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.”