Friday, May 31, 2013

Networking with Other Sport Chaplains, Character Coaches and Sport Mentors

This week I’d like to have you consider the benefits of networking with other sport chaplains, character coaches and/or sport mentors. We’ll also suggest some ways to make such networking connections. I hope that networking with your colleagues in similar ministries becomes as valuable to you as it is to me.

Some of the benefits of networking are:

·        Gathering wisdom from one’s colleagues.

·        Learning from others’ mistakes without having to make them yourself.

·        Comparing ideas for new ministries helps us design them wisely.

·        Accountable relationships help us avoid errors and foolish decisions.

·        One can find valuable resources through his colleagues.

·        The broader one’s network is the greater one’s ministry reach is.

·        Colleagues in our network help provide new opportunities for our ministries.

·        Encouragement, challenge, vision, insight, and such gathered from others.

Some of the ways to connect with and to develop a network of colleagues are:

·        Email (It’s kind of old school now, but it’s been really effective for me for over a dozen years.)

·        Social networking (facebook, twitter, Google+, instagram, LinkedIn, etc…)

·        Blogs (Some like are free of charge and easy to set up.)

·        Phone (Your phone will work for phone calls, really.)

·        SMS text messages (It’s easy to network with individuals or groups via text messages.)

·        In person. (Visit another at his or her place of service. Attend conferences and other ministry events, seeking out your colleagues.)

Networking is among the simplest, most cost effective and powerful ways to develop one’s ministry among the men and women of sport. Please consider any and all the avenues at your disposal to connect with others in similar ministries and you’ll enhance them as you are enriched by them.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Demonstrating Respect vs. Demanding One’s Rights

In many cultures, especially in the USA, and even more often in sports cultures there is a tendency for people to demand their rights. There is lots of talk about what he deserves, what she has earned, that they have a right to this or that. The problem for us is that this way of thinking is contrary to the Lord’s way of leading through service and forfeiting our rights to love like He does. Once again, the faithful sport chaplain, character coach or sport mentor hears the Lord Jesus’ call to be countercultural and to demonstrate respect rather than demanding his rights. Let’s consider some ways we may live out this ethic among our friends and colleagues in sport.
• The one who demonstrates respect honors the boundaries set for him (where to be and not to be, time parameters, etc.) but the one who demands his rights barges in where he doesn’t belong and thereby compromises relationships for a greater sense of privilege.
• We demonstrate respect when we take no offense to others’ good natured kidding, even if it cuts a little deeper than we’d like. When we demand our rights by being too easily offended by a comment, a perceived slight or by being omitted from an invitation list, we expose the self-centered nature of our hearts.
• Those who compliment others freely are demonstrating respect. They are not flattering others, but simply giving voice to their observations of excellence. Those who constantly solicit compliments for their work are demanding their rights and pollute the atmosphere around them. They either go fishing for compliments by asking, “How’d I do?” or even offer their own comments for others to endorse. “That was a great chapel talk, don’t you think?”
Our roles in the sports world demand that we forfeit our rights and seek the best of others, even at our personal cost. This is Jesus’ way. It is very well described for us in Mark 10:42-45. “Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” Jesus, rather than demanding His rights as Creator and Lord, forfeited them to serve and to give His life – a ransom for many. He wisely demonstrated respect, thereby confounding the elite and the powerful.
Let’s each and all follow Jesus’ model by demonstrating respect to those who deserve it and especially to those who don’t. Let’s also follow Him by forfeiting, rather than demanding our rights. He will be our protection and our provision if we will trust Him to accomplish His purposes in His time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Effective Resources for Ministry in Sport

You have been very generous to share a few of the resources (other than books) which have produced good results within your ministries with sportspeople.

I am specifically referring to:
• Bible studies
• Videos
• Web sites
• Periodicals
• Podcasts
• Phone apps
• On-line devotionals
• Others?

A compilation of such resources from our colleagues around the world is below. Thanks very much.

From Joey Potter of FCA Missions – Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Bible studies - through Gateway Bible which will send your specific study. Mine – Words of Jesus; study on what Jesus spoke about in Matt, Mark, Luke, & John…
Videos – ESPN & Student Athletes creating them…
Web sites – North Point
Others? - Andy Stanley & Matt Chandler

From Jonathan Berry of Bloomington-Normal FCA – Illinois, USA
Video - Band of Brothers WWII series from HBO. I have 8 clips that range from 5-8 minutes long that I have used for both high school and college football chapels. It has been more of a character coaching resource but allows some open doors for introducing Christ as well.

From Pat Ford – West Texas FCA Character Coach and Chaplain, USA
I use the “Habitudes” curriculum quite a lot. The athletes have responded very well to the videos. Strongly recommend.

From Carl Erskine – Former pitcher for Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers
Personal lifestyle.

From Robbie Gwinn - Illini Land FCA – Champaign, Illinois, USA
The short devotions that are in the back of the FCA Coach Bible or within the “Legacy Builders” studies.

From Jackie Taylor –
Facebook is my most effective tool for my ministry. Reading what they or their families are going through, gives me an opportunity to offer prayer, scripture and encouragement.

From Tom Ramsay - Oregon State University, USA
“I am Second” video testimonies of athletes found on you tube (many to choose from) Jason Witten example  
Podcast Andy Stanley ‘Your Move” The New Rules on Love Sex and Dating (4 part series)
Bible Study on Parables from the Gospels has made for some great discussions. Resource ‘Parables in the eye of the storm’-Stanley Ellisen
Web Site for Games, Mixers, Discussion Galore  

From Dr. Ed Gomes – Liberty University, USA
Bible studies: Navigator bible studies
Videos: “Blind side” “Grace Card”
Web sites: Focus on the Family (for dealing with pornography)
Periodicals: FCA magazine

Friday, May 10, 2013

Faithful vs. Flashy

Faithful vs. Flashy

While this may seem like an easy contrast for most of us, there are times when many of us struggle with how much flash to bring to our service.  We know we should be faithful, but we occasionally hear of or even observe others who serve similarly and wonder, “Should I be more dramatic in my presentations?  Would I communicate better if I was a little louder or more flamboyant? Maybe I should incorporate some of that guy’s oratory in my talks. What if I dropped some of that motivational stuff I saw on YouTube into my next chapel?” We bump into other sport chaplains or character coaches and make comparisons between our respective “styles.” Relax! Be who you are. Odds are the one to whom you are comparing yourself was simply being himself. Be faithful.

Here are some contrasts between being faithful and being flashy. They’re probably oversimplified, but they’re intended to help, not to hurt.
One who is Faithful is steady and unassuming, the Flashy are often overly loud and overly dramatic.
The Faithful are a little camera shy, whereas the Flashy are camera seeking.
The Faithful are diligent to speak the language of their sport’s culture, the Flashy simply mimic the catch phrases from pop culture and sports talk radio.
The Faithful work to blend in with the team by dressing as its leaders (coaches) do, The Flashy are sartorially spectacular so as to attract attention.
The Faithful have a long-term focus, thinking in terms of decades, but the Flashy have a short-term approach, thinking in terms of minutes.
The Faithful take a relationship oriented approach to ministry, whereas the Flashy take a program oriented approach.
The Faithful are people-centered in their service – conscious of their audience and how to best communicate God’s truth with them, but the Flashy are message-centered in their service – conscious of the content, style and delivery of their message above all other concerns.

The challenge is to be faithful, regardless of style or personality. Your service of God with the men and women of sport is not enhanced by a more flamboyant style, neither is it of greater value if wrapped in more trendy slogans or flashier clothing.  Let’s each be challenged by the Apostle Paul’s admonition from I Corinthians 4:1-2 “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (New King James Version) This is the standard – Faithfulness.  Let’s pursue that over flashiness.

Friday, May 3, 2013

FCA Character Coach / Sport Chaplain Conference

Earlier this week the fourth annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Character Coach / Sport Chaplain Conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland (USA). It featured the NFL’s Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens’ chaplain – Pastor Rod Hairston as the chaplain to chaplains; Pastor Tom Brawner from Overland Park, Kansas; Coach Joe Ehrmann from Coach For America and some guy from Carbondale, Illinois as presenters. Thanks to everyone who participated in every way.


This region of the USA is growing exponentially in its training, assignment and development of character coaches who are serving with junior high, high school and club sports teams. For the pre-conference training session, Maryland FCA Director Mark Stephens was hoping for 55 people to attend and 95 showed up. I spent three hours sharing with this tremendous group of men and women on Monday afternoon and then the conference began for everyone else.


Pastor Hairston was inspirational for all. Tom Brawner again delivered substantive teaching related to the source of our identity and its implication upon the lives of the sportspeople we serve and for our own lives in Christ. Coach Ehrmann was deeply impactful as he talked about our role in helping develop Transformational Coaches. He also had his mentor, Larry Moody (for over thirty years a chaplain on the PGA Tour), the man who led Joe to Christ while he was playing in the NFL, to join us for an invaluable questions and answer session. I did a presentation about ministry in moments of crisis and then had the opportunity for my teaching to be tested later in the evening as our rented van was towed from a downtown parking lot. (Thankfully, it seems I passed the test due to some great teammates.) A number of character coaches and chaplains from various backgrounds comprised a panel for a question and answer session. We solicited questions from the conferees on paper and selected several to address. A pair of area volunteer character coaches shared their passion for this ministry, their enthusiasm for their teams and their vision for the growth of such opportunities with our gathering of 135 men and women from all across the USA, Mexico and Brazil. Mikado Hinson, Sport Chaplain to the University of Houston Athletic Department, served as our masters of ceremonies and did a great job. We employed various media as parts of our conference as marvelously facilitated by our host church. Jordan Barnes did a phenomenal job of managing all the logistics and Amy Elrod conducted a number of interviews which will later be shared on our website ( as we upgrade our on line training and resources. Jeff Martin of FCA was not in attendance, but his leadership through the months of planning was instrumental to the conference’s success.


Resources were distributed free of charge by Cross Training Publishing ( Larry Moody’s Search Ministries ( contributed CDs and DVDs as well as his ministry’s 1-2-3 philosophy of evangelism. Everyone received FCA’s Sport Chaplain / Character Coach Training Manual. Several other resources were made available for sale and many were enriched by those purchases.


The conference was structured with numerous breaks, on site meals and with plenty of time for discussion, networking, relationship development and time to think and to process what was delivered by the presenters. We were pleased with the growing number of women and the ethnic diversity of the people who attended this conference. We were also very pleased with the inclusion of character coaches and sport chaplains from Athletes in Action and Nations of Coaches. We do not want this conference to be limited to FCA’s brand name, but want to embrace everyone serving in similar ministries.


Next year’s conference will be scheduled soon and will be held in Kansas City, Missouri at FCA’s National Support Center. Please watch for the announcement and plan to join us. Your ministry will be enhanced by our presenters, by growing your network and by connecting with mentors in this transformational ministry in sport.