Thursday, February 27, 2014

Long-term, relational service of sportspeople

Today I’d like to share some thoughts about the value of long-term, relational service with sportspeople. I awoke this morning to a richly rewarding facebook message from a young man in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We met in 2009 at a Tae Kwon Do club where he was an aspiring TKD competitor in training. I had brought a friend and colleague to San Pedro Sula from Tegucigalpa via bus, complete with stomach distress and death defying roads. My friend is a 5th degree black belt, a member of the Martial Arts Hall of fame, and a tremendous trainer. Our host a the club was very gracious and welcomed us warmly. He kindly received the sport devotional book we gave him and translated a page of it from English to Spanish for his students while we were there.
Among those TKD students was the young man from whom I received the following message. “My dear friend I’m writing you from Honduras. I was a taekwondo athlete. Now I’m a man of god. I’m in a dilemma. How I can take my sport taekwondo with design and path that god is leading me now? I need your advice and wisdom I really appreciate this. Huge hug from Honduras.”
I was thrilled to receive the message and replied with the thoughts below, copying my friend the 5th degree black belt. “Bendiciones, mi hermano. Gracias para tu mensaje maravilloso. (Blessings, my brother. Thank you for your wonderful message.)
  1. Meditate upon these scriptures: Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:23, I Corinthians 9:24-27.
    2. Pray, dedicating Tae Kwon Do to the Lord Jesus. Ask Him to enable you to compete in His name and to His glory.
3) Consider how you may make TKD training an act of worship. Expect to experience the Lord's presence as you train and compete. Expect to experience His pleasure with you as you train and compete.”
We met this young man and spoke maybe twice, several years ago. We left the devotional book. Its use was emphasized by the club’s coach and some of the club’s highest achieving competitors. A couple of years later, I took a number of the books to them in Spanish. We have been facebook friends for a few years now, occasionally sending a message or liking his photos from competitions. He’s on my list for weekly devotions in Spanish and he sees my daily posts of devotional thoughts for sportspeople in Spanish.
Even with these seemingly weak, distant, and infrequent methods of ministry, he has become “a man of God.” It’s like Jesus’ example in the parable. The man sows the seed on the ground and goes to bed. He awakens the next day and the seed has sprouted, all by itself. We sowed the seed of the Gospel years ago and with little personal nurture, it has developed into “a man of God.” Please commit yourself and your ministry to long-term, relational service to the people of sport and trust the Lord’s mighty Spirit to nurture and develop the seeds planted, even years and thousands of miles away.

Friday, February 21, 2014

FCA Sport Chaplain / Character Coach Conference - 4-6 March, 2014

Coming up on 4-6 March at the FCA National Support Center in Kansas City, Missouri will be the fifth annual FCA Sport Chaplains Conference. We would love to have you attend. Its cost is very reasonable and it’s built in such a way as to enrich the ministries of those who are already serving as well as to inform and prepare those who are just beginning.
Among the featured items are a presentation from Marla Williams, who serves with teams at Georgia Tech University, regarding sexual brokenness among sportspeople. We all encounter this issue, but few of us have a biblical understand of how to deal with it. This will be outstanding. I will be making a presentation on the most basic fundamentals of serving as a sport chaplain or character coach. The chaplain to our chaplains will be John Randles, who is a dynamic communicator with experience and insight for our teammates. We’ll also feature a panel discussion with a broad range of men and women with years of experience in such ministry sharing their wisdom in answering your direct questions.
One of the best things about how this conference is structured is that we build in time for small group discussions of each session as well as lots of “space” in the schedule to allow for informal conversations over coffee, lunch, and a whole evening at dinner together in Kansas City restaurants.
Please make plans to join us in Kansas City. Your ministry will be enhanced, your heart will be encouraged, and your soul will be enriched. I promise. Be sure to get registered prior to March 1. Registration information is attached, below, and at this site:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Using Technology in Sports Ministry

During the fall of 2009, I made a presentation to the Sport Chaplains Roundtable in Lansing, Michigan (USA) re: the use of technology in Sports Ministry. An outline of that presentation with some comments follows. I hope it is of value to you as you consider what technologies to employ and the values that shape how you use them.


Using Technology in Sports Ministry

• What to do? Which technologies can enhance our effectiveness in ministry with sportspeople?

• What should I NOT do? What is there about such technologies which could actually harm our ministries?

• How to do it? What are some values which should guide how we approach technological advances?

  • Email – many of us use email all the time, but it’s used less and less by people under 30 years of age.
  • SMS Text Messages – many people now prefer this mode of communication over all others.
  • Facebook – there are many ways to use this wisely and many more to use it foolishly.
  • Twitter – what of value can be expressed in 140 characters?
  • LinkedIn – with whom do you connect on this site?

Guidelines for use of technology:

  • Consider the purpose for your writing.
    • To encourage
    • To challenge
    • To console
    • To inspire
    • To inform


  • Use proper etiquette.
    • bcc: in emails – few things are more annoying (and insecure) than seeing hundreds of addresses in the header of an email.
    • Please use proper grammar – writing badly does not enhance your ministry nor does it inspire confidence in you.
    • Check spelling – this is pretty easy, but if not done can lead to embarrassment.
    • Use photos and video wisely – especially in international relationships. There are a number of ways to use photos poorly and thereby jeopardize one’s friends in oppressive countries.


  • Errors to avoid
    • Personal information of coaches or players – Don’t share personal information about sportspeople, ever.
    • Injury information – Your sharing of this kind of information can be used by gambling interests and in the USA is even illegal in itself.
    • Critical thoughts re: team, coaches or players – This is an express ticket to the loss of your privileges with the team or club.
    • Items meant to build your status – Don’t be a name dropper. Don’t post photos with high profile players.


  • Inspire and encourage
    • Coaches – speak to their hearts prior to competitions and then afterward.
    • Athletes – challenge them to be their best before game time and then either congratulate or console once you know the result.
    • Chaplains – lead and encourage your colleagues as you know they are preparing to share the Lord’s heart with those in his/her charge.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Seasons in Sport

It is the nature of the sport world to divide the annual calendar into various seasons, not Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, but pre-season, on season, post-season, and off season. It is helpful for those who serve people in sport to have a strategy for each of these seasons. Below are some brief thoughts about different sorts of initiatives one can undertake in each of your team’s seasons.


Pre-season: This is the perfect time to learn all you can about the people on your team. Work to meet everyone who works with the team. Learn the names of players, coaches, and the support staff like physios, athletic trainers, equipment managers, operations people, office staff, strength and conditioning coaches, etc… I would challenge you to memorize the whole roster of players’ names, uniform numbers, and home towns. This is the time to lay the relational foundations for the ministry opportunities that will follow.


On season: This is when you execute the plans you have made and you work to fit into the rhythm of the team’s life. Listen well for expressions of spiritual hunger and seize each opportunity as it arises. Pray for a sensitive heart and wise presence with the team.


Post-season: Should your team compete well enough to make it to a set of playoffs or a post-season tournament, enjoy the ride. Treat this as a new season with unique opportunities and work to help each one and the team collectively to finish well. Most of the time these tournaments are one off events and while each team thinks they’ll emerge as champions, only one will. Be very present and self-controlled in order to serve everyone, especially if the team is eliminated short of the championship.


Off season: The easiest thing to do in the off season is nothing. It is far better to use this time to rest, to evaluate, to plan, and to prepare for the future. It’s wise to meet with the head coach to discuss and to evaluate your service of the team. Ask the hard questions like: What worked well? What did you like that we did? What did you not like? What would you like to have me do more? What would you like to have me do less? What do you most value from my role? How can I serve you and the team better? Use the information gathered from this meeting to make plans and to prepare for the next pre-season.


The seasonal nature of sport can be of tremendous benefit to us if we’ll understand the unique nature of each season and its opportunities to serve and to grow our ministries. The dynamics and rhythm of sports’ seasons diminish monotony and enhance our anticipation of the Lord Jesus’ movement in the hearts and minds of the men and women we serve.