Friday, February 29, 2008

Guidelines for interaction with coaches and competitors

As one builds his/her relationship with coaches and those competing in sport, one can engage them wisely, which will further develop the relationship or one can speak foolishly with them, which will create distrust and inhibit your service with them.

Be a student of the sport. Learn all you can about it by reading, observation and asking good questions. Be careful not to offer opinions which are beyond your level of expertise. For most sport chaplains and mentors, this is a volunteer position; for our coaches and the competitors, it’s their career. We seem like fools if we presume to understand the intricacies of the sport as well as they do. You may, however, have insight into relational issues and matters of the heart which could escape the coaching staff’s notice.

Observe practice sessions and competitions, ask good questions and only offer opinions when asked for them. Below are a number of questions which reflect the attitude which coaches respect and which enable you to learn more about the sport and those in your charge.

At practice – ask these sorts of questions when the conversation would not interrupt, nor be a distraction.
· Coach, I’ve been watching player #___, tell me about him/her.
· How healthy is your team this week?
· Who is leading well for you?
· Which of your players are the hardest with which to connect?
· Which parts of practice are most productive for you?
· How do you discern the motivational keys to your players’ hearts?
· How would you describe your team’s level of unity?
· How good is the team chemistry with this group?
· For what can I pray for you and your team this week?

Prior to a competition – ask these kinds of questions during a warm up session or away from the field, mat, pitch or court.
· How well do you match up against this team?
· How confident is your team coming into this competition?
· Which players have the toughest matchups today?
· How can I pray for you regarding this competition?

After competitions – ask fewer and more direct questions after games, especially if they lost. Many times the right thing to say is nothing, but to communicate love and commitment by simply being present.
· With whose play today were you most pleased?
· Whose leadership was strong in this competition?
· What did your team do best today?
· What did the team do most poorly?
· Who led well in today’s game?
· I noticed (insert observation), how important was that to the outcome?
· I have been and will continue to pray for you, your staff and the team.

Ask wise questions and thereby invite them to share their hearts with you.

Friday, February 22, 2008


There are 5 - “I” words that communicate progressively deeper levels of communication with people.

1) Inform – give people information about your ministry, events, programs, opportunities, etc…
2) Inspire – share stories and cast vision that will inspire them regarding your ministry.
3) Involve – involve people in the activities of your ministry as volunteers or even as observers.
4) Impact – watch for the impact that such activity will have in their lives and in the lives of those whom they observe in your ministry.
5) Invest – as you make investments in them, they will in turn be most generous in investing themselves in your ministry.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beijing Olympic Games Chaplaincy

Below is an email I received from Stuart Weir of Verité Sport in Great Britain re: chaplaincy at the Beijing Olympic Games.

I am sorry that it has taken us so long to report back to you on your application to be considered as a chaplain at the Beijing Olympics. As you will see there are good reasons for the delay. Normally at the Olympics, the local organizing committee accredits a team of local and international Christian chaplains to cover a range of languages and the spectrum of Christian belief.

At this stage the Beijing Organising Committee is saying that it will only accredit Chinese chaplains. No non-Chinese chaplains. This will apply both to the Olympics and the Paralympics.

On behalf of the international sports ministry network, we are continuing to press the committee to change its mind and accredit international chaplains. We are arguing from the needs of the Olympians and the experience and expertise that international chaplains can bring. We hope and pray that we can convince them to change their mind.

If the Chinese authorities do not change their position, no foreign chaplains will be accredited. At this stage we feel we have to assume that will be the position and plan for it. In the first instance we would advise you to approach your national Olympic Committee and explain that you had expected to be accredited as an official chaplain but that the Chinese are not intending to accredit any such chaplains. You should then ask your national Olympic Committee if they would be willing to accredit you as part of your national delegation in order to serve the needs of your Olympic team.

We are also planning to have a small team of international on-call chaplains in Beijing. They would be on standby and would be available to be called in if a say, Portuguese or Russian speaking Olympian wanted to meet a chaplain. There might also be the possibility of access to the village through day passes. Of course, there would also be the possibility of such a chaplain being in Beijing for 3 weeks without ever gaining access to the village.

Please keep in touch and let us know if you approach your national Olympic Committee and their reaction. Also let us know if you would be interested in being in Beijing as an on-call chaplain.

Stuart Weir - On behalf of the International Sport Coalition, Serving the People of Sport Chaplaincy Group

Friday, February 8, 2008

Coaches and Support Staff

After fourteen years of ministry in sport, I am more convinced than ever that investing in the coaches and support staff is a key component to a chaplain’s or mentor’s effective ministry. If one only concentrates on the competitors, one can miss some insight the coaches, trainers (physios), equipment managers, and such may have about the player and his or her needs. These people are often with teams for a long time and could help you weather the changes that come in the world of sport.

Here are some ideas for building and maintaining such relationships:
· Learn their names and call them by name when you see them on the field, pitch or court.
· Occasionally drop them a call, email, or card to express your thanks or to tell them that you’ve observed their good work.
· Encourage them when you see them doing well.
· Give them hope when you see them failing.
· Ask good questions about their work and their perceptions about the players you serve.
· Care for their families.
· Share books, web sites, articles, etc. which can be helpful to them.
· Serve these people by offering to help carry something, to drive them somewhere, anything which they need and you can provide.
· Be with them, love and serve them in times of crisis.
· Pray for them, their needs and pray with them if the opportunity arises. Nothing communicates compassion and the presence of Christ more than praying with another.