Friday, August 7, 2020

What is the Value of Sport?

One of the misunderstood elements of ministry in sport is the value, or lack of it, sport has in and of itself. Many of us in sports ministry believe sport has value only as it is used as a tool for ministry. Others of us, myself included, see value in sport in its own right. I would assert that sport has intrinsic value, as does any other created thing. Its value is either enhanced or diminished by those who use it.

A long-time friend and colleague of mine, Rev. Shane L. Bishop (@RevShaneBishop), recently posted a note in social media about the value of sport in his life.
“I am quite sure I would not be who I am today had I not played sports my Senior year of high school.

It seems dripping with hyperbole even to write it, but I believe it to be true.

In football, I learned that when I don’t work hard, I let the team down. It was a lesson I learned too late to help my mediocre football career or to add much value to my good football team, but a lesson that impacted my adult life. Any team I am on is better if I work hard to contribute and when I don’t work hard, I let the team down; not just myself. 

Running high hurdles in the spring was the first thing to which I truly dedicated myself and I had a great deal of success. This success gave me confidence that if I do the right things, the right way; I can expect the right results in the right time. It put an idea in my head that I could be really good at something and that was worth working toward. 

That epiphany changed everything.

As many Seniors look at the possibility of a year without sports, I am truly sad for them.

Much of my “real” education came on a grass and dirt football field and on an oval cinder track; for better or for worse.”

Reverend Shane is fond of saying his seminary education prepared him very well for a world that no longer exists. It seems the lessons he learned from playing high school football and running hurdles have an enduring quality that continues to serve him into his fifties. Shane’s note resonated with me and many others as we also recognize all that we have learned from our experiences in sport, things we could never have learned in a book, a classroom, or a video.

Let’s lean into the value of all we experience in sport, some of it will be painful, other times it will be full of joy and fulfillment. Let’s look for the Lord Jesus to lead us through all of it in the process of growth and development of our lives in Him.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The Pernicious Folly of Comparison

In past years I have written about the folly of making comparisons, especially related to our Christian ministries in sport. Some of us don’t deal with the temptation to compare while others of us, certainly I, are constantly driven by our competitive natures to think this way. Oftentimes we do it without conscious thought.

I’d like to share some scriptures that also warn about this tendency to foolishly make comparisons. This is not peculiar to our time. We can see the apostles dealing with it.
For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12
The apostle Paul is aware of those among his peers who make some foolish comparisons. He refuses to play their game. He will not claim a title, a rank, or allow comparison of himself with these others. Further, he says that when the comparisons are made, the ones so doing are without understanding. Let’s not be among them.

Some of us have teammates we envy for various reasons. We may be envious of their talents, abilities, their positions, their relationships, or any number of things. Some of us can become envious of the calling another has received from our Lord, its importance or profile, as compared to our more humble callings. Jesus’ disciple Peter felt this way toward John.
Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:20-22
Jesus does this so well by asking Peter, “…what is that to you? You follow me” As I have found myself wondering about the nature of my calling and area of service vs. the higher profile nature of my colleague’s service, I have occasionally heard a voice in my ear saying, “What is that to you? You follow Me.” This gentle rebuke never fails to restore my perspective and to prompt repentance and confession.

Another form of comparison that ensnares some of us it comparisons of our friends, our networks, or other second-hand associations. This happens when people in organizations compare how they came to that group.  It’s almost like a set of coaches comparing the “coaching tree” from which they have come. Somehow we think we have greater organizational status depending upon the people with whom we are associated. The apostles also deal with this behavior.
So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
The apostle clarifies the issue of belonging for all concerned. Ultimately we are God’s. His alone. Our lesser associations are of little consequence. Let’s stop appealing to them for status.

If we are wise, we will properly grasp the scope of our service, thank God for it, appreciate its value, and boast only in God’s grace given to fulfill it. To commend ourselves for something that is God’s work seems rather foolish.
But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:13, 17-18
The apostle knows it is God’s grace, love, and power that has enabled him to reach, even as far as Corinth. He knows that the only warranted boasting is reserved for The Lord Himself. He will not commend himself, nor will he acknowledge those who commend themselves. He will trust the Lord for His commendation. As should we all.

Please, friends and colleagues, beware the pernicious folly of comparison. It will diminish your relationships and sully your spirit. Be 100% who the Lord made you to be and find the joy that comes with that fulfillment of purpose.

Friday, July 24, 2020

New book - Front Lines - Becoming an Effective Sports Chaplain or Character Coach

New book release:

Cross Training Publishing of Omaha, Nebraska has published a new title by Roger D. Lipe of Carbondale, Illinois. Front Lines – Becoming an Effective Sports Chaplain or Character Coach is 304 pages of practical training and best practices for people who serve the sporting community. The book is available in paperback through as well as and other booksellers in the USA. A list of sources for the book in the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand is at the bottom.

Like many people serving in sports chaplaincy or character coaching, Roger Lipe began with no formal training, too little information, and no reference guide. Front Lines is designed to provide much of the simple, direct, and applicable information needed to guide a sports chaplain or character coach through the process of developing ministry in sport.

Roger Lipe has served with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in southern Illinois since 1994. He was born and raised in Carbondale, Illinois (USA) and currently resides there with his wife, Sharon. Their son, Jason, his wife Jenn, and granddaughters Addison and Elise are treasures to his soul.

Roger serves as chaplain or character coach to teams, coaches, and individual competitors at Southern Illinois University, and to the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier Professional Baseball League.

Roger is the author of fourteen books for ministry in sport. His global network of friends and colleagues has enabled him to make dozens of international trips to over twenty nations on five continents to facilitate the growth of sports chaplaincy.

For more information, please contact Roger Lipe at or 618.559.2735.

What People are Saying about Front Lines –
“One of the weaknesses of the Christian sports network is a reluctance to document. Roger Lipe is an exception.  This book addresses the practical challenges which the active sports chaplain faces and suggests ways to approach them combining Biblical wisdom and practical experience. Written in a humble manner it provides a blueprint for servant-hearted sports chaplaincy.”
            J Stuart Weir, Executive Director, Verité Sport, UK

“If you are one either on the front lines of sports chaplaincy, or in the midst of considering a call to join, Roger Lipe’s 20+ years of ministry experience and distilled here in these pages, Front Lines, will help ready you and mature you for the work ahead that God has for you."
Rev Brad Kenney, Founder/Director, Soccer Chaplains United, Lead Volunteer Chaplain, Colorado Rapids, USA

“Drawing upon years of faithful service and practice wisdom, this book comprises a candid and highly informative resource which chaplains and mentors across any number of sports will find invaluable.”
Dr. Andrew Parker, Director at Andrew Parker Consulting Ltd. UK

"This book is arguably the most practical and insightful offering on Sport Chaplaincy on the market. Due to Roger's long involvement at the coal-face of Sport Chaplaincy and his willingness and openness to engage academically with the topic, the sections of this book are filled with clear and helpful advice on how to become, and to be, a an effective minister for Christ in the domain of sport".
Dr Nick J. Watson, Chief Operating Officer, Archbishop of York Youth Trust and former Associate Professor, Sport and Social Justice, York St. John University, UK

“Sport chaplains enter a world of relative fame, competing agendas, and raw emotion. The role requires near constant self-reflection and discernment for understanding the sport culture and serving the people involved.   
In Front Lines, Roger Lipe shares his practiced wisdom from decades of sport chaplaincy in accessible, bite-sized sections - each equally profound and practical. From start to finish, this book unpacks the how questions of sport chaplaincy while always remaining tethered to the important question of why, offering an invaluable and authentic resource for people in sports ministry and beyond.”
Dr. Brian Bolt, Professor, Dean of Education, Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

For my colleagues looking for Front Lines - these are the distributors that should carry it in the UK and Europe: •Adlibris •Agapea • •Aphrohead •Bertrams •Blackwell •Book Depository Ltd •Books Express •Coutts Information Services Ltd •Designarta Books •Eden Interactive Ltd •Foyles •Gardners •Trust Media Distribution (formerly STL)

In Australia & New Zealand: •Amazon AU •Booktopia •Fishpond •The Nile •James Bennett •ALS •Peter Pal

Friday, July 10, 2020

“Sports Chaplaincy: New Research in an Emerging Field.”

On Wednesday of this week our friend and colleague, Will Whitmore from Pennsylvania (USA) delivered a tremendous presentation in a webinar for the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab titled, “Sports Chaplaincy: New Research in an Emerging Field.” 

Researcher, chaplain, and educator Will Whitmore joined the Lab to discuss his work on sports chaplaincy and the future of the field. Will Whitmore is School Minister at Mercersburg Academy and PhD Candidate at the University of Gloucestershire.

The recording of the webinar is posted here. Please take some time to view it.

The recording is also posted here with many other Zoom meetings related to Sports Chaplaincy and Character Coaching.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Sports Chaplaincy Links and Twitter Handles

Things in the global sports chaplaincy community are growing rapidly and I’d like to share some info with you to keep you informed as things develop. Below is a list of websites, blogs, Twitter handles, and more. It is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s pretty good. Check some out, bookmark those you like, follow those that intrigue you, and contact them if you have interest in learning more. Thanks. Roll on.

Global Sports Chaplaincy Association -

This site is being retooled as an orientation to sports chaplaincy -

Videos from Sports Chaplaincy agencies around the world -

Cede Sports global sports chaplain registry -

Cede Sports Chaplaincy Resources Hub -

Tremendous resources through Verité Sport -

Info re: sports chaplaincy at major sporting events -

Brief videos for Sports Chaplains and Character Coaches -

Recordings of Zoom meetings featuring Sports Chaplains and Character Coaches -

My weekly blog (archives of these emails) -

Dozens of chapel talk outlines and sport oriented Bible studies -

Models of Prayer for Sports People -

Heart of a Champion - a daily sports devotional -

The same devotions in Spanish – Corazon de un Campeon -  

Some folks to consider following on Twitter:
@CedeNetwork - Cede Sports
@SoccerChaplains – Soccer Chaplains United (USA)
@SCZA_Chaplaincy – Sports Chaplaincy South Africa
@sportschaplain – Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom
@cs_int – Christian Surfers International
@SCA_Sports – Sports Chaplaincy Australia
@stuartweir – Stuart Weir of Verité Sport

Friday, June 26, 2020

Third Global Congress on Sport and Christianity

Ridley Hall, Cambridge, UK is delighted to announce that it will host the Third Global Congress on Sport and Christianity (3GCSC) in 2022 (see:   The Congress will take place on the Ridley Hall campus and will be directed by Professor Andrew Parker. Further details to be released in due course.

Friday, June 19, 2020

A TULIP in Sports Chaplaincy

Over the years as my life in Christ has developed, I have become more and more inclined to see evangelism, the process of a person coming to have a relationship with Christ Jesus, as more about God’s drawing the person than my skill in sharing the Gospel. That may seem quite elementary to you, but to one who grew up during the Jesus movement of the early 70s, we were all pretty sure the Lord would make His second coming, rapture of the Church included, by next Tuesday noon if we would just get busy evangelizing the entire earth.

The longer I have lived, and the longer the Lord has tarried from His return, the more I have swerved into the more reformed or Calvinist approach to evangelism. Nothing was more instrumental in that shift in thinking than was J. I. Packer’s book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Publisher: IVP Books; Americanized edition - Language: English - ISBN-10: 083083799X). In particular, Packer’s quote of Charles H. Spurgeon’s approach to evangelism has made a permanent stamp on my heart. My memory of that quote is this, “If I thought the Lord painted big, blue ‘E’s on the elect, I would walk around pulling up men’s shirts and preaching to the ones with the blue ‘E’s on their chests. He did not do that so I preach to everyone and their response tells me who the elect are.” Properly quoted or not, that statement has shaped the way I approach ministry in sport and in all of life ever since reading it in the mid-1980s.

Many of my young colleagues and church brethren speak of their reformed view as though it was an advanced academic degree and boast its superiority to a more Arminian approach. I regularly push back with them by asking, “How exactly does your reformed view impact the way you share the Gospel with others? I know what my Arminian friends do, they share Christ boldly and frequently. How do you do it?” Sadly, many times they have no answer as they emphasize the ‘I’ portion of the TULIP acrostic for reformed theology above all others. They reason, “If grace is irresistible, why bother? If the Lord will draw them irresistibly, what part in the process could I possibly have?”

By now you have probably chosen sides in this debate or have determined that I am representing your point of view very poorly. Hang on. There’s more.

Here are the five points of Calvinism as outlined in the Tulip acrostic:

T)otal depravity

U)nconditional election 

L)imited atonement 

I)rresistible grace 

P)erseverance of the saints 

I will neither attempt to define nor to prove these ideas, but they portray in a simple way the big idea. My question to you, and to all my Calvinist friends is, “What will you do in light of these truths? If these tenets are true, what action is required of you? If people are all completely depraved; if the Lord has chosen some to believe in Him without condition; if He has chosen to limit atonement to just the elect; if His grace is irresistible; and if the saints will persevere; what are we to do?”

My Calvinist teammates, brothers and sisters, I would suggest you: 

T)rust – the Lord Jesus to draw men and women to Himself from among the totally depraved (he chose you).

U)nderstand – the people to whom you have been called, and look for the big, blue ‘E’s on their hearts. 

L)isten – to the Spirit as He leads you to the elect. 

I)ntuit – the subtle nuances of how the Lord reveals His chosen to you. 

P)ray – and ask God to lead you to those with whom you may share the Gospel. 

“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” John 3:7-8

If the first TULIP is true, the second TULIP can assist you in standing with others in the Wind of God, feeling His effects as He draws people to Christ as He did Nicodemus in John 3. He is drawing them. Let’s join Him in the process.

What is the Value of Sport?