Friday, January 2, 2015

Worship and Sport

If we in the Church and in the Sports Ministry community value worship as much as we say we do, how many hours of any given week should be given to worship? It is a valid question for contemplation.

1.5 hours per week (an average church service) = 1.33% of a week's waking hours.

If we were to learn to worship God while engaged in sport, we who live in the sporting world could really live out our stated value.

20 hours of training and practice per week (The NCAA mandated training limit for collegiate sport in the USA) is almost 18% of one's waking hours. That is a much more appropriate portion of time to engage in worship and doesn't even include worship services, personal devotions, Bible studies, etc.

How do we develop a sense of the Lord Jesus' presence and pleasure; a consciousness of His lordship over sport and all our relationships in it? How shall we engage our minds, bodies, and spirits in worship as we train and compete? How can we encourage, inspire, lead, and challenge our teammates, coaches, opponents, and the officials in our act of worship on the court, pitch, track, field, mat, or in the pool? I would offer a few simple, but dynamic suggestions.

A) Build simple spiritual disciplines into the course of our daily training, practice, travel, and rest.
   1) Weave prayer into the fabric of our lives in sport. (Pray for and with others in your spirting world. Compose and implement simple prayers for the myriads of situations in sport to invite the Lord's presence, provision, or protection. Stressful moments often leave us not knowing how to pray. I Thessalonians 5 :17)
    2) Read, study, memorize, and meditate on the scriptures in our sporting environments, in our training gear, in the changing room, on the pitch, the field, in the pool, or on the court. (Take scripture portions with you on paper, on your mobile phone, written on your shoes, tape, or skin, or in your mind through memorization. II Timothy 3:16)
    3) Practice Christian community with our teammates and friends as we live together in our sporting lives. (Share meals and pray together. Care for teammates and others in distress. Seek ways to connect more deeply with those in your sport community. John 13:34)
    4) Speak about our lives in Christ with those around us, both those following and yet to follow Jesus. (Invite teammates to attend church or a small group with you. Share your experiences of God's grace with others in similar situations. Let others observe the spiritual disciplines being woven into the fabric of your life in sport. I Peter 3:15)

B) Work to fully integrate our lives in Christ with our lives in sport.
    1) Define and employ Christ-honoring values and habits on and off the field of competition.
    2) Develop godly relationships with family, friends, teammates, coaches, opponents, officials, support personnel, and the local Church.
    3) Embrace the stability and assurance of our identity in Christ over the fickle and temporary nature of an identity based in our sporting performance.

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