Friday, April 27, 2007

Presence: a Key to Effective Ministry

If you’re not present, you don’t have a chance for ministry. Establishing a presence with the team or individual competitors sets the tone for all the ministry opportunities that could follow. Your regular presence with the players will create an identity for you among the coaches and the competitors. The following points are meant to help you establish a presence with them in the most important places. Once you’ve established your identity through presence, you can have influence with them without even being there.

Your presence at practice is worth more than your presence at competitions. Dozens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of people attend the competitions, to scream, second-guess and support the team. Who comes to watch practice? Only those most highly committed to the team are at practice. If you are there, your presence communicates commitment. The coaches and players are at practice every day and they know exactly who’s there. They also take note of it. There is nothing that builds loyalty and establishes your relationship with the coaches, players and the team as a unit like simply attending practice.

One afternoon while watching a Women’s basketball practice, an assistant coach approached me at courtside. She said, "Coach has something that she’d like to have you pray about." I was thrilled to see anything spiritual come from the head coach, so I asked her to tell me more. "She thinks she cusses too much and wants to stop," was the request. I assured her that I would pray for her about that and I did so. That day was a real turning point in my relationship with that coach and the whole team. That relationship continues to be strong to this day, three head coaches later. The opportunity came to me because I was there at practice.

You don’t have to do anything, but be there. It’s a perfect time to become familiar with those on the team, the coaching staff, the support personnel and more. It need not take lots of time. Most times, my visits to practices are brief and when I’m on the way to somewhere else or at the end of a workday on the way home. To simply observe practice and to pray for those you see is a dynamic ministry that will produce fruit with perseverance.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New website:

wired4sport promotes the value of, integrity in and love of sport. My earliest memories of competition took place almost daily at the neighborhood playground.

I remember delightedly hanging in mid-air, reaching and grabbing, reaching and grabbing, metal bar after bar, my legs wildly swinging, going from one end of the monkey bars to the other. The official scorekeeper, my dad, would count out loud how many bars I conquered. When my arms gave out, I would rest and have him start the count all over again.

The set a new world record by going one bar further than the last time. As a young child, my competitive drive and spirit was alive and well. There is no doubt in my mind that I am wired4sport. My need to run, jump, shoot, hit, slide, throw, go one further, have the most points at the end, run one second faster was there from the beginning. I've had a love affair with sport ever since I can remember.

wired4sport promotes the value of, integrity in and love of sport. The writers for wired4sport are all folks who acknowledge and value that we are designed to play and compete. Being wired4sport is a vital part of who we are. All of us played sport as children and sport continues to be an important part of our lives.

It's been many years since I competed in the Monkey Bar World Championship but I remember the value of counting each bar correctly. When the hands would slip and the world champ fell off, the count had to start back to zero. As a child, the integrity of counting correctly demonstrated my true love and respect for the monkey bar competition. is a community of people who love and respect sport so much we can't help but count correctly, play fairly, and honor the spirit of competition. The valuable lessons and benefits we gained from sport compel us to tell our stories. We hope our personal narratives will resonate with your experiences and persuade you to share your stories, too. Feel free to visit often and contribute your memorable moments and perspectives in sport!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Focus on matters of the heart, not on the flesh.

People of sport are unique in society because their best days and their worst days are out in the public for everyone to see. Their flesh, its best parts and its worst parts, are the easiest parts of them to see. How often have you watched an important contest on television and just as an official makes a call that goes against the coach, the camera zooms right in on his face and all the lip-readers in the nation know he wasn’t blessing the official. His flesh is now on display for a national or even international television audience.

If I took offense to every curse word and profanity that I’ve heard in my years on the field of competition, I’d be forever upset. As it is, I’ve had to learn to see past such behavior and to pursue the hearts of our coaches and athletes without respect to their failings. Having a sober view of my own personal weaknesses has also tempered my reactions to others’ bent to outbursts of anger or other foolish actions.

It requires more insight and more faith to see their hearts and to know them below the surface. Everyone has their personal weaknesses, their particular flaws of character, but we must be careful to not have these become the defining characteristics of those with whom we do ministry. We must look beyond that flaw and see the heart that the Lord so deeply loves.

Friday, April 6, 2007


While attending the Illinois Football Coaches Clinic in Champaign last Thursday through Saturday, I observed some things about the coaches.
1) They love what they do. It’s almost an obsession with many of them.
2) Some of them seem very comfortable in their football environment, but much less so elsewhere.
3) Many of them are more controlled by peer pressure than the most insecure 13 year old kid.
4) When we talk with them about how their lives in Christ can shape their coaching, it’s sometimes seen as an intrusion (would rather not integrate those two) and other times they’re like little kids on Christmas morning unwrapping a huge gift.
5) When we talked about leadership development from Jesus’ model, it was energizing and fun for them. (Even with a 9:45 pm start…)
6) They will invest tons of time and energy to improve their knowledge, insight, skills and network for their teams’ benefit.

All these make me more committed to serving them well because when they are committed to Christ, they bring those same qualities to their lives of faith and service.