Saturday, January 27, 2018

What can an FCA Chaplain/Character Coach do for me?

During the recently concluded FCA Collegiate Ministries conference in Atlanta, Georgia we received the document below. It was provided by our greatly esteemed colleague and friend, Marla Butterworth. Marla adapted a document she had previously used in her chaplaincy service with the US Navy. She now serves with the US Air Force as a chaplain. I have adapted the document to include information peculiar to my service of the sporting community in my area of the USA. Marla is a gift to our global network through her insight, passion, and generous spirit.

What can an FCA Chaplain/Character Coach do for me?
Provide, Facilitate, Care, Advise in formal and informal ways.

Provide. (for those of the same faith)
·        Team / small group / staff Bible Study
·        Prayer
·        Chapel service on Sunday
·        Pre-game chapel
·        Pray for, encourage, and exhort players, coaches, and support staff.
·        Facilitate any relationships desired with local churches.
·        Resource players and coaches with a desire for involvement with FCA beyond the campus with service projects, camps, retreats, etc.

Facilitate. (for others)
·        Be available to help connect personnel with any needs.

Care. (for all)
·        Assist with and/or resource for Team Building activities.
·        Provide resources and assist in character development, life management skills, and any needed counseling.
·        Be a Safe place- We don’t control playing time, job, or scholarship and will maintain strict confidentiality with the exception of someone doing harm to themselves or others.
·        Be available and develop relationships that allow for supporting players, coaches, and support staff.
·        Attend practice and/or games as well as periodic office visits to facilitate this availability.
·        Be available and equipped at all times to help in crisis situations.
·        Free Labor- an extra set of hands for menial tasks.
·        Advise (the coaching staff)
·        Be an objective outsider who can hopefully have the pulse of the program.
·        Pray for and serve the coaching and support staff in whatever way they need or desire.
·        Alert the coach to critical issues that could affect his or her program.

Above all.
The goal is to assist in a healthy program that graduates mature young people.  The manner is to serve at the pleasure of the Head Coach. The hope is to help create a family atmosphere within a competitive athletic arena.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Pregame Chapel Talk Writing Process

Next week I’ll be at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Collegiate Ministries conference in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). Among the presentations being made will be one that I will make re: the writing process I use for pregame chapel talks. The outline for the presentation, in graphic form, is below. I hope it helps inform your process for communicating with sportspeople.

That’s it; a pretty simple process, but one I have used for many years to speak to the hearts of men and women in sport.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Broad and Shallow or Narrow and Deep?

One of the tensions I experience often is whether ministry initiatives should be broad and shallow, involving lots of people at a nominal level of depth, or narrow and deep, involving fewer people at a much greater depth. One thing is for sure, to expect things to be broad and deep, will only disappoint you.

The second tension comes with the assumption that one can only do one or the other, broad and shallow or narrow and deep. I would like to have you see these as complementary in nature, not adversarial. I strive to do both, with different goals, with different expectations, sometimes with the same groups.

For instance, with the minor league baseball team I serve I do both approaches to ministry with the same club in the same week.
·        Broad and shallow – Baseball Chapel on Sunday after batting practice. Everyone may attend, no preparation is necessary from anyone except me. It takes about fifteen minutes from start to finish. It’s very shallow in depth as I am speaking with a wide range of spiritual maturity. Players and coaches attend, only on Sunday home games. That’s usually around eight meetings per season (96 games).
·        Narrow and deep – Bible study after batting practice on a weekday afternoon. I give each interested player a devotional book and a New Testament (Spanish / English), with instructions that we’ll read the devotion assigned to the day of the year and the chapter of Proverbs corresponding to the day of the month. We all do the reading and then once during each home stand, we discuss our insights from the daily readings. Occasionally I’ll meet one on one over breakfast with a coach, a team captain, or have a couple of players to our home for dinner. I even played a round of golf with a couple of players on an off day afternoon.
With our collegiate FCA group, we do both, broad and shallow as well as narrow and deep.
·        Broad and shallow – We hold occasional large group meetings in an auditorium in the athletic department. They are designed to draw in people who are less comfortable in a more intimate atmosphere, but may find a large group more inviting. It includes some music, video, prepared talks, and time to meet people, all in sixty minutes. Broad and shallow, purposefully.
·         Narrow and deep – We also hold smaller group meetings in my home. They are often for student-athletes of any sport, sometimes for a specific team, and occasionally even one on one meetings with a student-athlete who desires some personal mentoring. Much narrower and much deeper.

The big idea to keep in mind in this tension is to understand the nature of your event and to program wisely. Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting a large group with minimal commitment to dive into a deep discussion requiring a lot of preparation. If the group seems broad and deep, speak their language, start where they are, make it convenient, and work to move them forward to greater depth and commitment. In that broad and shallow group may be a few who desire something with greater depth. Help them start another group. If your aim is to provide a study with depth, requiring study away from the meeting, at an inconvenient hour or location, you can’t be upset if the attendance numbers are low. You have programmed for narrow and deep, the group will be narrow and deep.

One size does not fit all. Listen clearly to your group and they’ll likely reveal their depth and breadth by their choices of location, time of day, subject matter, and frequency of meeting. Move ahead with their desires, challenging them to grow in relationship and commitment. Watch for the outliers in the group and serve their interests. You’ll soon perceive how to complement the broad and shallow with the narrow and deep.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Cultural Preferences vs. Scriptural Mandates

The longer one is in the Church, the more one is enveloped in its culture, both Christian culture generally and specifically the culture of the local church one attends. There are cultural shifts within any particular church’s culture, some seen across decades, others across weeks, and still others that move glacially slowly across centuries. This is equally true of parachurch ministries, but an extra layer of corporate business culture is added to the church culture that defines these organizations.

Whatever the nature of your church or parachurch culture, we must see it clearly enough to keep its cultural preferences distinct from genuine scriptural mandates. To rephrase, we must hold tightly to scriptural mandates, and more loosely hold to our cultural preferences. Let’s not confuse the two. Let’s also understand which ones are worth fighting for and which are not even worth an argument.

Cultural preferences relate to matters like:
·        Musical styles
·        Hair styles
·        Clothing
·        Tattoos
·        Jewelry
·        Architecture
·        Language
·        Church polity
·        Educational issues
·        Sport
·        Technology
·        Art
·        Icons

Scriptural mandates are much more important, far less fuzzy, and much more demanding (short list):
·        34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
·        12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is [l]the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
·        30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

You and I, our families, our churches, our parachurch ministries, our friends, our enemies, everybody will have their cultural preferences. Wonderful. Let’s not allow those preferences to separate us from each other. Let’s certainly not let them compromise our commitment to the scriptural mandates to love God, to love our neighbor, to put on hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. May our hearts, full of Christ Jesus’ Spirit, permeate and transform each and every culture we inhabit, one heart at a time.