellers. Cross Training Publishing offers discounts for sports ministry staff people and for bulk orders.

The Competitor’s Book of Prayer contains 160 pages of model prayers for a myriad of situations experienced by the people of sport. It also contains a page opposite each prayer for you to journal your use of that prayer. It is my prayer that these simple models provide a way to help the competitors you serve with ways to open their hearts to the Lord Jesus in prayer.

Here are some comments from people who saw draft versions of The Competitor’s Book of Prayer.

Richard Gamble
International Development Director
Sports Chaplaincy UK

“This book revitalises my daily prayer life! It's powerful, helps me refocus back to Jesus, is relevant in my daily spiritual battle, and finally it's contagious to encourage others to pray!”
Jung Ho Jung
Sports Chaplaincy Hong Kong

“In sport, as in life, communication is vital. The coach gives guidance and encouragement to his players. But the players must also grow this relationship through thanking, sharing and asking for help from the coach. While many books have been written for athletes to hear God’s Word (through Bible studies) few have addressed an athlete’s communication to the Divine Coach through prayer. Roger’s brilliant book fills the gap in this field of play. His book offers athletes, coaches and lovers of sport models/templates to praise the Creator of all (including sport), confessions, prayers for the game and training, and prayers for many situations athletes face. Roger does a God honouring job in helping the people of sport bring all of their lives, including sport, before our Heavenly Father.”
Cameron Butler | National Director
Sports Chaplaincy Australia

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he did so by giving them a model prayer.  Roger Lipe has given athletes and coaches a range of model prayers for every athletic situation.  The book should be in every athlete's kit bag.”
Stuart Weir
Verité Sport

“In the heat of the sporting battle, it’s easy to lose sight of who we are - and, just as importantly, who we aren’t. And it’s good to be reminded of both. Drawing on his extensive experience as a sports chaplain, Roger Lipe has produced a book of prayer which provides a plethora of such reminders and in so doing will prove to be a wonderful companion to Christian sportsmen and women the world over for years to come.
Professor Andrew Parker
University of Gloucestershire – United Kingdom

"Straight forward. No frills. Honest.  When it comes to speaking God's truth into the competitive hearts of athletes, no one does it better than Roger Lipe."
Rev. Shane Bishop
Senior Pastor
Christ United Methodist Church – Fairview Heights, IL

The Competitor's Book of Prayer is an amazing resource for people trying to glorify Jesus through athletics. Roger has a unique insight on sport and faith and an incredible ability to coalesce the two.”
Mike McElroy
Defensive Coordinator
Concordia Univesity Football
St. Paul, Minnesota (USA)

“Roger Lipe, along with his wife, Sharon, are integral members of our football family’s leadership team.  Through their on-going commitment to our program, they provide nurturance and guidance to players and coaches well beyond the season.  Roger’s game day Chapel services and daily prayers remind us to model strength and perseverance, use our talents and abilities in glory to God, and remain grateful in all circumstances.”
Dale Lennon
Former Head Football Coach

Southern Illinois University (USA)

Friday, January 1, 2016

FCA Chaplains / Campus Directors Conference 2016

Registration is now open for FCA’s annual conference for Sports Chaplains, Character Coaches, and University Campus DirectorsApril 11-13, 2016 at FCA’s National Service Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

This conference is a good fit if you are a volunteer serving sports teams at any level, if you are a sports ministry staff person with chaplaincy responsibilities, or even if your role is 100% with a team or a university campus. Sports chaplains from any and all stations of service are welcome and will find their ministries enhanced.

This conference is always very well done with inspiring plenary sessions, informative breakout sessions for those serving in various settings, and lots of time built into the schedule for networking and sharing of best practices between individuals. Simply control + click the underscored links below to go directly to the registration pages.

All the conference information can be found at More information re: breakout sessions and other details will be available soon.

Conference Information


Option 1: $249.00 - Covers lodging, meals and conference expenses
Option 2: $125.00 - Covers meals and conference expenses

Travel Information:

Flights should arrive no later than 3:00pm on April 11, 2016, and depart no earlier than 1:00pm April 13, 2016. Please book your flight to arrive at the Kansas City International Airport (MCI).  Transportation will be provided to and from the airport to the conference.

Cancellation Fee:

Cancellations after April 4, 2016, will result in a $50 cancellation fee per person.

Deadline to Register:

April 4, 2016 (After April 4, there is no guarantee on available space).

Questions? Contact Molly Collins at (816) 892-1161 or

 FCA Staff Registration

If you are a FCA staff person
and would like to register and pay with your ORG#
please use this form
If you'd like to pay with your personal credit card
please use this form

Non-FCA Staff Registration 

 If you are not an FCA staff person
and you'd like to register with a credit card
please use this form

2016 Conference Speakers

Dave Gittings, Jr.

 As a 12 year veteran of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Dave's passion is to bring the gospel message of Jesus Christ to coaches, athletes, and all whom they influence. Ordained and called by God as a Pastor, Dave has been serving in ministry since 1998. He has served as Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Senior Pastor of Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church of Saint Simons Island Georgia. He has also served as Area Director, Multi Area Director, and Chaplain with Golden Isles FCA. In August of 2013, Dave accepted the call to serve as the Virginia Tech Football Team Chaplain, and FCA Campus Sports Ministry Director.

Dave is a powerful speaker who has touched the lives of thousands of student athletes and coaches around the country.  He is uniquely gifted in delivering messages that are relevant to a diverse group of people from various age groups and cultures. His evangelistic style of speaking has made a difference in his community, and around the world.  He has been a featured speaker at many school assemblies, community events, parent meetings, athletic events, camps, mission trips, and churches. He has been asked to give pregame chapel for many collegiate and professional athletic teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Dave is a Native of Pittsburgh PA, a graduate of Schenley High School, and Veteran of the US Navy. He has completed courses from the CharlesStanley Institute, FCA Institute of Sports Ministry, and Ashland Theological Seminary and currently serves on the FCA National Chaplains Advisory Team. Dave is supported by his loving wife Kim, and his children Aaron, Everett, Niesha and Briana.

Dan Bishop

 Dan Bishop serves as FCA's National Director of Training.  He has been on staff for over eight years, and in his current role for two years.  He served in various roles in the field ministry for FCA, including Multi-Area Director, State Director, and Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. 

In those years he also served as a Chaplain at George Mason University and at the University of Cincinnati.  Before joining FCA, he served in various pastoral roles for 27 years.  Dan has a Master's Degree in Ministry Leadership and a Master's Degree in Pastoral Studies. 

He played varsity basketball in high school and in college.  He still enjoys a good pickup game of hoops.  Dan and his wife Nancy reside in Lee's Summit, Missouri.  He has three grown children and four grandchildren.
 Roger Lipe

Roger Lipe is the Midwest Region International Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The Midwest Region includes the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. In addition to this role, he is the Campus Director for Saluki FCA at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He also serves the Midwest Region in developing sports chaplaincy ministries.

Roger has served as chaplain to several of the athletic teams at Southern Illinois University since 1994. He has also served as chaplain to the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League since 2012. 

Lipe previously served as the Field Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the 26 southernmost counties of Illinois for twenty-one years. 

Roger is the author of seven books of devotions for athletes and coaches. The latest of these is titled, Heart of a Champion – Devotions for the People of Sport. He is also the author of Transforming Lives in Sport – A Guide for Sport Chaplains and Sport Mentors. Both of those titles have been translated into Spanish under the titles, Corazon de un Campeonand Transformando Las Vidas en Deportes. 

Free to Compete – Reflections on Sport from a Christian Perspective was published in 2013. It is a compilation of the weekly reflections he has emailed to hundreds of sport chaplains and character coaches around the globe since 2007. 

The Competitor's Book of Prayer is Lipe's most recent publishing project, released in December of 2015. It is a book full of model prayers for a myriad of situations in one's life in sport. All of these books are available through Cross Training Publishing.

Roger has worked with several colleagues from around the world to develop This global network has enabled him to make dozens of international trips to facilitate ministry in sport since November of 2000.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity

Please consider making plans to attend the Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity, 24-28 August, 2016.

In light of the dramatic increase in academic research activity and practical initiatives on the topic of sports and Christianity over the last decade, the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at York St John University, in collaboration with the Bible Society, will host this event.


The aims of the IGCSC are to:

· Encourage global collaboration between academics, practitioners, politicians, clergy, administrators and athletes

· Produce quality academic and practitioner publications that have societal impact

· Through intentional mentoring and collaboration, develop individuals in their sphere of influence

· Affect a ‘culture shift’ in modern sport through the sharing of ideas and practices and a ‘coming together’ of individuals from across the academic disciplines and all streams and denominations of Christianity, culminating in an inclusive and ecumenical event.


The IGCSC will be held over four-and-a-half-days and will comprise: a gala dinner, keynote lectures, parallel sessions, a panel led by the Bible Society, a three-hour seminar for each of the fourteen ‘thematic strands’, a ‘student forum’, and a networking event, in which representatives from practitioner organisations, research centres and publishers will be able to share information. A sport-themed service will also be held in York Minster, one of Europe's finest Cathedrals, this event will include an interview with ex-premier footballer, Linvoy Primus MBE and ex-paralympian, Anne-Waflua Strike MBE.

To ensure the continued development and long-term sustainability of the field, an international organising committee has been established to devise and operationalize a long-term strategic plan to ensure similar events take place every three years (in appropriate institutions around the world). The importance and timeliness of the IGCSC, 2016, has been ‘endorsed’ by a wide variety of individuals.


York St John University campus is at the heart of the beautiful and historic city of York, England. Find out more about York St John University and the city of York here.

Thematic Strands

The IGCSC will comprise fourteen ‘thematic strands’, which collectively address existing and emerging topics in the broad area of sport and Christianity. During the congress there will be a three-hour interactive seminar on each thematic strand which will be facilitated by a small group of academics and / or practitioners who are recognised for excellence in their respective fields (click on thematic strand titles below for biographies of Strand Chairperson and Co-Leaders).

A number of academic and practitioner publications will emerge from these thematic strands, as detailed below.

Abstracts submitted for consideration for oral presentations (parallel sessions) to be scheduled through the four days of the congress, can focus on the thematic strands, or may address any topic within the broad field of sports and Christianity.

The thematic strands are as follows:

· Sports Chaplaincy

· Sports, Peace and Religion (with a focus, but not exclusively, on the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games)

· Theology of Disability Sport

· Sports, Bioethics, Performance Enhancements, and Biotechnology: Theological Reflections

· Fathering and Mentoring through Sports and Physical Education

· Women, Sports and Christianity

· Sports Ministry

· Historical Perspectives on Sports and Christianity

· Catholicism and Sports

· Ethical and Social Issues in Sports: Christian Reflections

· Global Perspectives in Sports and Christianity

· Christian Sociological Perspectives on Sport

· Sport, Christianity, Health and Well-Being/Wellness

· Sport, Psychology and Christianity

Please join me at this landmark event in the development of sports chaplaincy among both practitioners and academicians.