Across my twenty-four seasons of serving our college football (American football) team, I have done 200+ chapel talks. Over the years I have changed styles and forms many times, sometimes just to keep them from being too predictable or so ritualistic that the players and coaches would treat them like a good luck charm.
In the best seasons I had a strong tie in with the head coach and the ideas he was building into his team’s culture. With our most recent head coach, I have done two seasons on the program’s theme of, “Be a Man.” As probably 80% of our young men have grown up with no father in their homes, being a man is an idea with which they are not necessarily familiar. I have taken it as part of my role to define terms and to provide models of what it looks like to be a man.
During an FCA 3Dimensional Coaching presentation, I imagined a new and innovative way to introduce each week’s point of emphasis. I would borrow the 3D Coaching concept of a “spotlight drill.” As I stand to begin chapel, I will introduce the idea with a sentence or two, then ask for a volunteer to pray. After the prayer, I will continue the introduction by saying something like, “This week I polled your coaches and team captains as to who among the players is a man who demonstrates this quality. I received __ of your names, but first among them was (player’s name)”. I ask that young man, or as many as two or three to stand up. I would now like to ask you to share with us how he exemplifies this quality of “A Man……….” I then wait for various players to offer brief comments about the spotlighted player. The players and coaches make their statements of affirmation and after six to ten of them, I thank them, ask the young man to be seated, and continue with my talk from scripture. After I have quoted or read scripture, I will make application of its truth to the weekly emphasis and then challenge them to live out the scripture’s principles as they compete and in all of life. To wrap up the chapel, I will pray or we will stand and pray the Lord’s Prayer together.
I do all the chapel talks for road games, but during some seasons I have worked with local pastors to be guest speakers for our home games. This enables me to introduce the pastors to our players and to affirm the quality of their churches, encouraging the players to attend them. It also enables me to affirm our partnership with local churches. It is not without peril. Some pastors can deliver a five to seven minute talk, others find that much more difficult. I give them clear directions about expectations, the environment, and the nature of the group to which they’ll be speaking. Most do very well, some do not. This season’s guests have been outstanding.
This season’s weekly points of emphasis are below along with the name of the guest speaker (home games) and/or the scripture I plan to use:
Be a Man -
• A Man Takes Initiative – Mississippi Valley State University (Pastor Swims)
• A Man Takes Responsibility - @ Southeast Missouri State University
• A Man Loves Deeply - @ University of Memphis
• A Man Protects his Friends – University of Northern Iowa (Scott Pilkington)
• A Man Serves Others - @ South Dakota State University
• A Man Cares for his Family – Illinois State University (Troy Benitone)
• A Man Demonstrates Compassion - @ Indiana State University
• A Man Lives with Integrity - @ University of South Dakota
• A Man Is Loyal – Missouri State University (Bob Pankey)
• A Man Tells the Truth – Youngstown State University (Casey Raymer)
• A Man Gives Maximum Effort - @ Western Illinois University
I would challenge you to communicate with your head coach about the themes, ideas, the culture he or she is working to build in the team. Join the coach in affirming those themes, with Biblical examples, and thereby both assist the coaching staff and further develop your relationship of trust with the head coach.