Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interesting article

Below is an excerpt from an article which recently ran in the London Times. It is an interview with recently retired Triple Jumper – Jonathan Edwards. Edwards’ life changed in 1995, when he set three world and seven British records, achieving the unprecedented feat of two world records in his first two jumps of the final of the World Championships in Gothenburg. His 18.29 metres that day remains the world record. His wind-assisted 18.43, to win the European Cup in Lille, is the longest triple jump on record.

“I never doubted my belief in God for a single moment until I retired from sport,” he says. “Faith was the reason that I decided to become a professional athlete, in the same way that it was fundamental to every decision I made. It was the foundation of my existence, the thing that made everything else make sense. It was not a sacrifice to refuse to compete on Sundays during my early career because that would imply that athletics was important in and of itself. It was not. It was always a means to an end: glorifying God.
“But when I retired, something happened that took me by complete surprise. I quickly realised that athletics was more important to my identity than I believed possible. I was the best in the world at what I did and suddenly that was not true any more. With one facet of my identity stripped away, I began to question the others and, from there, there was no stopping. The foundations of my world were slowly crumbling.”

This is a cautionary note for those of us who are engaged with people of sport. They may be saying all the right things in public, while internally they are dealing with crippling doubts and confusion. The difference between Edwards and thousands of others may simply be that he has expressed his doubts openly and now in the press.

Edwards may have been treating the Lord and Christian faith like a superstitious rabbit’s foot all along. Let’s lead wisely as we shape the faith of those whom we serve.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Coaches and Sport Mentors

Basis for Relationship
· Developing Complete Players
· Help the coaches to coach the hearts of their players
· That’s better than the coaching of hearts being relegated to the mentor only

Profile of the Sport Mentor
· Sport background and/or experience
· Player mentality is best
· Respect for the sport and a growing knowledge of it
· A desire to serve the coaching staff and their players
· One who is trustworthy and with no selfish agenda

Relationship with Head Coach = key
· Understand and reflect the coach’s values in the sport
· Speak in terms of the coach’s points of emphasis for the sport / players
· Communicate with the head coach about values, heart and intangible elements of sport

The Sport Mentoring Process
· Hear the head coach’s heart
· Observe practice sessions and competitions
· Discuss observations and possible activities with the head coach
· Execute activities and evaluate with the head coach
· Refine and continue

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Major Event Sports Chaplaincy

This information is taken from the International Sport Coalition’s Serving the People of Sport Council. They serve the international sport community by training, qualifying and choosing chaplains to serve at major sporting events. You may see their web site at:

Historically, some major sports events have sought to provide for the spiritual and pastoral needs of those involved. Thus, the Olympic Charter seeks provision for spiritual support of the competitors. Other major sports event organizers have also sought to incorporate “chaplaincy” into their support structures.

Over the years some brilliant ministry has taken place at Olympics and other large sports events. We thank God for it. Equally history will record many failures and embarrassments. These include:

· chaplains with no ongoing relationships with sportspeople seeking appointment for personal kudos;
· chaplains wishing only to evangelise competitors in the village;
· chaplains who see their mission as distributing as many Christian products (Bibles, tracts, DVDs etc) as possible;
· chaplains whose explicit purpose is to persuade Christian sportspeople to make themselves available for testimony-type interviews during the event.

We wish to propose the application of a sports-mentoring approach to sports events. Sports people need to be served 52 weeks a year, not 2. Thus the person best-equipped to serve sportspeople during a sports event, is the sports mentor who has served them during the previous 50 weeks.

Chaplaincy to a sports event has sometimes been seen as a 2 week in the year (or 2 weeks every 4 years) experience. We passionately believe that the effective sports mentor is the one who has seen the competitor, at training, at minor and local competitions and built up a relationship. The chaplain who turns up at a major event with no ingoing relationships is unlikely to develop them at that event.

Sports mentors who serve the People of Sport during sports events have a tremendous opportunity to deeply impact their lives. For many that sport event may be the culmination of a long period of training and its results may significantly shape the rest of that person’s life. The mentor can effectively serve if they understand the situation and can apply the grace of God to the life of the sportsperson and to those who surround them.

The approach that we are outlining works at the level of the Olympic Games. However Olympic chaplaincy is beyond the expectancy of most of us. What we are proposing works just as well, if not better, at any sports event. At a regional youth sports event, for example, access, needs and opportunity may be much greater than at a more “high profile” event.


In a formal, major event there is a need to adhere faithfully to the constraints of the organizing committee on religious activities during the event and to understand that failing to do so could exclude one from the very ministry they have so eagerly sought. With a major event, these instructions will be in written form. At other events, they will be much more informal and will require greater personal judgement.

Chaplains provide support when the occasional crisis comes to a competitor, volunteer worker or organizer. For example, in the past chaplains have provided support when a parent has died suddenly, when a major accident occurred during competition, when the emotional strain of homesickness became too great, or when a neutral sounding board was needed. In one sense, the service is peripheral to the competition, but to those in need, and for those who avail themselves of it, it is a vitally important provision.

A chaplaincy team also displays a caring, concerned, organizational ethic to a sports event. If it is a help to a number of those involved – competitors, officials, volunteers, and organizers – then it proves itself to be worthy of being part of the support structure for the games.

Here are six practical questions chaplains could ask themselves before an event

1) Who are the particular teams, persons, groups I should seek to serve during this event?
2) When and where are they most available?
3) What are the particular needs they have that I could faithfully serve?
4) What are the resources at hand to further such service?
5) With whom should I network to best serve those I have identified?
6) What sorts of methods will be best received by them and allowed by the host agency?

Choosing suitable chaplains

Advice should be sought from a wide range of individuals and agencies before choosing the chaplaincy team.


The following characteristics, which should be sought in any potential chaplain, as set out in the previous session are equally relevant for event chaplains:

· They must be knowledgeable about sport and the needs of competitors at the event’s level.
· They must be willing and able to work together with a sportsperson's personal and team coaches, family members, and personal spiritual advisors in order to enhance his or her spiritual stability.
· They must be willing and able to develop ministry all aspects of the world of sport – players, coaches, administrators etc.
· They must have a love for people and be willing to serve them in any way possible.
· They must be trained in Biblical matters and able to communicate spiritual insights, with application to sport.
· Finally but most importantly, they must have an ongoing relationship with people competing in the event.

The following additional characteristics apply specifically to major event chaplains:

· The person shouId currently be involved in ministry to elite level sports people.
· The person should be endorsed by their denomination and any local church or organization to which they are accountable.
· The person should have had previous sports event chaplaincy experience.
· For an international event, the person speaks significant languages.
· The person has a capacity for self-funding their involvement and to offer their services on a volunteer basis.
· The person will function as a team player and to fulfil their rota commitments with diligence and integrity.

The following criteria were used to select chaplains for the 2006 Winter Olympics

former sportsperson/ different sports to cover (summer/ winter)
important languages, different countries (3 Points per language)
Experience as Chaplain at MSE, or high profile level event
ongoing ministry in serving the people of sport/ follow up
contacts in the event/ insider
gifting: mentoring
church background, different denominations, ordained pastor
gender (female ratio of the Chaplain team)

Total Score

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has launched a new web site for sport chaplains. It has some very basic training information and a page of resources which are at this link.

Please take a look at the site and you are welcome to any and all of the resources listed there.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Your presence after losses is worth more than it is after victories.

The world is full of bandwagon jumpers. It seems that when a team is winning, people who haven’t seen a single competition in years are suddenly super fans. They seem to appear from nowhere. The coaches and players quietly say to each other, “Where were they when we were losing every week?” The latecomers, no matter how loudly they cheer or how much money they spent on their team logo gear, do not impress them.

The whole team will remember you and will respect you if you’re the one who hangs around to encourage and to console after bitter defeats and not just after exhilarating victories. Your credibility will be built on your knees while you sob with them after a painful loss. Then you’ll know real joy and excitement when you share the fun that comes with winning.