Here’s a link to a video I shot yesterday regarding how to maintain perspective in the midst of this COVID-19 storm. I hope it is of value to you.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
In this swirling storm of Covid19 chaos, confusion, and emotions, let's be the ones with perspective, the ones who care for souls, the ones who pray, the ones who look for our Lord's guidance. The sporting community needs us to be at our best.
Let's lean into this thing and be Christ's ambassadors of grace, peace, and freedom.
Friday, February 28, 2020
Below is the text of a recent pregame chapel talk I delivered to a men’s college basketball team. The theme was “Selflessness.”
Think about all that is celebrated in College Basketball:
• Thunderous dunks
• Long three point shots
• Last second scores (Marcus)
That's the stuff of good basketball.
Let's be sure to celebrate selfless play, like we have been playing:
• Taking a charge.
• Deflecting a pass.
• Recovering loose balls.
• Help side defense.
• Tipping the ball to a teammate to rebound.
• Closing out on a shooter.
• Diving out of bounds to save the ball to a teammate.
• Making the extra pass to get a better shot.
That's the stuff of exceptional basketball.
"This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our brothers, and not just be out for ourselves.
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love." 1 John 3:16- & 18 MSG
1. Christ Jesus sacrificed for us - that is how we experience real love.
2. We should sacrifice for those we love.
3. Live sacrificially, for others.
4. That's more than love talk, that's the real thing. Let's practice it.
This is the stuff of exceptional men.
- Compete sacrificially for your brothers.
- Compete selflessly, not for yourself.
- Don't just talk about love, practice real love.
This is the stuff of exceptional Saluki Basketball players.
That is worthy of our greatest celebration.
Thursday, February 20, 2020
On Wednesday February 12 I met with eighteen FCA colleagues from across the state of Iowa for training of trainers and mentors of FCA Character Coaches. We met together from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm in a church conference room with good tables, chairs, and an excellent large screen television for presentations. The host church and our FCA teammates were great hosts with coffee, snacks, lunch and more.
We walked our teammates through how to use the Orientation presentation, how to present the 3 hour training material, and the supporting documents. They were hungry to learn, asked good questions, and our discussion oriented presentations made lots of room for processing and application to their local settings.
This is the second such training session with FCA teammates in the Midwest Region. We met with Nebraska teammates in December. I look forward to more of this process, training trainers and mentors, and to their training and mentoring of FCA Character Coaches.
Friday, February 14, 2020
During the days of 30 January through 6 February I was in the Philippine Islands for sports chaplaincy training with our FCA Philippines colleagues and friends. FCA National Director, Pastor Gary Visitacion and I have been trying to plan this trip for over two years and it finally came together. We had great sessions of training in both Imus, and in Manila.
In Imus, we delivered the training in one day across six hours with about 16 trainees. In Manila we had the luxury of two days and that allowed us to go at a more leisurely pace, and to include lots of small group discussions for processing and application to local settings. The Manila training included men and women from all across the nation, several having flown in.
During the training we also had an opportunity to talk with our FCA Philippines colleagues about the ongoing process of training, placing, and mentoring sports chaplains in their nation. We believe we left them with a good plan. Chaplains Hans Pe is taking the lead for developing sports chaplaincy as an important part of FCA Philippines growth.
As the week wrapped up, we were excited to see the transition underway for Pastor Gary Visitacion in his move to leading the South Pacific region for FCA, and Coach Jojo Villa becoming the FCA National Director for the Philippines.
In addition to the training, I was given the opportunity to accompany Coach Jojo to the University of Makati and to speak with a few of their sports teams. The next day, I accompanied Chaplain Hans Pe to observe his ministry with professional basketball clubs in Manila. I was privileged to do a brief post-game talk with one club. These opportunities were enormously valuable to me.
Friday, January 24, 2020
My colleagues and I of the Global Sports Chaplaincy Association have launched a new YouTube channel specifically for the sports chaplaincy community around the world. This channel is subscribed to the YouTube channels of several sports chaplaincy entities from across the globe. We have included links to many and we will also upload original content.
Please stop by and take a look. You’ll find some great wisdom, insight, and a wide variety of accents. Thanks.
Friday, January 17, 2020
Partners in Ministry,
Earlier this week I attended the annual American Football Coaches Association convention in Nashville, TN (USA). Over the years I have attended many of these events in various locations across the nation, and will varying degrees of ministry effectiveness. I believe this one was of significant impact.
A summary of our ministry activities follows with some encouragement for you to find similar ways to connect with the coaches of your sport in your nation. There were roughly 6,000 coaches of American football at this event, mostly from college football, but many who coach high school football as well.
On Saturday, my wife and I drove to Nashville to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. We offloaded the booth FCA reserved in the exhibition hall, and then set it up. We checked into our hotel room and later met some friends at a great steakhouse for dinner.
Sunday morning began with my going to our booth and with others leading a worship service in the convention center. We had seats for 300, but had people standing at the rear of the room. Our FCA colleague, Bryan McKenzie, led the worship service which included music by local musicians, an introduction of the featured speaker by our FCA colleague, Lee Brown. Coach Sherman Smith spoke with great effect and the service concluded within our 75 minute limit.
While the worship service was going on I was in our booth with thousands of coaches being funneled down the aisle in front of our booth for registration. We had many great conversations with coaches. At the booth we distributed cards with info on the FCA ministry events during the convention and distributed free copies of, Coaching: Our Family Business, a Devotional for Coaches and Spouses.
Also while the service continued, my wife was in our FCA Hospitality room in the hotel. We invited coaches and FCA staff colleagues to join us there for refreshments and snacks, as well as to get off their feet for a while. It proved to be a great environment for fellowship and relaxed conversation. NFL football games played on the large screen television and my bride exercised her excellent hospitality gift. We had the hospitality room open from 10 – 4 on Sunday and Monday.
After the booth closed at 5:00, my wife and I went to dinner with a couple of our former players who are now coaching. We enjoyed every moment of that evening. I then returned to the hotel and met our colleagues and well over 100 coaches and spouses at the FCA Coaches and Spouses Huddle at 9:00 pm. Our colleague from Western Kentucky University, Wayne Dickens and his wife, facilitated this discussion based 75 minute meeting. The Christian coaches and spouses who attend this convention desire fellowship above all things. This format gives them that in rich measure through guiding them to talk with each other about significant matters.
After a brief night of sleep, I was up at 5:15 Monday to prepare for the FCA Breakfast. It was held in a large ballroom, set for 520 people. We had excellent sound, lights, video, and staging. Our emcee for the program was FCA Chaplain at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Mitch Mason. He rang the bell! As our delicious breakfast was wrapping up, we played a 2 minute 42 second video about FCA’s ministry with coaches and then Mitch interviewed Coach Matt Jeter of Simpson College in Iowa (USA). Coach Jeter’s answers to Mitch’s questions were inspirational and informative. We transitioned to a video about the FCA Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award. Mitch then introduced this year’s winner of the award, Coach Blake Anderson of Arkansas State University. Coach Anderson then delivered a brief, but inspirational talk about how his faith in Christ has carried him through his wife’s cancer battle, and ultimate death just prior to the start of this season. Mitch wrapped up the program with a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ and prayer. As we finished several minutes ahead of our time limit, the coaches had time to linger in the room for more fellowship. This was an unexpected blessing.
After a return to the room, I went to the booth to continue our connections with coaches. That continued throughout the day in the booth and the hospitality room. The hospitality room had less traffic on Monday, but it was still worthwhile staffing it with local FCA staff people and other FCA staff who had traveled in from Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Arizona, Kentucky, and Illinois. After being in the convention center with thousands of people all day for two days, my wife and I elected to get away from the crowd for dinner and found a place not far away. We enjoyed that time and returned to the hotel in time to watch the college football Division I national championship game. I fell asleep before halftime. Party animal.
Tuesday at the convention is always much slower and less crowded than Sunday and Monday. Many of the coaches leave on Monday and many more early on Tuesday. Thus the booth has much less traffic and we didn’t even have a hospitality room for Tuesday. The exhibition hall closed at noon, but many of the exhibitors were already gone by 9:00, and many more by 11:00. We dismantled the booth, packed it into its boxes, and loaded out shortly after noon. We returned to our room to relax for the afternoon, dinner and rest concluded the evening. We checked out of the hotel and drove home on Wednesday.
In summary – ministry at coaching events is fruitful, if you value relationships above immediate results. Having attended this event for around fifteen years, it serves as a way to reconnect face to face with dozens of coaches to whom I send text messages throughout the football season. They allow me to connect with their hearts with scripture and prayer via SMS and this events allows me to see them in person. This process nurtures our relationships and their lives of faith in Christ Jesus. Where else are this many coaches gathered in one place at one time? This event and others like it provide us unique opportunities. This is where the coaches are, find a way to get there. Our presence with them has incalculable impact.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
While in St. Petersburg, Russia recently, serving with FCA Eurasia teammates, I was asked to prepare a brief “thumbnail sketch” of what Sports Chaplains (Character Coaches) do and how they serve. I scratched out a simple five point outline for sharing with those entirely unacquainted with this form of ministry. That outline is below. I like it and I hope you do also.
- Sports Chaplains (Character Coaches) are ambassadors for Christ Jesus and His Church in the sporting community.
- Sports Chaplains (Character Coaches) love extravagantly. We love God. We love the people of sport, at their best and at their worst.
- Sports Chaplains (Character Coaches) serve selflessly. We serve God. We serve the people of sport, at their best and at their worst.
- Sports Chaplains (Character Coaches) are invited guests of the sports clubs, the teams, the federations, coaches, competitors, and support staffs they serve.
- A Sports Chaplain’s (Character Coach’s) service is built upon these three pillars:
- It helps to think about these three in this sequence: Be seen, Be known, and Be heard.
- Relationships, Attitudes, and Presence all inform and empower this process.
There it is. Simple, but descriptive of the essence of our ministry in sport.
Friday, December 13, 2019
Over the last 19 years my approach to development as a sports chaplain (character coach) has grown and developed, changing emphases and forms many times.
My first attempt at developing training materials is compiled in Transforming Lives in Sport (Cross Training Publishing, 2006). It was the result of several years of trial and error, experimentation, analysis, and conversations with colleagues from around the world.
In 2011, Jeff Martin of FCA, and I collaborated to abbreviate the training in Transforming Lives in Sport and to incorporate language and processes more fitting for Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry leaders in the USA.
In 2014, I met with colleagues from several nations, first in Hong Kong, China and later in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA) to outline, then write, and then to build www.globalsportschaplaincy.org.
Most recently, FCA leaders from around the USA have begun to treat sports chaplaincy, character coaching in FCA language, more seriously. In their approach, they have used the outline: Be Seen, Be Known, Be Heard. I was happy to adapt to that outline and to supplement it with some greater depth in introduction and some addenda of helpful information.
The result is a two pronged approach to the identification, training, engagement, and supervision of volunteer FCA Character Coaches.
· Step one – Orientation – a one hour introduction to FCA character coaching. The idea is to give prospective character coaches a clear view of what it is and what it is not.
· Step two – Training – a three hour process of receiving and processing information, consideration of opportunities, and preparation for service as an FCA Character Coach.
Earlier this week I was in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) to train trainers of this material. The aim was to equip and empower my FCA colleagues from Nebraska in such a way that they are prepared to identify, train, empower, assign, and supervise FCA character coaches in their area. It seemed to go very well and I’m excited to see how they develop this form of ministry in a uniquely Nebraskan way.
Over these years, our approach has constantly adapted to fit the cultures, the preferences, the constraints, and the capacity of those we have sought to engage, equip, and empower for this form of life transforming ministry. I would imagine that more changes are just ahead. Please let me know if I can serve you and those around you in similar ways.
Friday, November 29, 2019
Over the last several months I have been shooting, editing, and collecting a series of videos for Character Coaches and Sports Chaplains. There are sixty-six videos on this YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBmzpllyhtqx4olugj8CIOXwu0_oG7gV9 . They are brief and very practical in nature.
I hope they are of some value to you.
Friday, November 22, 2019
Later tonight I will deliver a talk to the football teams of Greenville University and Olivet Nazarene University at the banquet for the NCCAA Victory Bowl. The game will be played tomorrow, November 23 in Greenville, Illinois.
An outline of my talk is below. I hope the ideas therein challenge your thoughts about sport and its value to Christians in sport.
“I love college football!”
Introduction: Think about what you love about college football...
· For 26 seasons now I have been our team’s chaplain and get-back coach.
· Untold hundreds of man-hours of preparation by dozens of people, across six days of each week’s practice, training, video review, teaching, and scheming; all compressed into 150-180 six second explosions of fury and orchestrated chaos.
· Each step, each glance, each hesitation, each moment of insight, each explosive movement has immense weight and importance for the success or failure of any given play.
· The teamwork, comradery, selflessness, attention to detail, concentration of will, and tolerance of discomfort needed to excel in this sport are uncommon traits in our society.
· And, it’s fun!
· I love college football for another, far superior reason as well. It is an environment and an endeavor in which we may experience the presence and pleasure of the Lord Jesus as an act of worship.
Text – Romans 12:1-2 (4 big ideas)
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
1. I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God…
a. This is not a suggestion,
b. Not a wish,
c. Not a hope,
d. He urges, he exhorts, he beseeches his brothers…
e. By the mercies of God. The ground upon which we consider his next thoughts are the mercies of God.
f. By the mercies of God, he urges his brothers…
2. Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
a. The presentation of your bodies is a:
i. A living sacrifice, not a dead one. It is a daily, hourly, play by play, practice by practice sacrifice.
ii. A holy sacrifice, set apart for God. Football is not played behind God’s back. It’s set apart for Him.
iii. An acceptable sacrifice, not something tolerated by God, rather it’s an acceptable, well-pleasing sacrifice. You can expect to experience God’s pleasure as you present your body as a sacrifice through sport.
iv. This is your spiritual service of worship. Beyond an activity that God would tolerate until you can get to worship at church on Sunday; football itself is an environment for and an activity in which we worship the Lord Jesus.
b. When you step onto the field to train, to practice, or to compete in football, you have the privilege of presenting your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
3. Do not be conformed to this world.
a. The world would have you separate who you are as a Christ-following man from who you are as a football player.
b. You the excellent student, the loving son, the loyal brother, the faithful friend, vs. you the raging, almost out of control, barbaric, maniacal football player. Which is the real you?
c. Greek thinking, prevailing cultural dualism would have you experience life as two separate people.
d. Hebrew thinking, God-honoring integrity would have you be the same man, all the time, regardless of environment or circumstance.
e. Do not be conformed to this world. Rather…
4. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
a. Transform the way you think about football, about competition.
b. To compete is to strive together. Together, not against.
c. If we have no opponent for competition, we only have practice. If we don’t turn on the score board, we just have another practice.
d. To compete is to test each other as we both strive to be our best, to grow, to develop, and ultimately to become all God has purposed for us to be.
e. As we compete we prove or test what the will of God is and we find it to be:
i. Good – we find the will of God to be good for us.
ii. Acceptable – we find the will of God to be well-pleasing to us.
iii. Perfect – we find the will of God to be perfect or complete.
5. Football players, Coaches, Support Staff, may I challenge you with the Apostle Paul’s words?
a. I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God…
b. Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
c. Do not be conformed to this world, but…
d. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
I love college football because it is an environment and an endeavor in which we may experience the presence and the pleasure of the Lord Jesus as an act of worship.
I pray you also experience our Lord’s presence and His pleasure tomorrow and each time you prepare, train, practice, and compete.
Friday, November 15, 2019
During the days of 31 October through 2 November, I was privileged to participate in a sports ministry conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. Men and women from the sporting world and a number of churches from a wide radius joined us for these days of inspiration, conversation, and envisioning a future of ministry in sport for that part of the world.
We were very well hosted by our friends of FCA in St. Petersburg, by the Russian language TBN Network, and area church leaders. The event featured speakers including local bishops and similar leaders of the area church community, a highly ranked boxer, three of my FCA colleagues, and me. I was privileged to share an orientation about sports chaplaincy with a strongly engaged set of leaders and can’t wait to see what develops.
Mark Hull of the 360 Coaching Institute made several presentations and Dan Britton of FCA delivered strong and passionate messages re: the potential of ministry in sport.
In addition to the formal presentations and inspirational talks from a wide variety of speakers, there were many discussions during coffee breaks, over lunches and dinners, all in consideration of what the Lord may be doing related to ministry in sport in their region. Along the way we learned some significant lessons about how to approach ministry, in partnership with the local church, now thirty years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Things have changed in very important ways and those changes necessitate a shift in the ministry approach of ministries from the west.
We were thrilled to also have time with our hosts to tour the Hermitage museum, to visit the Savior on the Spilled Blood Cathedral, and other sites in St. Petersburg. The history, the art, and the grandeur of the city is remarkable. Those wonders are greatly overshadowed by the hunger, passion, and vision exhibited by the men and women we met from all across northern Russia and Finland.
Please pray for our friends and colleagues in St. Petersburg, Russia and beyond. The Lord is up to something big here. I hope we can be a small part of His plans and purposes.
Friday, November 8, 2019
The 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity was held October 23-27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan on the campus of Calvin University. https://calvin.edu/events/2GCSC/
This ecumenical gathering of sport administrators, coaches, athletes, pastors, theologians and anyone else who seeks to explore the mutual impact of belief and sport, and also wants to affect a cultural shift in modern sport and the role it plays in a life of faith. We heard from Tim Tebow, professional athlete, ESPN analyst and author; Loretta Claiborne, recipient of the 1996 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage; Miroslav Volf, renowned theologian; and other noted names in the world of sport and faith.
BACKGROUND: In 2016, the Inaugural Congress on Sport and Christianity took place in York, England, hosted by York St. John University. The event drew nearly 200 participants from 24 different nations. Best-selling author, activist, and scholar Tony Campolo delivered the opening address, setting the tone for posing questions and seeking answers in sport through the lens of authentic Christian faith. Other keynotes lectures and more than 80 additional presentations were given by scholars and practitioners, each providing new insights and reflections on the culture of sport as it relates Christian thought and life.
In 2019, the energetic conversation continued. The 2nd Global Congress, hosted by Calvin University and Hope College, took place at the Prince Conference. Co-Directors Brian Bolt (Calvin University) and Chad Carlson (Hope College) did a great job of putting it all together. The congress welcomed participants from every populated continent around the globe.
The keynote speakers were from widely varied backgrounds and experiences in sport. The breakout sessions were well presented, thoughtful, and well received by the hundreds in attendance. The campus of Calvin University served the conference well. It was a privilege and an honor to make three presentations and to moderate a block of breakout sessions during the congress.
As per usual, I enjoyed the time between sessions, conversations over coffee or lunch, networking with friends, new and old, and discussions of the ideas presented during keynotes and breakout sessions. I value these moments even more highly than the presentations. This event is unique in that it welcomes both academics and practitioners of both sport and ministry in sport to the table as equals. People from both perspectives are treated with respect and are given a receptive ear.
I have been watching, but have not seen any information about a 3rd Global Congress. I imagine it would be scheduled for 2022.
Dr. Brian Bolt and Dr. Chad Carlson co-chaired the 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity. The pair is podcasting to encourage the conversation on sport and faith. You can listen at www.brianrbolt.com or by subscribing to "Dig Deep: Sport, Faith, Life" via iTunes to catch the latest podcast episode. I have subscribed to this podcast and find the discussions to be thoughtful and perceptive. Have a topic or idea you'd like to hear Dr. Bolt and Dr. Carlson discuss? Please send them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.