Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2015 FCA Sport Chaplains Conference

The 2015 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sport Chaplains Conference will be 16-18 March at the Hope Center in Plano, Texas. http://www.thehopecenter.org/

Registration is now available at www.fcachaplains.org

$249: includes lodging, meals and conference expenses
$125: includes meals and conference expenses

Please fly into the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)


Online registration is available now. You may use a credit card to pay. If you need to pay via check, call or email Jordan Barnes and she will take your registration information. JBarnes@fca.org or (800) 289-0909.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Love Extravagantly and Serve Selflessly

For the last several years I have been describing the primary tasks of sports chaplaincy as being to: Love Extravagantly and to Serve Selflessly. Those are rather broad and sweeping terms and may be too vague for some to gather and to translate into action. The following paragraphs are my attempt at providing example of each. I hope the examples inspire and possibly even provoke you to strong, extravagant, selfless love and service.

When a sports chaplain pursues redemptive relationships with coaches and competitors who are not yet Christians and may not value his or her presence, that is extravagant love.

When a character coach relentlessly attends practices, training sessions, team meetings, and any other team function in the most inconvenient hours of the day, that is extravagant love.

When a sports mentor refuses to give up on the player he or she is mentoring, even when the competitor is more than ready to quit, to withdraw from sport, and even despairs of life itself, that is extravagant love.

When a sports chaplain actively seeks opportunities to take on the most menial tasks, to assist coaches and players with the most unpleasant chores, to find ways to be an ally to the support staff in their roles, that is selfless service.

When a character coach contemplates the genuine needs of his or her team and sees opportunities to take action, that is selfless service.

When a sport mentor is so well connected with those he or she mentors that serving them is a natural outgrowth of their love and respect and there is no thought of personal benefit, that is selfless service.

Extravagant love is, by nature, not safe, not convenient, not easy, not measured, not calculating, but is powerful, transformational, and of lasting effect.

Selfless service is, by nature, not self-centered, not normal, not common, not easy, not always fun, not always noticed or respected, but it is always appropriate, effective, and Christ-honoring.

Let’s be the ones who love extravagantly and serve selflessly. By doing so we will make a powerful impact upon the world of sport and all those who live in it. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Save the Date for the 6th Annual Chaplains Conference

Fellowship of Christian Athletes 6th Annual Sports Chaplains Conference

When: March 16-18, 2015

Where: Dallas, TX

Who: FCA Staff and volunteers who are currently involved or would like to get involved in FCA sport chaplaincy/character coaching will be attending this conference to be equipped, encouraged and trained for chaplain ministry/character coaching. This will be an incredible opportunity to network and learn from some of the top FCA Chaplains in the country.

What: This will be an incredible opportunity to network and learn from some of the top FCA Chaplains in the country. The keynote speaker this year is former FCA staff and current Chaplain/Life Coach for the Baltimore Ravens, Johnny Shelton. Other speakers include Jeff Duke, Coaching Specialist/lecturer for the Sport and Exercise Science degree program at the University of Central Florida and author of "3D Coaching"; and Roger Lipe, Southern Illinois University Sport Chaplain and Southern Illinois FCA Representative.

More details to come soon!

For questions, contact Jordan Barnes at jbarnes@fca.org or 816-892-1119.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Privileged Information

As we serve coaches and competitors in the sports world, we often bear the burden of privileged information. People tell us things that the general public, others involved in the team’s life, and certainly the media don’t need to know. Many people clamor for such information, but somehow we are trusted with it. A brief list of items follows to illustrate the sorts of information we often possess and the reasons for keeping it confidential.

·        Injuries. During most every visit to a team’s practice or training session, at one point I will be chatting with the athletic trainer (physio) and discussing a player with an obvious injury or the rehabilitation process with those in recovery. The big issue here is that if such information is shared with the wrong people, it becomes a factor in shaping the wagers on a contest. We could unwittingly become the person who shapes the betting line in Las Vegas. Beyond that, in the USA, there are laws that normally prevent medical professionals from sharing any information about a patient’s condition. To receive such information is a rare privilege which can be easily revoked if we prove to be less that faithful with the privilege.
·        Relationship problems. We may be sought for advice related to the problems in relationships experienced by players, coaches, support staff, and others. These may be with their significant others, their spouses, their parents, teammates, with their coaches, or with the players they coach. Across twenty-one seasons of service with football, I have encountered each of those at least once. It is wise to be very careful with all such conversations and to not share this information with anyone. To breach confidence with this information could easily shatter the relationships foundational to our service and could certainly feel like betrayal to the one who shared his or her life with us.
·        Team conflicts. Among competitive people, these are a constant. As people compete for playing time, for leadership roles, and other matters, it’s very easy for the competition to result in personal conflicts. There is just as often conflict among a coaching staff due to perceived alliances, personality clashes, comparison of salaries, and more. It is wise for us to handle the information with us very carefully. We must not take sides and must always seek reconciliation.
·        Personnel adjustments. The hiring, firing, resignation, retirement, suspension, and other reasons for movement among the coaching staff, their support staff, and administration is of great consequence for everyone involved. We may be allowed in the process before such moves are made. We could have information about a person’s firing even before the person being fired. We may have privileged information about someone’s impending resignation and the local media would love to have an inside track to break the story. All such information is precious and must never be shared with anyone. To breach this trust could end one’s service with a club or university upon the first violation.
·        Legal issues. Should we get wind of an impending lawsuit against a coach, a player, our club, or someone else in our realm of service, we must be very careful with this information. We should be moved to pray, privately, and not to share the information at church. Rather than to discuss the merits of the suit with others, we should pray for a wise and just resolution of the conflict. No one benefits from our sharing information about such matters.
·        Disciplinary issues. As team members violate team rules, we could be called on for wisdom, perspective, or counsel. Across my years a number of coaches have asked my advice related to possible disciplinary matters. Emotion often clouds the judgment of coaches and others who lead in sport and many will seek the counsel of others who know the people, understand the situation, but are less directly involved. Sometimes that means a call to the team chaplain, the character coach or the sport mentor. As we find ourselves drawn into such a process, treat this privilege with prayer, confidentiality, and wisdom.

Our service of sportspeople will often find us in possession of very privileged information and weighty responsibilities. Let’s reflect the Lord Jesus’ nature of faithfulness, wisdom, and purity as we handle such precious privilege as it will surely directly affect our relationships.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Short-term Projects and Long-term Relationships

Looking back on this season and further back at the past twenty-one seasons with Saluki Football, there are a couple of factors that have made for the enduring nature of our tenure and the successes we have enjoyed in this ministry. Some thoughts about these two factors follow. I hope they are of some value to you.

Factor number 1 – I value short-term projects. When people ask me to take on a project that would require years to complete, I break out in a cold sweat and immediately decline the invitation. If it’s a six month project, I’m listening, but with great reservations. If the project will last six weeks, six days, or six hours, I’m in! This sort of orientation fits the sports world very well as most everything we do is seasonal in nature and even if things are really bad, the season will be over shortly and we can move on.

Factor number 2 – I strongly value long-term relationships. Loyalty, faithfulness, and trustworthiness are among the values I hold most dearly in people and aim to develop in myself. These values have helped me maintain a wide network of long-term relationships. A number of the coaches and players who have been a part of our college football (American Football) program are still in touch with me and my wife. We have their phone numbers, email addresses, family details, Facebook pages, and more angles for staying connected. I seek them out when I visit the places where they live. I look for them at coaches conventions and similar events. Through the season I send text messages to around forty college football coaches scattered across the USA on Fridays and Saturdays.

The odd blend of valuing both short-term projects and long-term relationships has resulted in a freshness to each season with its constant changing of team roster, coaching staffs, and other factors. On the other hand, the continuity of being the veteran of twenty-one seasons lends a constancy to the program as seen by players’ parents, the coaches, and the university administration.

If you are similarly bent toward these two factors, I hope they serve to enhance your ministry with sportspeople as they have mine.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ministry in Athletics (Track and Field): an Evaluation

Over the twenty years I have been privileged to serve as a sports chaplain, I have gained greatly from my colleagues in the USA and abroad. Among those who have contributed most greatly to my service has been Stuart Weir, of Verite Sport (http://www.veritesport.org/) in the United Kingdom. Stuart is a dear friend and a trusted colleague. His unique approach to chaplaincy in Athletics (Track and Field for the Yankees), is effective and fruitful.

Stuart recently wrote an evaluation of this ministry which is very insightful and inspirational. It is included below. I hope his ministry inspires you as it does me.

Athletics ministry: evaluation of a model Version2


I have been operating as an unofficial chaplain to track and field athletics for the past five years. In this paper I attempt to analyse what I do, partly using the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) tool. I am interested in exploring whether this is solely an individual approach or if the methodology would have wider application. I never planned to be in athletics chaplain. It started almost by accident – when someone introduced me to an athlete - and has developed gradually.


My purpose is to encourage Christians in elite athletics in their faith. I am trying to add 5% to an athlete's Christian life by a little input when I meet them at events.

What I do

In 2013 and again in 2014 I attended 14 athletics events - as well as meeting a number of athletes at their training centre on occasions. This is supplemented with emails, texts and phone calls. 

Most people who do sports chaplaincy in a single sport use a chapel or Bible Study model.  While I have led an athletes’ Bible Study and have read the Bible 1-2-1 with athletes, my model is more based on prayer.  I have prayed with far more athletes than I have read the Bible with.  In addition I pray for athletes – daily – and they know that I do.


I have led a formal chapel type service for team GB three times – twice at the World Indoor Athletics Championships which conveniently runs all day Friday, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon – leaving Sunday morning free and the 2014 European Championships.     In 2014 the meeting was semi-official in the sense that the GB team management was aware and allowed us to use the team room. (When GB’s top athlete clearly identifies herself with the event, it certainly makes asking management a lot easier!) 

In both cases I only invited GB athletes – first time the GB athletes wanted to do it just themselves.  In 2014 I would have invited others but the logistics – athletes in 6 different hotels - ruled it out. There is also the tricky issue of whether athletes want to meet their opponents on the morning of their race.

In addition in 2014 I led Bible Studies at three Diamond League events in 2014 with 4-12 athletes attending. This is logistically difficult but seems to work.


There is no set pattern.  Sometimes athletes ask me to pray for them before a race.  One athlete always wants to meet for prayer before each race when we are both at the same event. At the World Indoors, one athlete asked me to pray with her before and after each race. Often it just happens as I chat to an athlete.  I make it known that I am there and available to pray but also try to avoid two pitfalls.  Prayer becoming a superstition – I have a prayer I will win! And prayer for my benefit, to boost my stats and justify my presence.

Target group

The target group is elite athletes - those who are good enough to get into Diamond Leagues, World Championships etc - who are Christians or who have expressed an interest - from whatever country. I am currently in touch with athletes from Britain, Croatia, Romania, USA, Jamaica, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and New Zealand. Unlike a club chaplain I am not seeking to minister to (or evangelise) everyone in the GB team or event.  I am focusing on supporting Christians.  In addition I am developing relationships with administrators.


My accreditation is normally media. By writing for the Oxford Mail and other publications I am now established as an athletics writer and am, more or less automatically, accredited for any athletics event. The accreditation gives me access to athletes in team hotels, possibly in championship villages and always in a mixed zone at the end of competition. I have never sought a chaplaincy accreditation as I feel that mixing media and chaplaincy accreditations risks confusing athletes and administrators.

While I have no official recognition of the ministry, British Athletics know what I do and are comfortable with it - at times very encouraging. Officials have said to me that they see that athletes appreciate me and therefore they feel what I do is positive.

In addition I meet UK athletes at training centres where no accreditation is needed.

Case study 1 - world Championships 2013

A major championship lasts up to 8 days. A Diamond league is normally in one evening event, although athletes may be in the hotel for three days. What I actually do varies greatly according to the nature of the event - its length, the ease of access to athletes etc

In August 2013 I attended the World Athletics Championships in Moscow where I knew 34 athletes.  This is what I did at that event; I would say that I did six different things:

1 prayed for the 34 athletes and told them that I was praying for them;
2 I do a weekly devotion - a Bible verse applied to sport. In Moscow I did a daily devotion which I emailed to the 34 athletes, or to all whose email addresses I had.
3 when appropriate I prayed with athletes.
4 I kept in touch by text and personal email.
5 because of my journalistic accreditation I have access to the mixed zone [where athletes meet press after a race] and spoke to more than 20 athletes after they finished races.
6 I spent hours sitting around in hotel lobbies for the opportunity to snatch a quick word or prayer or greeting with an athlete.

Case study 2 – Olympics 2012

In 2012 I served as the Togo Olympic Attaché – at their invitation.  I did odd jobs for the Togo Olympic Committee in exchange for which I got an accreditation with gave me access to the Olympic Village, athlete dining and athlete transport plus the athletics warm-up area.

Because there were official chaplains and chapel services, I did not offer any Bible Studies during the Olympics but prayed with over 20 different athletes, on several occasions with certain athletes.  Occasionally these were pre-arranged but mainly chance meetings because I had access to where the athletes were.

This was a really productive time for two reasons: I knew a significant number of athletes in advance and I had easy access to where they were.

Model evaluation (SWOT)


The strength of what I do is that I attend enough events to be an accepted part of the entourage.  I know enough athletes that I always have someone to talk to.  Sufficient athletes seem to appreciate my presence to make it work. The advantage of a media accreditation is that it gives me a reason to be at an event and access to athletes. There is always media accreditation at an event, while there is not always chaplaincy – nor Olympic Attaches.

While my priority is to minister to athletes, I do the journalism with integrity. In 2014 I wrote for Oxford Mail at seven events and interviewed athletes or worked for 2K+ radio at most of the others.  Thus I could not really be accused of using a media accreditation as a flag of convenience.

The positive attitude of British Athletics to me is a great help.


I am not sure I see any weaknesses but there are certainly challenges.  The challenges may relate more to the nature of the ministry than the model.

The nature of the ministry makes it hard to evaluate what one is achieving.  If you go an event to do a chapel/Bible Study then if it happens and athletes come, you have achieved your goal.  So much of my work is a prayer here, a word of encouragement there, that it is easy to feel that you have been there all day and achieved nothing.

It can be a very lonely existence as you are at the events but not part of it.  You are always at outsider, occasionally allowed in briefly. 

Much of my time is spent sitting in hotel lobbies.  There is the challenge of knowing when to stay and when to go. Am I in danger of outstaying my welcome?  Even appearing like a groupie?


It is an immense privilege to be allowed into someone’s life and to be part of their support team as they represent Jesus in elite sport.  Being at a lot of events creates a consistency of ministry.  People expect me to be there.


I see three possible threats.  There is certainly a potential conflict of interest between being a journalist and being in a pastoral/chaplaincy role. I feel that I manage that well. As long as athletes understand who I am and what I do, there isn’t a problem.  I say to athletes as I get to know them, if I have my recorder in hand, anything they say may be used but otherwise anything said to me is confidential. Athletes seem to understand and be comfortable with that distinction. I could honestly say that in my five years of doing this I have only once made a significant error in this area.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of Christian athletes are female represents a certain challenge but as I meet people in public places and am not seeking to conduct a deep pastoral discipleship ministry, it seems to work OK.  Because of my age, I am seen as an “uncle” or perhaps grandfather! I am developing a partnership with Julia Wilkinson at Christians in Sport which helps significantly in this area.

Because the work is lonely and because one may be anxious to feel that one is doing enough to justify being there, there is the danger of wanting to minister to athletes for one’s own benefit, not theirs.  That is the need to do a Bible study or pray with athletes to boost my statistics - so that the athletes are effectively ministering to me.


It is an obvious question – what happens when I become more senile. Some have suggested that I look for a possible successor to mentor into the role.  Just not sure that is feasible.  The partnership with Julia Wilkinson certainly helps. Because my primary accreditation is media, anyone working with me would need to have to media accreditation too.  That is they would need to need to have a media outlet in order to get the accreditation as well as the desire to serve the athletes.  Just can’t see how I could make that happen


I recognize that this is very individualistic model which would only work for someone with journalistic skills as well as a desire to serve pastorally.  In my first draft I wrote “it is not a very reproducible model.  However, it is one which works for me”. People who commented on the first draft suggested that it might be more reproducible than I was recognizing. I know of one person who is taking a coaching qualification, partly as a means of being with athletes.  One of European golf tour “chaplains” has a job on the tour which involves standing for hours in the area which players practise.

26 November 2014

Version 2

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Recommendation from the Sports Chaplaincy Table

Over the last fifteen months, the men and women of the Sports Chaplaincy Table of the In Sport Group, a network of sports ministries around the globe, have been collaborating to produce a set of recommendations for sports chaplaincy training agencies. We have sought to determine what would be the global standard for such training. After much correspondence, prayer, sharing of ideas, and editing, the recommendation below is the document we will now begin to share with those agencies in various nations. If you represent one such agency and would like to adopt these standards, please email me and I’ll be pleased to add you to our list of adherents to the standards.

There is soon to follow exciting news about a new and powerful delivery system for basic, introductory sport chaplaincy training that reflects these same standards.

A Recommendation from:
The Sports Chaplaincy Table of the In Sport Group
International Sports Coalition

The Chaplaincy Table respectfully submits the following recommendation to all agencies that train, certify, and place sports chaplains all across the globe.
We have collaborated with many of the leading agencies and individuals who have decades of experience in training sports chaplains and we believe the set of items below constitute the global standard of comprehensive sports chaplaincy training.

We would be very pleased to see your organization join with the others listed below in committing to sports chaplaincy training which adheres to these standards. We will not presume to dictate the methods for training, nor the cultural nuances of the sports cultures in your nation.

Please prayerfully consider these training standards and contact us if you would like to join us in adopting them. We will refer inquiries about training that come through our network to the agencies that adopt these standards and develop training that is in keeping with them. We would also be privileged to collaborate with you in the design and implementation of such training.

I.             An Introduction to Sports Chaplaincy
It is wise to define what sports chaplaincy is, to state clearly what it is not, and to identify who and where sports chaplains serve.

II.           A Biblical Foundation to Sports Chaplaincy
It is critical to Christ-honoring service of sportspeople that the sports chaplain be well supported by scriptural principles and biblical models. The sports chaplain’s service is built upon Jesus’ Great Commandment and His Great Commission.

III.          A Profile of a Sportsperson
To serve well as a sport chaplain, one must have a clear understanding of those being served. To perceive the unique pressures, opportunities, challenges, and heart issues experienced in the world of sport enables the sports chaplain to wisely apply the truth of scripture and to care for the sportsperson.

IV.         A Profile of a Sports Chaplain
There is a particular set of character qualities, gifts, and experiences that make for the most effective service as a sports chaplain. This section of training would enlighten the trainee and catalyze his or her development as a sports chaplain.

V.          A Code of Conduct for Sports Chaplains
Where chaplaincy has been effectively modelled a tri-partite agreement between the sporting organisation, chaplain and local chaplaincy organisation has existed.  This module would look in detail at the code of conduct, assessing the roles of responsibilities not only of the chaplain, but of the sporting club/organisation being served and how they should inter relate with a chaplaincy body.  In particular the module would look at the importance of accountability in the execution of chaplaincy, guarding against the seductiveness and influence of elite sport.

VI.         A Sports Chaplain’s Relationships
The nurture and development of relationships is at the core of all ministry roles. To serve as a sports chaplain is no different. Understanding the unique attitudes and the power of being present is of tremendous value in sports chaplaincy. This element of training would inform the trainee of the most strategic relationships in sports cultures and how best to develop them.

VII.       Sports Chaplaincy Strategies
To serve effectively in the world of sport requires an understanding of one’s audience and prayerful consideration of the strategies and methods to be used. This section of training would inform the trainee about the wide variety of strategies and methods that may be employed and factors for wisely choosing them for his or her sporting environment.

VIII.     Resources for Sports Chaplains
The last several years have seen remarkable growth in resources for the development of sports chaplains and their ministries. Wise training would include resources for both the personal development of the sports chaplain as well as resources for direct use with the men and women the sports chaplain is serving. Resources could include books, periodicals, websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, films, and more.

IX.         Sports Chaplaincy in Critical Incidents and Crises
Depending upon one’s place of service, a critical incident or crisis could be a player’s retirement, a coach’s being fired, an injury, or even death. Excellent training for sport chaplains should include some basics for how to serve well in such situations.

X.          A Process for Beginning to Serve as a Sports Chaplain
Upon the completion of a training process, the prospective new sports chaplain still needs guidance related to the process for beginning to serve. Prescribing a step by step process is helpful to both the sports chaplain and to those he or she will serve. The process will vary widely depending upon the sport and culture being served, thus making this a most important factor for the earliest days of a sports chaplain’s service.

Please reply with our questions, your concerns, or with your desire to join us in committing to this standard of sports chaplaincy training.

Respectfully submitted by:
Roger D. Lipe – Chaplaincy Table Chair (Fellowship of Christian Athletes – USA)
Cameron Butler – (Sports Chaplaincy Australia)
Dr. Andrew Parker – (University of Gloucestershire – United Kingdom)
Ross Georgiou – (Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand)
Richard Gamble – (Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom)
Paul Kobylarz - (The Gathering Place - USA)
Andreas Anderson – (Sport for Life – Sweden)
Ken Cross – (Sports Chaplains Network – USA)
Bill Houston – (Sports Chaplains Roundtable – USA)
Hans-Günter Schmidts – (SRS Pro Sportler – Germany)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Best Day in Sport Chaplaincy

Here in my twenty-first season of serving Saluki Football (American Football at Southern Illinois University – USA), I experienced the best day of my whole career. On 13 September we were all set to play the Southeast Missouri State University Redhawks. They are a local rival for our team and we have enjoyed a history of competitive and interesting games the years. This year’s situation was quite unique and remarkable.

The Redhawks’ new head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator are all dear friends of mine and their team chaplain is my son. I have decades of relationship with these coaches and an obvious bond with my son. This is his first season of serving as team chaplain and he seems thrilled to be in the role.

As the day for this game approached I was flooded with mixed emotions and thoughts. I always want our team to win and to experience success, but I also want my dear friends and my son to do the same. It’s the nature of sport that when we meet, one will win and the other will lose. Game day arrived and I was suddenly freed of such internal conflicts.

My son and I consulted with each other about our chapel talks. We made plans to see each other during pregame warm up drills. I made plans to be on the field very early that day to soak it all in.

As I was on the field very early that afternoon, the head coach came in to do some radio interviews and we had some time for private conversation. I am so proud of him and how he has developed as a man who loves Jesus, a husband, a father, and as a football coach. I was able to encourage him for a little bit before the radio people were ready for him.

As pregame activities moved along, I spoke with the other coaches whom I have known for years. One played for our university and was a great competitor. Fourteen years ago, he and I prayed together for his mother as she had a cancerous brain tumor. I was at his wedding. I traveled to see him play in the Arena League and consulted with him numerous times as his coaching career has developed. The other coach and I also had a few moments to talk. He and I were roommates on road trips when he coached with us. We experienced some great and some terrible days of college football together. We celebrated his sobriety one afternoon as he reflected upon ten years free from drug and alcohol abuse. Warm hugs and pats on the back were the rule of the day. To stand with my son at midfield on a game day afternoon was rich and fulfilling.

Possibly the best part of the whole day was the way I finished each of these conversations. For me, this is the best part of sport. When one is privileged to have an opponent that is competent, respected, honorable, and loved elevates the sport to its best state. To look the coaches of our opponents for the day in the eye, to hug them strongly, and to say, “I love you and I am very proud of you,” is high privilege and made for my lifetime’s best experience in sport.

I would pray that each of us are so privileged, at least once, to have an experience in sport that is so full of love, respect, and honorable competition.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Notes on Coaching Staff Transitions

The month of November in the USA not only ushers in thoughts of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is football coaching staff transition season. At every level of American football there have already been and will continue to be coaches resigning, retiring, and being fired. Below are some notes from 2007 related to how sports chaplains can help those we serve to navigate these turbulent waters effectively.

Related to the outgoing staff:
· If the staff was fired, understand that this feels like failure and a lot like death to them.
· Help the coaches to see this situation within the sovereignty of God. The Lord is not surprised by this.
· Understand that the transition is probably harder on the coach’s family than on the coach.
· Be available to them. They may not want much company, but if they welcome your presence, be there.
· Be prepared for the termination of some relationships. Some relationships will live beyond their tenure with your team, but others will cut off all ties to this place and you could be cut off as well. 
· Communicate respect and thankfulness for their time with your team as well as hope for their future. 
· Assure them of your prayers and availability to serve.
· Written communication is very good and can be an enduring encouragement to them. Send a card, an email and/or periodic text messages to stay in touch with them.

Related to the incoming staff:
· Pray for favor with the athletic administration and the new head coach.
· When a new head coach is announced, send a letter of congratulations immediately (keep it to one page).
· When the coach is settled into the office, get an appointment to welcome him/her and to offer your assistance. 
· Bring a gift (a book) that is reflective of your desired relationship with the coaching staff and team.
· A wise attitude is reflected in offering to do, “as much or as little as the head coach believes appropriate.”
· When discussing a role with the team one can reference his/her role with past coaching staffs, but don’t lock into those methods or activities exclusively. 
· Let the coach paint the parameters for your role and work to build trust and credibility from there.
· It is always wise to offer to serve with no strings attached. Guard your attitude from presumption.
· Come prepared to discern the coach’s perception of his/her, the staff and the team’s needs.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Radio Interview with @SalukiChaplain

On Monday of this week I was privileged to be a guest on our Head Football Coach’s weekly radio show, “Lennon Live.” Mike Reis, SIU’s radio voice for over 30 years, does the interview with me and Coach Dale Lennon adds some comments related to my service of Saluki Football for the past twenty seasons.

Here is a link to the almost 9 ½ minute interview. https://soundcloud.com/mikereis-siu/2014-rlipe-10-20-lennon-live I hope it is of value to you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Prayer in the Life of a Sportsperson

Occasionally I am privileged to speak at a local church. Sometimes I even get to speak about matters of faith and sport. One such occasion was this past Sunday at my home church, Lakeland Baptist Church, in Carbondale, Illinois (USA). I spoke about Prayer in a sportsperson’s life. The talk included many aspects of a sportsperson’s life and how prayer may be helpful in it.

This is a link to the site where I have been posting prayers for people in sport to use. http://prayerinsport.blogspot.com/  

As Jesus gave His disciples a model for prayer, we must also provide some models to assist them as they learn to pray and to thereby welcome the Lord Jesus into each day’s training, conditioning, and competition. I hope the prayers are of some benefit to you and those you serve.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity

In light of the dramatic increase in academic research activity and practical initiatives on the topic of sports and Christianity over the last decade, the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at York St John University (YSJU), York, UK are hosting an Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity (IGCSC), 24-28th August, 2016. The Bible Society and YSJU are collaborating in the development and delivery of this global event.

Keynote Speakers include Professors Stanley Hauerwas, Shirl Hoffman, Michael Novak, Bishop James Jones and Anne-Wafula Strike MBE.

York St John University campus is at the heart of the beautiful and historic city of York (see http://www.visityork.org/).

A part of the congress is a sport-themed service in York Minster, one of Europe’s finest cathedrals  (see http://www.yorkminster.org/home.html).

The attached Pdf. Brochure and website provide further information on the congress: http://www.yorksj.ac.uk/health--life-sciences/faculty-of-hls/faculty-events/igcsc.aspx  

If you are interested in receiving further information about this event, email the congress convener, Dr Nick J. Watson (igcsc2016@yorksj.ac.uk), who will add you to an email-contact list.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Student-athlete Testimony

On occasion, I am privileged to hear one of the student-athletes in whom I invest my life express his or her faith in a unique way. One such instance occurred a couple of weeks ago as we held a Fellowship of Christian Athletes large group meeting on campus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. This was the first one we have even tried to do in the twenty years of our service with the university’s student-athletes and coaches.

The notes below are from the talk prepared by a senior swimmer from Wisconsin who has been attending weekly FCA meetings in my home since she was a freshman. It has been a joy to watch her develop in every facet of her life. I trust you’ll sense some of that development and the process of it in the notes. I am very proud of Holly and her heart-felt, candid talk with her teammates and other peers.

My Faith in Sport
·        Holly Johnson - Senior, Major-Science
·        Thank Roger and my FCA members for this opportunity to speak none the less at the premier large group meeting, very much along the theme of this as a night of firsts, this is also my first time speaking about my faith in sport. It really makes you think about what you believe when you will be sharing these thoughts with an audience of young adults.
·        Before I dive into the thick of it, I’d like to take a few moments to highlight my favorite things about FCA.
o   Number one is the relaxing environment- I look forward to being able to sit among people I am comfortable and discuss ideas that aren’t brought up in my chemistry class, without having to worry about whether or not there is a solutions manual online.
o   The people- Roger is the man, Sharon is a domestic diva (there is food, and I’m not sure if it is my age or my sport, but I have no shame in eating more servings than the football players, and I have connected with athletes that I wouldn’t have otherwise even thought to say hi to in passing.
o   The conversation- outlooks on things I couldn’t understand on my own, people sharing their individual wisdom to provoke thinking of the entire group.
o   The understanding. As college athletes our lives are demanding, and even though it may seems like an easy commitment especially when there are delicious desserts involved 1 hour a week is one less hour you can spend on studying or Netflix if we are being realistic. So there have been many times over my three years so far that I have missed a Tuesday or maybe a couple in a row, but what I truly love about this group is that they understand, no questions asked and welcome you back with open arms and sometimes peach cobbler.
·        Now, I’d like to discuss my faith and how it has helped shape my athletic career.
o   For the majority of my life thus far I believed what I was told and sat in religion class, thinking its only purpose was to make us suffer in the best way they could imitate Jesus having to cross the desert with people that doubted him so many years ago.
o   But at some point in the previous few years, it finally clicked. I decided that I didn’t have to believe the same exact things that were written in some book of catholic rules for how to kneel on a tiny bench thing and not look uncomfortable, but instead that I could take all the knowledge I had gathered from different people, events, and the Bible to decide what it all meant to me. After figuring this out, the rest seemed so simple.   From my interpretation, everything came down to the idea that there is something out there bigger than myself. I like to refer to that something as a someone and call him/or her God. I owe these realizations not only to FCA, but to swimming.
o   As I stand behind the blocks before a race there are many things running through my head. For example, dang these straps are really tight, boy is that last 25 going to a hurt, I wonder what new flavors they have at Chill, why did I pick a sport that has me half naked waiting to flail until my muscles give out in a freezing pool of shame and chemicals, you get the idea. But before my best races, there is always one thing on my mind. This happened for the first time my sophomore year at our midseason invite, I was standing behind the blocks blasting Spanish music to liven the mood when I started contemplating how lucky I was. I was truly happy, I felt loved and secure, and I knew I was about to have a great race, and I did. I decided, this overwhelming feeling of contentment was a product of my faith. Now, as I compete for my final season, my faith is greater than ever. I am so overcome with thankfulness for the opportunity to swim at this level surrounded by people that have a common goal. I owe everything I have to the great mastermind behind constructing this horrible but wonderful world we live in. After attributing my success in and out of the pool and my newfound mental toughness as an athlete, to my faith,  I began to use this to help myself become a better friend and team mate.
o   As an individual sport, swimming can be cut throat. It is easy to blame your failures on your coaches, but ultimately the pressure is always on yourself. In the same competitive way, teammates can lose site of the camaraderie aspect and lean toward selfish tendencies. As an athlete that now relies on her beliefs and upstairs onlooker to get her though the day, it becomes easier to put things in perspective. Just taking a few moments to reflect on a situation whether good or bad, is a type of patience that counts on faith. When I think about how much I love my team mates, even though I know one of them just skipped half of warm up, or beat me in a race, or took my spot on a relay that is because of my faith. It taught me that the love I have experienced for my team and for the sport is the most real emotion a person can have. And that feeling is why we all show up for “20” hours of practice a week and feel blessed because of it. When you try to really capture how lucky we all are to be playing a sport at a division 1 university, decked out in free clothes, surrounded by people that want us to achieve our absolute best, it is impossible to deny that there is something else out there that really knows what’s up. In the big scheme of things my reliance on something that is more than I could ever be, keeps me humble and reassured. When you think about how many seconds or tenths of a second separate world class athletes from someone like myself, it’s almost laughable. That hilarity captures everything that seems unexplainable, and defines it in one word. Faith. Have I had doubts? Of course! Do I pray all the time and ask questions? Absolutely. But no matter what, my core beliefs never waiver.

o   My hope is that by sharing my thoughts today, you can walk away with a sense of confidence that this life we are living is about experiencing as much as we can before what comes next. In this way no experience is bad or good, but rather exactly what we needed to become who we are. As soon as you are confident in your beliefs, even the most major issues become trivial and swimming an event as terrifying as the 200 fly becomes a piece of cake.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thanks for your prayers!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for our work in Indianapolis last week. We were privileged to gather a great team of men and women from India, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, and from the USA they came in from Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina, Indiana, and Illinois. We worked long hours and experienced a tremendous amount of unity as we collaborated on a basic, introductory training course for sports chaplains that will be delivered in six one hour sessions. I am forever indebted to this excellent set of men and women for their excellent contributions and their loving partnership.

We received tremendous contributions from these organizations as well:
Traders Point Christian Church – Indianapolis, IN – our hosts
Sports Chaplaincy Australia
Sports Chaplains Network - USA
Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand
Sport for Life – Sweden
Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom
RBC Ministries and www.sport.org – USA
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Fellowship of Christian Athletes

The training will be comprised of a pdf to download which has the strong content of the training, an approximately five minute video to watch that will illustrate the main points of the session, and on screen instructions for the trainee. We worked hard to keep the language very basic as we believe most of our trainees will be second language English speakers. We also aim to keep the documents brief and the video short in duration, being mindful that not everyone on the planet has high speed Internet. We aimed to be user friendly for our friends who are working at old school, dial up Internet speeds.

As we outlined last week, the training consists of these primary categories to be delivered in one hour sessions:
1.   Introduction / Profile of Sportspeople
2.   A Biblical Foundation for Sport Chaplain Ministry
3.   Profile of a Sport Chaplain / Code of Conduct for Sport Chaplains
4.   A Sport Chaplain’s Relationships
5.   Serving as a Sport Chaplain in Critical Incidents and Crises
6.   A Sport Chaplain’s Strategies, Methods, Resources, and a Process for Beginning

A little bit of final editing will be done over the next few weeks to gain continuity of format, page design, etc. and to check spelling, grammar, and other items of detail. We aim to do this with excellence.

I will be presenting the content of our work during the InSport meetings of our Sports Ministry network during meetings in Orlando, FL in November. Once it is finalized, approved, and then loaded onto the website, I will be sure to inform you of the address. We would then be thrilled to have you include it in your training, to link to it from your web site, and to use it in other ways that benefit the growth of this sort of ministry around the world. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Please join us in Prayer

Please join me in prayer for the very important meetings that will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA next week. From Monday through Friday, a number of men and women from all around the world will be gathered at Traders Point Christian Church to gather, assemble, simplify, and prepare a set of training materials that will set a global standard for the most basic training for people to serve as Sport Chaplains.

This training material will be hosted on-line with a set of instructions (on pdf) to read, some on screen information to lead the process, and a video for each section which informs, inspires, and illustrates the written material.

A general outline for the materials is below. Please pray that we may present something that is worthy of Christ Jesus, is respectful of a wide spectrum of sport and cultural distinctions, and is easily understood from anywhere on the planet. Thanks.

Six one hour sessions of training material in these categories:
1.   Introduction / Profile of Sportspeople
2.   A Biblical Foundation for Sport Chaplain Ministry
3.   Profile of a Sport Chaplain / Code of Conduct for Sport Chaplains
4.   A Sport Chaplain’s Relationships, Attitudes, and Presence
5.   Serving as a Sport Chaplain in Critical Incidents and Crises

6.   A Sport Chaplain’s Strategies, Methods, Resources, and a Process for Beginning 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ministry in European Athletics (Track and Field)

Stuart Weir of Verité Sport in the United Kingdom has a unique way of serving sportspeople as a chaplain. He works in the twin roles of sports journalist and sports chaplain in the world of athletics (track and field for us Yanks). Last week Stuart sent me a note that I thought had insight worth sharing with you. I hope it is of value to you and to those you serve.


The longer I do this ministry in Track and Field - with no official role of status but with:
1. Opportunity to lead 8 Bible Studies at events this year;
2. Literally 100s of conversations
3. Unofficial recognition and encouragement by British Athletics...

The more I recognize the importance of knowing when to be there and when to leave.  Much of my work involves sitting in hotel receptions (lobbies).  Knowing when to leave, when I have stopped ministering and have become a pain - ie athletes feel they have to talk to me to entertain me, is very important.

Just a thought


J Stuart Weir
19 The Glebe

+44 1865 864265
Mob +44 7710 800539