Friday, December 28, 2012

Year-end Greetings

Here at the end of the year, I’d like to express my thanks for taking time to read the emails which I send to you on Fridays. I also want to communicate the things I hope and pray for you.

As the Apostle Paul was closing his second letter to his friends in Thessalonica, he wrote in chapter 3 and verse 5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” He prays for God’s direction toward two ends:

• He prays that the Lord will direct them toward God’s love, that is daily assurance of His protection, presence and provision.

• He also prays that the Lord will lead them toward Christ’s perseverance, the ability to finish life well.

That would be my prayer for you as well. I pray that you’ll have a day to day sense of the Lord’s presence in your life. That comes through relationship with Christ Jesus. I also pray that you’ll press through the difficult times of your life with the assurance that our Lord will never leave nor forsake you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Sportsights" podcast

As I am on vacation this week through the Christmas holiday next week, I am sending along a brief note about a podcast to which I subscribe and would like to recommend to you and those whom you serve. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Neil Urquhart has recorded a number of brief thoughts entitled, “Sportsights.” They are each three minutes in length, are wisely crafted in terms of content and they feature his delightful Scottish accent. I have listened to all 28 episodes that are presently on-line and highly recommend them to you. They are available for free download on itunes at this address -  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Game Day Devotional Letters

One of the tools for ministry which I have used most consistently over my 19 seasons with college and high school football teams, college basketball and volleyball teams is writing devotional thoughts in letter form to either be read aloud to the team or to be copied and distributed to the team on paper, or even both.

There are a few reasons why I persist in this method and why I believe it to be remarkably effective. 1) This information is delivered on game day when the players and coaches are at a heightened state of intensity and focus. 2) Its form, that of a letter, is more personal than a simple devotional photocopied from a book. It is addressed to them and crafted for this day, this game, this opponent and today’s situation. If feels immensely more personal to the reader or hearer. 3) By using it consistently, across the years of a player’s career, it becomes a normal part of game day. 4) It gives the readers something to hold onto, to re-read, to keep in his or her locker and it contains my contact information for later conversations.

I have been stunned at the remarkable way that coaches and players, both male and female, have responded to these letters. One team kept each letter across their 35 game basketball schedule and then copied them and put them in a binder for each player at season’s end. One football player told me that he had kept the game day letters from every game of his four seasons in a binder. The personal nature, the timeliness and consistency of this method seems to connect deeply with competitors’ hearts. Below is a sample of the text which I print onto my letterhead and sign at the bottom, just like a personal letter to a friend. Please consider this method for its strong effect.

Saluki Football – The Team

October 13, 2012


How would you describe the sense of team unity experienced by this team? What are the benefits that accompany a team with great unity versus a team that is full of strife, contention and selfish attitudes?

Today’s scripture describes such unity in Psalm 133 and verse 1. There we read, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Seems simple, huh? The psalmist says that unity produces an atmosphere that is good and pleasant. It’s simple to describe, but harder to produce.

Team unity is good, leading to the best possible performance from everyone related to the team. Unity brings out the best in each player, coach, trainer, equipment manager, etc…

Team unity is pleasant, smoothing out every potential conflict and contention. Every team is made up of vastly different people. It’s supposed to be that way. Team unity allows us to maintain a focus on our common goals, aspirations and values. That makes the living together pleasant.

In today’s competition, let great team unity produce an atmosphere of goodness and pleasance. Strive together to see each teammate compete to his highest capacity. Keep your focus on unifying words and actions that make the whole process pleasant for everyone concerned. Compete in unified way and you’ll be unstoppable.

God bless,

Roger Lipe
Psalm 90:12-17

Friday, December 7, 2012

Long-term Service Advantages

One of the advantages of being fifty-six years old and having served in one place for almost nineteen years is that I now have a history with a large number of people. Literally hundreds of student-athletes and coaches have come through our university’s athletics program in several different sports from all over the USA and across the world. That history has afforded me the opportunity to have some measure of impact upon the lives of many. Some of the impact is immediately apparent and other times it is five or six years down the line before we hear about how the Word of God, sown into the hearts of young men and women, comes to full fruition.


A couple of days ago I received an SMS text message from one of those people with whom I have a rich history. She was a heptathlete with our Track and Field team from 1993 – 1997. She had grown up on a farm in a small town about 45 miles from the university and arrived on campus with a strong commitment to Christ. She was a dynamic personality and a leader of our Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry on campus, at camps in the summer and by sharing her faith with others in our community. Later she married an SIU Football player from San Diego, California and they moved there for his career as a police officer. They now have four children and are making an impact upon that community. Though separated by thousands of miles, we still correspond regularly and occasionally get to see each other when they come here to visit family or when I get to travel to the west coast. Messages like this one and transformed lives like those of Ryan and Vena (Clendenin) Hallahan make every day of my life worthwhile and richly rewarding.

“Just had to write and let you know just how thankful I am for all your spiritual guidance over the years. I am currently going through a Beth Moore study and we are reflecting back on those that played a part in our walk with Christ. I just came to the years in college and was writing down all God had done in my life at that time and I have you to thank and I will be eternally grateful for your encouragement and support in my ever growing relationships with Jesus Christ- and also helping me find the love of my life. (We both know Ryan needed some help with that) :) You’re the BEST!!!

Lots of love,


I pray that each of us persist in our roles long enough to receive many such text messages, emails, phone calls, letters or other expressions of thanks and reminders that we are simply carried along by the Lord’s grace and mercy as He shapes the lives of His own. Let’s be his partners in life transformation and thereby have our hearts filled, again and again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Behind the Scenes vs. High Profile

Many of our colleagues serve in rather obscure settings, with almost invisible teams or clubs and with coaches and competitors who are much less than household names. Others of us serve with clubs which are on television every day, with high profile people who are seen daily in advertising of all sorts and whose sporting gear is worn by fans of all ages. Many of us are somewhere in the middle with our service being among “local celebrities,” sporting people who have some profile in their communities, but not so much celebrity across the nation or the globe. While serving in any of these stations, it is wise for us to consider how to manage our own approach to obscurity vs. celebrity.

Some of our colleagues trade on their position and use their favor with the club as a central part of their fund-raising, to obtain outside speaking engagements and occasionally to prop up their own sense of celebrity.

Some of our colleagues serve faithfully in more remote situations where the spotlights and television cameras never even appear. They’re not tempted by the allure of celebrity or reflected glory of fame, simply because they never even encounter it.

I’d like to have us consider the tension between serving entirely “behind the scenes” and holding a “higher profile” position as a sport chaplain, a character coach or a sport mentor. These are in no particular order, but I do hope they’re each insightful and spur you to contemplation and wise decision making.

• A higher profile in a community makes it somewhat easier to do fund-raising because people will associate you with their favorite team, institution, community, etc…

• A higher profile can help one build a platform for ministry in a community from which one can gather volunteers and other ministry partners to further your ministry goals.

• A higher profile in a state school (USA) can raise scrutiny from prying media members seeking a controversial story, university officials with conflicting agendas, lawyers with an axe to grind, and others who could jeopardize one’s freedom of service.

• A higher profile can cause those one is serving, the coaches and competitors in the club or team, to question his or her motives. “Is he here to serve us or to build his “brand?”

• A higher profile is perceived by some as indicative of self-promotion, betraying a self-centered attitude.

• A couple of simple scriptures which can help us check our attitudes and inform our hearts are these:

o Proverbs 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Self-promotion is less than wise.

o Proverbs 27:21 “The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, And each is tested by the praise accorded him.” Praise, celebrity, fame and public honors will certainly test our hearts to their core. Some of us will pass and others will fail this test.

Let’s live wisely in this tension. Understand that the alluring nature of fame and celebrity can afford us some things which will enhance our ministries, but they can also serve as traps which can seriously hinder as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sport Chaplain Networking

During last week’s meetings of the Serving the People of Sport Council ( in Orlando, Florida (USA) we discussed the building of a network of sport chaplains and character coaches who serve teams and clubs around the world. I have been given the charge of gathering a listing of these various networks and making contact with someone in each. Our aim will be to engage each such network with periodic communication and to share information broadly among all such networks. We believe that each network has insight, experience and understanding with the others and that we all are enhanced by each one in our broader network.

Below is a list which we compiled while sitting in the room last Thursday. We paged through our minds and smart phones to compile a list of networks of sport chaplains and character coaches who serve teams or clubs anywhere in the sports world. This list is surely not comprehensive and we would like to hear from you regarding networks not on our list and the names and contact information for anyone you know in such networks. Thanks for your invaluable contributions. This is only a starting point, but it is most important. (I apologize in advance for any name spelling errors.)

Sport Chaplaincy Australia – Cameron Butler

Sport Chaplaincy New Zealand – Ross Georgiou

Sport Chaplaincy Caribbean – Gerard Deonarine

Sport Chaplaincy Canada – Jesse W. (I need contact information for this person.)

Sport Chaplaincy U. K. – Richard Gamble (I need contact information for this person.)

C. S. F. – India – Sebastian (I need contact information for this person.)

Atletas de Cristo – Brazil – Sergio (I need contact information for this person.)

S.C.A.S. – South Africa – Hein Reyneke

M.D.I. – Portugal – Armenio Anjos

Women’s Tennis Chaplains – Ashley Null

Christian Surfers International – Brett Davis

Surf Life Saving – Terry (I need a complete name and contact information for this person.)

Indy Racing League – Bob Hills

Sport Chaplains in Latin America – Julio Bautista

College Football Chaplains – USA – Wes Yeary

Motor Racing Outreach – USA - ____________ (I need a name and contact information for this person.)

WNBA Chaplains – USA – Kathy Malone-Sparks

Chaplains Roundtable – USA – Bill Houston

Baseball Chapel – USA and Latin America - Rob Crose

U.P.I. – Baseball - Tom Roy (I need contact information for this person.)

P.A.O. – USA – Steve Stenstrom (I need contact information for this person.)

A.A.C.C. - ___________ - (I need a name and contact information for this person.)

Fellowship of Christian Athletes – USA and global – Roger Lipe

Athletes in Action – USA and global - ______________ (I need a name and contact information for this person.)

Nations of Coaches – USA – Tommy Kyle

SRS – Germany and Europe – Hannes Schmidts

Sports Chaplains Network – USA – Ken Cross

K.R.I.K. – Norway – Kjell M. (I need contact information for this person.)

Hockey Ministries International – North America – Don Lesar

Cowboy Church – USA - ______________ (I need a name and contact information for this person.)

Motorcycle Racing Ministries – SRS – Germany - ______ (I need a name and contact information for this person.)

Wrestling Chaplains – Global – Carl Dambman

Once again, if you notice a network that is not represented in this list and you can provide some point of contact for us, please reply to this email,, with that information. We aim to serve and to connect faithful sport chaplains with each other and with the best avenues of service to the people of sport. Thank you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Global Sports Chaplain Ministry

I’m writing today from Orlando, Florida in the USA where I’m meeting with a large number of other sports ministry leaders from around the world. Among those in attendance are men and women who comprise the Serving the People of Sport Council. Our web site is –  and we’d love to have you stop by.

Among the numerous ways this council works to facilitate ministry with the people of sport (coaches and competitors of all ages, both genders and all levels of development) is sports chaplaincy. This week we met together and have put into motion a plan to develop sports chaplaincy around the globe in four important ways:

1. Major Events Sports Chaplaincy - (Olympic Games, World Cups of various sports, Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, Caribbean Games, etc…) These may be global in scope, regional or even within one country. We will build a team to give this avenue of ministry leadership and to develop it widely and deeply.

2. Club and Team Sport Chaplaincy – This will be an effort to network with circles of sports chaplains serving around the world who serve teams or clubs at every level of sport, from young amateurs to the highest professional levels in every sport possible. We intend to gather and to disseminate the best practices and wisdom from these various networks of faithful servants as well as to connect people within various networks for exchange of ideas, mentoring and more.

3. Sport Mentoring – rather than working with teams, sport mentors work with individuals in sport. They may be in the teams served by club or team chaplains or they may be rather alone in their teams or in individual sport. This has been developed well by some of our friends in Europe and we will seek to grow this method of ministry elsewhere.

4. Sport Chaplain training – we will seek to provide training at the introductory level which could include on-line training, more intensive training that will be done on site over multiple days and even more academic and longer term training opportunities. This is an ambitious and difficult task, but one we’re committed to seeing through to completion.

Please join us in praying for the success of these four avenues of sport chaplain ministry development. If you’d like more information or details, please email me at  and I’ll be pleased to deliver.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Volunteer Character Coach Process

Among the many areas of the USA which are developing Sport Chaplain / Character Coach ministry among volunteers are the Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff people in Maryland, Mark Stephens and Chris Rich. Their influence in this sort of ministry has extended all the way to Philadelphia as they have held several training sessions for Character Coaches there as well.

Please give this process careful consideration if you are investigating the possibilities of facilitating such dynamic ministry in your area. They are doing a phenomenal job! Thanks to Chris and Mark for sending this outline of their process.

Process for Recruiting, Training, Placing and Supervising Character Coaches:

We have seen that the best Character Coaches come from a great relationship with the coach. When a coach is willing to open up the program to the Character Coach and not just make it a "side show" is where our Character Coach has been the most successful.

When I supervise our Character Coaches I remind them that we MUST minister TO and then THROUGH the coach. Yes, we hold chapels, and character talks, and events for players even if the coach is not there but we must stay true to who we are and that is ministers to COACHES and ATHLETES!

Now, with that being said here is the process we work through:


1. Prayer: Everything starts with prayer, I cannot tell you how many times I have been praying for a school and in no time at all a Character Coach comes out of nowhere and a coach is willing to have him.

2. Ask: We work through some of our local Church partnerships. I will go sit down with the Pastor, present the vision of the Character Coach ministry and then ask him if he knows anyone in his congregation that would be a good Character Coach.

3. Get2Know: Once I have a name of a potential Character Coach I will work through the pastor to get to know this person, where they will fit, what sport, etc.


We never post for an opening as a Character Coach. First of all, we are under the radar so posting a position is too out there. Secondly, this is a calling and it is important for me to know the person and place them where I feel led by the Lord that they will succeed. I never want to get applications for a Character Coach position. For many of our coaches this is the only interaction they have with a believer so it HAS to be the right guy.

1. Whenever I chat with someone who wants to volunteer within FCA I always share with them the Character Coach program and vision.

2. As I get to know new people I start to see if I feel like they would fit within the Character Coach program.

- Just as a disclaimer, not everyone fits within the program, some are fit to volunteer other places. Do not try and fit people in just to get a spot filled. I have tried and it doesn't work out well.


1. Once we decide that someone would like to be a Character Coach we require them to go through a 3 hour training. During this training we train right out of the Chaplains Manual now put out by FCA. Three main part of our training are Presence, Attitude and Relationships.

2. In some rare cases we place someone before there is a training we will do a 1 on 1 training where myself or the local staff will take them out to lunch or coffee and walk through everything with them.

3. We give our Character Coaches a list of resources to use.


2. Roger Lipe's weekly emails

3. “Transforming Lives in Sport” by Roger Lipe

4. We have an email distribution list to all Character Coaches where they receive chapel outlines that others have done in the past.



2. The relationship between the Coach and the Character Coach is the most important thing. The coach must trust the Character Coach with his players.

1. I try to meet up front with the Coach and the Character Coach before they begin any ministry there. We lay everything on the table and ask how the Coach wants it to look.

2. REMEMBER: It looks different everywhere. There is no cookie cutter way. Some head coaches make it optional for their players so that they can use Scripture and make it a true "Chapel". Others say they are going to make it mandatory and they want it to be Character based. In some places we don’t even start with a message or chapel service we strictly start with the presence and just being there getting to know players. Sometimes it is before games, sometimes it is the night before, sometimes the Character Coach is allowed on the sidelines and in other places they aren’t.

3. So, we ask the coach how he feels. We ask him how he wants it to look. We are there to serve him and his team. We want an open line of communication from the very start.

3. Once we have decided that we are placing someone with a coach we can now begin to interact with the players in whatever way shape or form that coach allows.

Mark Stephens says "Placing a Character Coach with a team is like dating. Both parties have to want to date. There has to be a mutual like and respect for each side and communication has to be open in order for it to succeed. If one side doesn't want to date and we try to force our way in there with a Character Coach it is bound to have struggles or even fail."


1. Constant Contact: I email or call all of my Character Coaches once a week while they are in season. I ask them how they are doing, what they are speaking on, what time they will be speaking, how I can pray for them, etc.

2. Visit Chapels: It is very hard to visit chapels because most of them are around the same time. But, I intentionally try and visit every chapel. Some this is more possible than others, but I like to be there. I will sit in the back of the room with a pad of paper and write down good and bad things the Character Coach did and then coach them up at the end of the time with the team. I can do this right in the room face to face, or take him or her out for coffee or even via our phone conversation in the coming days.

3. Online reporting immediately following chapel. We will be launching an online reporting tool coming soon that we will ask our Character Coaches to jump online that night or in the coming days and report a few things about chapel. You can see the outline for this at:  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chapel Talk Outline - "Together"

Prior to last week’s game in Fargo, North Dakota, I delivered the talk outlined below to the players and coaches of Saluki Football. We were about to play the North Dakota State Bison in a most important game which would likely affect the conference championship and our playoff chances. The head coach had set the weekly theme as “Together.” As we traveled on Friday, as we did our walkthrough in the Fargodome, through the team dinner and meetings and overnight I contemplated potential texts from scripture which would inform the team’s hearts and fit in with Coach Lennon’s weekly theme.

Early Saturday morning I settled on Hebrews 10:23-25 and the outline for my talk is below. I hope it can be of service to you and your team as they live life ”together.”

1) Introduction – This new day brings with it a tremendous opportunity. Today’s game is the most important one on the schedule, simply because it’s the one we can play today. We together have the opportunity to compete in a contest which holds the potential for success and significance. We together can experience the best that college football has to offer.

2) Let’s stand, take the hands of those at your table and say “The Lord’s Prayer” together.

3) One of the most consistent factors in successful teams is teamwork, a commitment to competing together with one’s teammates, rather than competing individually. Success and significance come our way when we compete together.

4) One of my favorite scriptures about life together is found in Hebrews 10:23-25 (read aloud). There are three big ideas in this text for living life together.

a. Together, hold tightly to hope.

b. Get the bests from each other.

c. Encourage each other.

d. (Expand each with simple examples…)

5) Today for Saluki Football, this text informs our approach to life and competition together.

a. Together, hold tightly to your hope. Refuse to quit on your teammates or on our goals.

b. Get the best from each other. Stimulate, stir up, provoke your teammates to their best football of the season or even their career.

c. Encourage each other. Stay engaged with your team. Use your voice. Look them in the eye and speak courage into the hearts of your teammates.

6) We have the opportunity to experience both success and significance today, as we together hold tightly to hope, as we get the best from each other and as we are encouraged together as “The Team.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Desire" Chapel Talk Outline

Below is another in a series of chapel talk outlines. This one was delivered last Saturday morning prior to the Salukis’ 38-21 victory over the Football Championship Subdivision 14th ranked Youngstown State University Penguins. The Head Coach’s weekly theme was, “Desire.”

1. Introduction to the idea of “desire” and its importance to achievement in any of life’s endeavors.

2. We all stood and took the hands of those at our tables to say, “The Lord’s Prayer” together.

3. “Desire”

a. What are your greatest desires? A championship? The love of a good woman? Success in the classroom and in your career? A family? A legacy, something you achieve that will outlast you?

b. How strongly do you desire those things?

c. The value of those desires and the strength with which you pursue them will greatly affect your life’s achievements.

d. Great desires, those which have long-lasting effects, are worthy of the effort expended.

4. Read the text – Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

a. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. When our desires, the things for which we hope, are delayed in fulfillment our hearts grow sick, weak, powerless and tired.

b. Desire fulfilled is a tree of life. The greatest stuff in life hangs like fruit on a tree when our desires are fulfilled. It’s sweet, satisfying and rich. (Personal examples of such desires fulfilled were inserted here.)

c. The nature and quantity of that fruit is determined by the value of our desires and how strongly we pursue them. Be sure that your desires are wisely chosen and go after them powerfully.

5. Here is a list of some valuable desires for our team today:

a. Win # __ for our team.

b. A stingy defense.

c. A productive offense.

d. An opportunistic set of special teams.

e. Another step toward a conference championship.

f. A powerful victory for “The Team.”

6. The question to be answered at __:__ today is, “How badly do we want to fulfill these desires?” Let’s resolve to pursue them strongly and to then taste the fruit hanging from this day’s tree of life.

7. Prayer to close the chapel.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chaplains Roundtable Update

This is an update on the Chaplains Roundtable events coming up this fall in Indianapolis, IN (USA) and Lansing, MI (USA). These are excellent events for learning, networking and encouragement. There are dozens of men and women who serve as chaplains in attendance at each. There are solid presentations made and there is plenty of time to network, to share ideas and to gather resources from others.

It is entirely driven by our colleagues and includes chaplains from high school and collegiate sports, from major and minor league baseball, from motor racing, from ice hockey and certainly some I have forgotten. If you’re in driving distance of either (I have made the 8 hour drive to Lansing three times), please make plans to attend.

2012 Chaplains Roundtable Update

Are you registered for the 2012 Indy Chaplains Roundtable? The Lord has provided outstanding speakers and great resources once again this year. We have a growing list of attendees but I want to make sure to keep this opportunity before you. Be sure and register's free and well worth a day to experience some tremendous challenge from God's Word, outstanding networking opportunities and of course, encouraging fellowship.

The Indy Roundtable is Wednesday, November 7th at Traders Point Christian Church.

And don't forget about the 2012 Lansing Chaplain's Roundtable which will be Tuesday, December 11th at South Church.

Your only cost is lunch which will be provided. Sign up today at:

I trust you will be with us. See you soon.

Bill Houston

Chaplains Roundtable Ministry

J.D. Collins - Indy Chaplains Roundtable Speaker
Commissioner of the Crossroads Athletic Conference & Former Division I Basketball Referee

J.D. has been with us at the Indy Roundtable on other occasions but will share the speakers platform this year with great insight on "Ministry Through Mentoring."

Paul Allen - Lansing Chaplains Roundtable Speaker
Hockey Ministries International

Paul Allen was a pastor in the Toronto area for nearly 20 years and has been invovled in hockey chaplaincy for nearly a decade. Paul has been part of the Lansing Chaplains Roundtable before...but this year, we have the privilege of hearing his heart as one of our featured speakers. He will address the topic "Ministry in Crisis Situations."

Game Plan for Life by Joe Gibbs

Each attendee will receive a copy of Game Plan for Life by Joe Gibbs. Zondervan Publishing has once again come through with an outstanding resource you will refer to time and time again.  The Game Plan for Life Bible will reveal God’s perspective in a practical, engaging way. Joe Gibbs writes realistic, accessible notes about God’s perspective on the everyday life issues men struggle with most. This hardcover NIV Bible gives you the tools you need to build a solid, God-honoring game plan for your life.

Dr. James Jackson - Chaplain, Indiana Pacers
Dr. Jackson is a dynamic speaker and will be joining us for his first Indianapolis Chaplains Roundtable.

Alan Seaborn - Winning at Home Ministries
Alan will be attending his first Lansing Chaplains Roundtable. You'll not want to miss his challenge as he looks at the topic "Ministry to Those Impacted by the Breakdown of the Family."

Paul Kobylarz - Pastor & Former Pro-Hockey Player
Paul has a contagious heart for sports ministry. He will be sharing at his first Indy Chaplains Roundtable. No doubt we will hear of his ministry opportunities in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Hotel Information for Indianapolis
If you are interested in hotel accommodations for Tuesday, November 6th in Indy, please be aware that Trader's Point Christian Church has a working agreement with Hilton Garden Inn on the Northwest Side of the city. Just mention Trader's point and you will receive a special rate. Hotel reservations can be made by following this link...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ministry Methods from College Football

As we are now half way through another college football season, I thought I’d share some of the simple, but effective methods of ministry which I have used across now 19 seasons with the Football Salukis. These are not terribly difficult nor costly in terms of cash. They can be rather risky for your heart and your ego as they expose the user to emotional trauma and lead you to love people who are sometimes rather unlovely. Please feel free to contact me for discussion of these if you would like. I’m happy to share.

1) Devotional thoughts printed onto personal stationery and distributed at the team’s pre-game meal. When the team gathers for its pre-game meal, I have a devotional thought prepared for them, printed onto my personal stationery in letter form. It includes the date, the team’s theme for the season, the devotion and finally it is signed at the bottom. This form makes it much more personal to the readers than a simple devotional on paper. I have heard from several players over the years that they had saved each of these from their whole playing careers.

2) Pre-game chapel talks. This is a most common form for ministry in the USA among football teams. It usually looks like a talk which parallels the team’s situation and a scriptural principle or narrative with application being made from the scripture to the day’s competition. These usually take place during a team chapel which could be the evening before the game or the morning prior to the game. It’s very convenient to do these events immediately prior to a team’s meal together. This way it is very convenient as the team is coming there anyway. I would suggest that brevity is an important value for these. I never speak for more than five minutes.

3) Visits to practice. During the week of practice, I make it a point to visit at least a couple of times. My entire agenda is to observe, to converse and to listen. I am there to gather information, to perceive the mood and tone of practice and the coaching staff, to hear concerns expressed by anyone who approaches me and to pray for anyone who asks that of me. I usually speak with the athletic trainer as he knows everyone’s health concerns, injury status, etc… Being at practice when the hard work gets done, the fans are absent and the lights are not shining wins me favor with the players and communicates commitment that simply showing up on game day can never accomplish.

4) Pre-game intercession. Between the team chapel and pre-game meal and kickoff, there is a terribly long and stressful period of waiting. It seems to take forever for this three and one half hours to elapse. One productive thing to do in this time is to pray for the players, coaches, officials and opponents in this day’s game. I generally pray for our individual players either by number, name and responsibility or pray for them in groups. That is I would pray for the quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, safeties, etc… I never pray for wins, but I do pray for the players to be at their best, to be great teammates, for the coaches to lead wisely and to have great insight, for the officials to do their jobs well, for our opponents to be free from injury and to compete strongly and honorably.

5) Sideline presence and prayer. As I have been privileged to be on our team’s sideline for the past 17 seasons, it has given me numerous occasions to pray for players on the field to calm their nerves, to consecrate their competition, to appeal for healing for an injury, to encourage and to challenge. I also work to encourage and to lead the team’s attitude through encouragement and appealing to their hearts.

6) Collective prayer. In most of our seasons, our team has prayed the Lord’s Prayer in the locker room both before and after each game. This season, we are also saying it at the beginning of each team chapel. During some seasons in the past, we have taken time during team chapels to invite various players and coaches to pray aloud for various sections of the team or for their concerns on game day. By praying together, they experience unity and community in ways foreign to most. They also hear models of prayer from their teammates and coaches which can shape how they experience the Lord’s presence and help them learn to pray.

7) Occasional guests at chapel. On occasion, with specific purposes in mind, I will invite someone to join me at our pre-game chapel. Sometimes this person is invited to speak with our team and other times simply to lend his presence to this community. When the guest is to speak, I make sure he knows the length of time allowed for his talk and my expectations for it. When the guest is simply there to be seen, I introduce him and tell the team why he is someone they should meet. At tomorrow’s chapel, we will have both. The guest speaker will be a local high school teacher and coach who can both deliver on a talk and is a solid model of what it looks like to be a Christian coach, a man, a husband and father. The other guest will be my father. I simply want our young men to see that it’s possible for a 56 year old man to have a significant relationship with his 82 year old father. Such generational integrity of family is terribly foreign to most of our team.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chapel Talk Outlines - The Team

One of our colleagues asked last weekend that I share more of the chapel talk outlines from this season’s series, “The Team.” I may share more as I develop them this season. Please feel free to use them as you will.

Sacrifice and Commitment

1) Prayer

2) To be a _____________ player, a member of this team, will require sacrifice and commitment.

3) Luke 9:57-62 (read the text aloud)

4) Jesus said that to follow Him would be:

a. Uncomfortable – physical commitment and sacrifice

b. Inconvenient – hours of sacrifice and commitment

c. Exclusive – most will not make the sacrifice nor commitment

5) The Kingdom of God is Jesus’ team

6) This team - __________________ will require sacrifice and commitment. It will be:

a. Uncomfortable – physical commitment and sacrifice

b. Inconvenient – hours of sacrifice and commitment

c. Exclusive – most will not make the sacrifice nor commitment

7) There are no participation medals at this level of sport. To achieve and to win real rewards requires sacrifice and commitment.

8) Pray


1) Prayer

2) Introduction –

a. Jim Hart played quarterback for the SIU Salukis and then in the NFL from 1966-1984.

b. He played in 201 games and passed for over 34,000 yards.

c. He was selected for the Pro Bowl 4 times and was the 1974 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

3) He was a great player and a great teammate.

4) He spoke to a Saluki Football chapel in 1994 and told us of his favorite scripture – Philippians 2:3-4.

5) Read Philippians 2:3-4 aloud.

6) For us to be the team we need to be to experience success today will require these attitudes:

a. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.

b. Humbly think of others as better than yourself.

c. Don’t only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

7) This is what it means to be “The Team.”

8) This is what will lead us to success today and all season.

9) Prayer


1) Intro – as we continue the process of becoming the team we know we can be, our unity will be tested.

a. When adversity hits us, will we remain unified or will we fracture into finger pointing, placing blame and selfishly protect ourselves?

b. I believe we will choose unity, loyalty and we will each value the team most highly.

c. When we do, we’ll experience the best of college football and life.

2) Prayer

3) Read Psalm 133 aloud – this is a song of Ascents which people would have sung on their way up to Jerusalem for festivals.

4) It is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity.

a. Good = qualities and values

b. Pleasant = aesthetics and sensory appeal

5) It’s like precious oil

a. On the head

b. Down Aaron’s beard

c. Dripping off his clothes

d. Symbolic of the presence of God

e. This is good!

6) It’s like Gatorade

a. Poured over the Head Coach’s head at the end of a game

b. In a championship game

c. Down from his moustache

d. Dripping from his team gear

e. This is good!

7) It’s like the dew of Hermon

a. Water flowing down and making things grow

b. Refreshing their favorite place

c. God has blessed us with life forever

d. This is pleasant!

8) Like cool, fall air

a. Flows into a stadium

b. Refreshing – “This is football weather!”

c. God has blessed us with life – Coach Marv Levy, “Where else would you rather be?”

d. This is awesome!

9) We experience these things, the good and the pleasant, when we are unified.

a. One goal

b. One purpose

c. One team

10) Prayer