Friday, May 30, 2014

Men, Ministry, Movement, Murmuring, Administration, Multiplication

On 4 May of this year I emailed several of our colleagues around the world who were to join me in Hong Kong for some sport chaplaincy training and conversation about setting a global standard for training sport chaplains. The first paragraph of my email was as follows, “We stand on the threshold of a monumental shift in the sport chaplaincy movement around the world. We are some of the most privileged men on the planet as we get to shape the next years and probably decades of this movement. If that language seems a little grandiose, you probably just don’t understand the gravity of our work together in the Lord’s vineyard of global sport.”

I was aware that the statement could be perceived as very broad and maybe a little over the top, but I was convinced that it was true. As I was contemplating the results of our meetings in Hong Kong yesterday, I was reminded of a process I learned from my mentor, Fred Bishop, many years ago. As we worked together in No Greater Love Ministries, Fred would speak of the process seen in Acts chapters 1-6 which he calls “Men, Ministry, Movement, Murmuring, Administration, and Multiplication.” A simple explanation and application of this process follows.

Men – Acts 1:12-13
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying:
Peter, John,
James, Andrew,
Philip, Thomas,
Bartholomew, Matthew,
James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon the Zealot,
and Judas the son of James.

After Jesus’ resurrection, these men remained in Jerusalem and were gathered together.

Ministry – Acts 1:14-15
14 All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary[d] the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.
15 During these days Peter stood up among the brothers—the number of people who were together was about 120—

These men, and Mary, were continually united in prayer and continued in ministry in Jerusalem. Their number had grown to 120 and they were at the threshold of movement.

Movement – Acts 2:37-41
37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction[m] and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off,[n] as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt[o]generation!”
41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.

On the day of Pentecost, these 120 were praying in an upper room when the Holy Spirit fell upon them and radically transformed their ministry into a movement. The 120 became about 3,120 in one day. Their devotion to teaching, to fellowship, to sharing their resources, and to prayer were continuing evidences of the movement which was afoot.

Murmuring – Acts 6:1

In those days, as the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews[a] against the Hebraic Jews[b] that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.

The movement which began in Acts chapter 2 continues throughout chapters 3, 4, and 5 with remarkable power and even some bumps in the road, such as are common to movements. One of the unintended consequences of exponential growth is the potential for dissension, for conflict, and for murmuring. This occurred in the Acts movement at chapter 6 and verse 1 as the Greek speaking widows had feelings of alienation in the Church.

Administration – Acts 6:2-6

Then the Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, “It would not be right for us to give up preaching about God to handle financial matters.Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry.” The proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte from Antioch. They had them stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The continuation of the movement was in jeopardy as the murmuring exposed a tear in the fabric of the Church. The wisdom given to the Twelve by the Holy Spirit is revealed by their decision to administrate a way to serve all those in the Church well. Rather than to neglect their primary callings, they chose seven men who were predisposed to serve the Hellenistic widows well. Their wise administration and their conferring the apostles’ authority upon them set the Church up to continue its movement. A pleasant surprise awaited them.

Multiplication – Acts 6:7

So the preaching about God flourished, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

Because the apostles remained true to their calling, rather than serving tables, the preaching about God flourished. The result of their wise administration was that the number of disciples multiplied greatly. Back at chapter 2 and verses 41 and 47, it was said that the number of disciples were added to daily. At chapter 6 and verse 1 it says the number of disciples was being multiplied, but now their number is multiplying greatly. Exponential growth was enabled because of the wise administration of the apostles, as the Holy Spirit supplied His power to their lives.

In the early 1970s, I was a witness to and an active participant in the Jesus Movement in the United States. It was birthed along the west coast and made its way across the nation. Explo 72, a very large event in Dallas, Texas that summer was probably the signature moment in the movement and furthered its growth. As a 16 year old wrestler, I was enthralled by the energy, passion, and culture of the movement. Like many movement, it followed the Men, Ministry, Movement, and Murmuring segments of the process, but this movement seemed to stall prior to wise Administration.

There was much murmuring in the Church as most of the established churches were either not able or not willing to receive the tremendous number of young people whose lives were being transformed. Born again hippies with long hair, bell bottom jeans, and no sense of church culture were not well received on the whole. Some churched administrated wisely and welcomed these new believers, while other groups simply formed new churches which specialized and formed new cultures in the Lord’s Kingdom. Most notably in the USA were Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard.

We who live in the Sport Chaplaincy movement are quite similar to the movements in the book of Acts and the Jesus Movement in the USA. We have had Men in ministry for decades, mostly serving in an isolated manner with a few faithful colleagues. We have seen many of them gather for ministry and have witnessed remarkable results. In recent years, there has been a sense of movement to our work together around the world. Organizations like Sports Chaplaincy Australia, Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom, Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand, Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and others have experienced growth in this expression of ministry, most without even trying. This has the feel of a movement.

We have also experienced murmuring as at various times people see the movement from widely different perspectives. Some academics view the vast majority of sports chaplaincy practitioners as terribly unqualified. Many practitioners view the academics as irrelevant as they perceive them to not be actively engaged in the process. Some sports ministry leaders view sports chaplaincy to be of little import, while others want to control it. Movements generally resist control, but respond well to wise administration.

I believe that our work together in Hong Kong, our wide association with sport chaplaincy practitioners, sports ministry leaders, academics, and other experts puts our movement in the process of wise administration. We are doing the stuff of Acts chapter 6 at this very moment. If we are used of the Holy Spirit to wisely shape our movement with a global standard for training and development of sport chaplaincy, we should expect to see the Lord Jesus greatly multiply the number of disciples in sport around the world.

Please join me in praying for the development and wise administration of our service together. Let’s ride the wave of this movement as long as the Lord will carry us.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Heart of a Chaplain - Richard Gamble

During the days of 13 and 14 May, I was privileged and honored to be a part of some Sport Chaplaincy training that occurred in Hong Kong, China. I joined Ross Georgiou from Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand, Andrew Parker from the University of Gloucestershire, Cameron Butler from Sports Chaplaincy Australia, and Richard Gamble from Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom as we led a couple of days and one evening of training for over sixty people. One part of that training was a presentation by Richard Gamble of Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom titled, Heart of a Chaplain. My notes from Richard’s excellent and insightful presentation are below. I hope they are of value to you.

Sport Culture
  • ·        Performance is Everything.
  • ·        Sportspeople form their own morality.
  • ·        They see no consequences.
  • ·        They often are controlling and manipulative.

The Chaplain’s Place in Sport Culture
  • ·        The bottom of the ladder (no importance)
  • ·        In the world, not of it.
  • ·        Valuing people over performance

A Servant’s Heart
  • ·        Waiting
  • ·        Listening
  • ·        Not doing

A Pastor’s Heart
  • ·        Compassion with no agenda
  • ·        Communicating without moving your lips

  • ·        Consistent
  • ·        Continuous
  • ·        Relationship building

  • ·        We are “always a guest.”
  • ·        Never asking for anything.
  • ·        Never self-promoting.

  • ·        Trust is essential.
  • ·        Absolute silence is required.

  • ·        What is Jesus already doing in the club?
  • ·        He may be at work independently of my service.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Cadence of Decade Rhythm

Earlier this week, I was privileged and honored to be a part of some Sport Chaplaincy training that occurred in Hong Kong, China. I joined Ross Georgiou from Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand, Andrew Parker from the University of Gloucestershire, Cameron Butler from Sports Chaplaincy Australia, and Richard Gamble from Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom as we led a couple of days and one evening of training for over sixty people. I will offer more details in an upcoming report.

One of the most advantageous and informative ideas I gathered from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Institute in 1999 and 2000 was A Cadence of Decade Rhythm. I have searched long and hard for its origin, but cannot find it. I would love to make attribution to its author, but cannot locate him or her. If you know, please inform me.

The idea is that the progressing decades of one’s lifetime have particular functions and characteristics. Certain matters of life best fit one decade, but seem to be a poor fit in others. Don’t choke on the generality of this model, but simply take the rhythm as it is intended, as a rhythm. Try to stay in step as your life dances along. I hope this is helpful to you and to those you serve.

A Cadence of Decade Rhythm

Birth to 10 = Memories
·        In the first decade of our lives, every day is full of activity, new experiences, and memories, wonderful and painful.
11 to 20 = Mischief
·        This decade of life is usually full of mischief of all sorts and I won’t presume to list mine, nor to expose yours.
21 - 30 = Majors
·        A person in his or her twenties is normally making decisions about career, family, spouse, home, and other major phases of life. In this process, one also learns about success and failure, experimenting widely to determine what roles and situations best fit him or her.
31 - 40 = Mastery
·        Hopefully, once a person is in his or her thirties, the field of opportunities and interests has narrowed a bit and he or she identifies one thing to master. This person finds a great sense of purpose and joy in this role or task that he or she masters.
41 - 50 = Multiplication
·        Having mastered something, a person in this decade turns his attention to multiplying this mastered quality into the lives of others similarly gifted and trained. This decade is less about the multiplier and more about the others being developed.
51 + = Mentoring
·        The others centered decade of one’s forties prepares one to be a mentor. One in his or her fifties is suddenly afforded the respect necessary to mentor effectively. Prior to this, a person attempting to mentor others is seem to be a pretender. As one ages and stays engaged, the mentor’s wisdom, experience, and expertise only grow in effectiveness with those in the process of Majors, Mastery, and Multiplication.

In using this model with others, my emphasis has been upon the freedom within each decade. Give the youngest ones lots of freedom to make memories and do so purposefully. Allow the teens a little room for mischief, but not so much that it kills them. Help those making major decisions along the course of their twenties enough freedom to fail, to try out new roles, to experiment with challenging experiences. This is how they learn their areas of mastery. Help those mastering something the freedom to abandon some roles and responsibilities that become less central to their areas of mastery. Help those who begin to multiply by connecting them to others with similar interests and passions. Feed their lives with people making major life decisions and those beginning to master similar matters. Finally, free those younger than fifty from the compulsion to mentor. Prior to their fiftieth birthday, they may simply find frustration for their efforts. For those who have passed birthdays # 50 and beyond, find ways to keep them involved with those younger. Rather than shuffling them off to the senior citizens classes, shuffleboard games, and retirement villages, keep them engaged with those whom they can mentor, lead, and advise. Their experience is invaluable and their wisdom can save everyone involved from errors and frustration.

Feel the rhythm of this decade cadence. I pray that the decades of your life dance along with joyful movement.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Conflicts in Collegiate Sport

Recent events in the world of sport in the USA has brought some attention to the conflict between collegiate sport’s ethos, what it says it believes, and its pathos, the way it actually operates. The conflict is demonstrated in a number of ways I have observed. I will make an effort to outline some of these issues, how they intersect our work as sport chaplains, character coaches, and sport mentors. I will also aim to simply state the nature of the conflict. I won’t presume to have an answer to solving the conflict, but seek only to help us understand the situation and to serve wisely in the midst of such tension.


Ethos (what we say we believe)  //  Pathos (how we actually operate)


Ethos = Amateurism  //  Pathos = Professionalism


Ethos = “student-athletes”  //  Pathos = professional athletes


I have watched the growth in this conflict as coaches’ salaries have skyrocketed and student-athletes’ lifestyles have remained largely unchanged. I have seen the NCAA compliance officers at universities obsess over whether to allow a bagel to be covered with cream cheese or peanut butter; one being forbidden, the other deemed more nutritious and therefore suitable. I have seen the Final Four, run by the same cream cheese obsessed organization, make billions in revenue on the backs of their “amateur” student-athletes. We have recently seen the uproar caused by a recently retired student-athlete at a prestigious university seeking to unionize his team’s football players so they can collectively bargain for benefits, marketing rights, insurance, and presumably for cash. The International Olympic movement dealt with their conflicts between amateurism and professionalism over thirty years ago by allowing professional sportspeople to compete openly, no longer pretending that many or most of those in their movement were simply in disguise as amateurs, but operating as professionals.


We who live among, serve with, and care for the people of sport are daily subject to the tension wherein they live. Most simply complain about it, not even thinking about the source of the conflict they feel. Many more take sides in the conflict and amplify the arguments with their own personal experiences of the broken nature of collegiate sport. We would do well to both understand and to help them find ways to navigate these turbulent waters in a Christ-honoring way.


I believe that much of the conflict can be understood by the inherent folly in a Greek, dualistic mindset which separates the holy from the profane, the upper from the lower, the amateur from the professional. Much of our culture will declare one group as heroes (amateur student-athletes) while also vilifying another group (professionals athletes). Many, mostly sports fans, will turn a blind eye to the excesses of their regional collegiate sports programs, but will sling mud and aspersions toward the professional clubs and players a thousand miles away. In fact, there is little difference between the two.


Greek Dualism  //  Integrated Holism


I believe that a better approach to the whole world of sport is integrated holism. Rather than seeing people as being compartmentalized into body, mind, and spirit with little or no connection between them, seeing the competitor as a whole person with every part being integral to the function of every other part, is much more Biblical and wise. A brief reading of Genesis 1 and 2, Ephesians 4 and 5, would inform the reader in God’s view of how we function. We are created as integrated, whole persons, not as compartmentalized, fragmented persons. I believe this model best informs the best and most God-honoring organizations as well. Our ethos and pathos must become fully integrated so as to eliminate conflicts, internal and external, individual and corporate.


As we serve people who live in this tension, let’s help them integrate their ethos and pathos. If they hold tightly to an amateur ethic, let’s help them develop wise practices that are in keeping with their ethic. If they are professionals, let’s help them be at their best and to pursue honorable, consistent, and wise processes with people. If they live in an environment which straddles the line, let’s help them walk through the mine field of tension and conflict with grace and wisdom, seeking Jesus’ way to their goals.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wise service in a public college or university

Serving as a sport chaplain or character coach in public colleges and universities in the United States is a tremendous privilege and is like walking a tightrope at 1,000 feet. We are in a remarkable position to affect the lives of hundreds of student-athletes each year, as well as the coaches who lead them, and the support staff members that assist them. We also have a wide range of people and organizations that hate what we do and would rather we not be there.


Recent events in a few high profile university sports programs are emblematic of the struggle between the forces of sports ministries and other organizations that would seek to marginalize these ministries, to banish them from their areas of service, to expose them as frauds or to otherwise diminish their effectiveness.


A few years ago, one of my colleagues drew national media attention and more than desired scrutiny regarding from where the money came to run his ministry, why he wasn’t required to pay for his travel expenses with the team he served, on and on and on. This caused quite a stir in the community and only made his service of the team more complex, more costly, and raised suspicions for many.


More recently, another prominent football program (American Football) and its head coach became the subject of a law suit by an organization seeking freedom from religion in public universities and society at large. This tempest in a tea pot of a story was covered by ESPN, various national and local news organizations, and fomented for a few days with varying consequences. I was informed that the issue had little or no effect with the program and coach in question, but just the story and the fears it raised questions all the way across the continent. Another state university, this one in the western USA, informed their volunteer sport chaplain that he could no longer hold Bible studies, team chapels, or any other activities that were religious in nature. Just the aroma of controversy was enough to intimidate this administration into excluding the team chaplain.


I spoke with a number of people; chaplains, character coaches, players, and others about this situation. My thoughts as to how we should approach these issues follow here:

  1. Don’t overreact. These situations are normally a matter of someone reacting in fear and ignorance. If we react in kind, we lose. If we take a slower, less reactionary approach to the issue, we normally do better.
  2. Focus on the relationships with those who allow us to serve. Most of us serve at the pleasure of the head coach. Focus on that relationship. Speak with him or her directly. Determine his or her values and ensure the coach that we’re here to serve those specifically; no more and no less.
  3. Be sure to honor and respect the parameters outlined by the head coach. Be 100% compliant with schedules, time constraints, compliance rules, and other guidelines given you by the head coach and those he or she designates to work with you.
  4. Be wise about the nature of your public profile. You should be aware of your community’s culture and the level of notoriety appropriate for your position with the team. Think critically about questions like these: Should you appear in the team’s media guide and web site? Is it appropriate to be recognized in public as a part of the coaching staff? Is it proper for you to be included in recruiting events? The danger is that when our public profile raises among faithful Christian people, we will also be more exposed to those who would find our service to be inappropriate, foolish, or even unconstitutional.
  5. Build a relationship with your school’s NCAA compliance officer. Rather than hiding from these people, build a trusting relationship by asking them about what they require of you re: student-athletes, how they would like to communicate, and how you can be partners in serving the school’s student-athletes. They are used to having adversarial relationships with the coaching staff, don’t fall into that trap.


These are some simple, but important points of emphasis as we serve in the progressively more secularized general culture in the USA and even more radically so in public universities. Let’s join Jesus in being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”