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.