Friday, March 28, 2014

As working for the Lord

Our friend and colleague, Stuart Weir of Verité Sport in the United Kingdom, does a tremendous job of integrating scripture with sport in his writing. One example is below. I highly recommend Stuart’s web site, the various publications he has done and made available as free downloads, and his weekly devotional thoughts to which you may subscribe.
As working for the Lord

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

Some people describe this as having “an audience of one”, the idea that our focus as we compete is to be on God. We are not running (playing) for ourselves as much as for Jesus.

If you take your sport seriously, inevitably a great deal of your identity as a person is in your sport – why else would you put so many hours into training?

But don’t misunderstand Paul here. He is not saying that sport (or whatever you do) is unimportant – and only “religious” things matter. Quite the contrary!

Paul is saying that whatever you do (and for you that probably involves training and competition), you are to do it for the Lord. Did you get that, because you are a Christian, sport – competition and training – are more important, not less.

Did you think you just had to train enough to satisfy the coach? Wrong! You are training not just for yourself or for the coach but for Jesus!

I find the way the South African swimmer Penny Heyns puts it very helpful: 'I love the sense of satisfaction that I get when I've done a swimming workout or race, and know that I gave my whole being and heart to God in every moment of the swim. It's the best worship I can offer him.'

So get out there and “work at it with all your heart” for Jesus.

Stuart Weir

Verité Sport

Friday, March 21, 2014

Environments and Instruments for Worship

Which of these is a proper environment for worship of the Lord Jesus?

  • A 25 meter competitive swimming pool or an ornate church sanctuary?
  • A gothic cathedral or a modern 45,000 seat baseball stadium?
  • A passion-filled football stadium or a fresco-covered basilica?
  • An eight lane athletics track or a simple altar in a country church?
  • A wonderfully appointed and equipped weight training room or a quaint outdoor shrine?
  • A football pitch with a brand new goal and net or a home’s front room with a small Bible study group?


Which of these is a proper instrument for worship of the Lord Jesus?

  • A large pipe organ or a football helmet?
  • A black leather baseball glove or a beautiful 6 string guitar?
  • A set of drums or the long jump path and pit?
  • A fiberglass backboard with an orange rim and net or a perfectly tuned grand piano?
  • A pair of maracas for percussion or a white leather volleyball for digging, passing, setting, and hitting?
  • A set of lacrosse equipment or a set of percussion instruments?

How did you answer? Did you get stuck in the “Either this or that?” Did you prefer to answer, “Both this and that?” Chances are if you are over forty years of age, you struggled with the dichotomy. If you’re under forty, you probably find the “both and” answer easier to manage. If you love sport and you love Jesus, I really hope you land solidly on, “Both!”


The arenas and the equipment of sport are equally worthy places and instruments of worship as are the more accepted environments and machinery of more traditional worship forms. Equally worthy, less easily accepted and understood.


I would challenge you to free people to experience the Lord Jesus’ presence and His intimate pleasure as much in the world of sport as we encourage them to in church services, prayer meetings, worship events, and devotional reading. Let’s fully integrate our Christian faith into every facet of the lives of sportspeople and we’ll see their worlds transformed by Christ’s presence and power, in us.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Forgotten People in Sport

All through this weekend I’ve been at a state high school basketball tournament. On this weekend the four remaining teams from across the state’s elimination (one off) tournament meet in a flurry of games between both boys and girls teams. My son is officiating four games during the weekend. It is his first assignment to this most prestigious tournament and is likely the apex of this officiating career. Seeing him serve so well in this role makes me more aware than ever that sports officials are the most forgotten or overlooked people in sports ministry.
In my earlier days, I was a wrestling official for thirteen years. Those years coincided with the development of my view that faith and sport should be integrated, rather than compartmentalized. I approached my role as an official with prayer, intense preparation, and careful scrutiny. That approach led to my rapid ascent in the ranks of high school officials in my state and I was in line to work the state finals, as my son just has, but I chose to prioritize watching him play basketball each winter to watching everyone else’s children wrestle, make good money, and enjoy the satisfaction of excellence in sport officiating. That was a hard decision.
I’d like to challenge us all to pay a bit more attention to the referees, the umpires, the linesmen, and other sports officials. Let’s not chime in with the loud rants of complaining about their judgments (though I must confess to doing this) and let’s rather keep in mind that they are people with immortal souls who need to know the Lord Jesus. Let’s also be mindful that some of them are already believers in Christ and may be, as I was, seeking to honor Him by how they arbitrate their sport. Let’s pray that they do their craft well, that they respect the coaches, competitors, and other officials, and that they do all they can to honor the sport and its loving Creator.

Friday, March 7, 2014

FCA Sport Chaplain / Character Coach Conference

The fifth Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sport Chaplain / Character Coach Conference wrapped up yesterday in Kansas City, Missouri at the FCA National Support Center. About 50 sport chaplains and character coaches from all across the USA were in attendance. A large number of our group were FCA staff people and Athletes in Action staffers, but a great portion of the group were volunteers serving teams in universities or high schools. We also had the largest number of women in attendance of any of our conferences. Our conferees ranged from Minnesota to Florida and Oregon to Maryland.



Jon Randles, a long-term team chaplain, church pastor, conference speaker, and consultant was the chaplain to our chaplains. I made a presentation of the basics of sport chaplaincy based on the FCA Sport Chaplains training manual. Marla Williams, a sport chaplain from Georgia Tech, presented a tremendous talk about sexual brokenness among sportspeople. I hope to share her outline with you in future days as it was outstanding. I facilitated a panel discussion with veteran sport chaplains about how to form chapel talks. We also had a panel discussion wherein we fielded questions from conferees and answered them directly.

FCA’s three-part strategy for the development of sport chaplains and character coaches includes: Training, Networking, and Mentoring. We structured the event with lots of open space for not only training to occur, but for the networking and mentoring. Each of these seemed to be done very well. Jeff Martin and Dan Bishop, both vice presidents of FCA’s ministry, participated as facilitators during the conference and Jordan Barnes lent outstanding logistical support. FCA’s CEO and President, Les Steckel, spoke to the group as well.
We will be watching to see where sport chaplaincy is booming in the USA as we plan next year’s conference. We will plan to host that conference in that region of the country so as to encourage it, to nurture its growth and to simply honor what we see the Lord Jesus doing in that area. I hope it’s in your home town.