Sport, Rec & Fitness Outreach Ministry - "Its not Rocket Science" but has far more eternal significance!
It was one of those awkward internet first dates. We sipped on our hot coffee and, in between the sips, we shared a little bit about ourselves with each other. She asked what I did for a living, and I told her, I was an instructor of sport and recreation administration at Ole Miss.
She asked, as if it were all one word, “What’s a sportandrecreation?”
Being in this field, I’m used to the follow-up question. There were times I would share what I was doing for the church as a sport and recreation minister to my father and he would always ask, “And, they pay you for this?”
I explained to her that in my previous career I organized sports leagues, craft classes, puppet teams, fitness classes, theater productions, outdoor recreation events, and was in charge of a recreation center and a four-field outdoor sports complex. I told her the students in my classes learn how to do the same thing.
She then asked me, “So, what do they do all day?”
I asked her if her children had played sports when they were younger. She nodded that they had. I asked about specific details of putting together a game such as a fully stocked concession stand, bases being out, umpires behind the plate, coaches being present, and other items. When she replied that all of that occurred, I told her that’s what a sport and recreation leader would do.
I sensed she was not impressed when she said, “Oh, I see. Well, it’s certainly not rocket science.”
There was not a second date. In a way, she is correct as it isn't rocket science. It’s more valuable than that.
I went to high school with a guy that ended up working for NASA. He was one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever known. When I read his posts on social media or talk to him at various high school reunions he never talks about how rocket science helps people know true peace, gain direction in life, or experience love. Those in Sports, Recreation, and Fitness (SR&F) Outreach Ministries offer these opportunities all the time.
In my introductory class for sport and recreation majors, I ask them to think of a favorite childhood memory. The answers include playing a sport as a child, being involved in music or drama, or going camping with their family. No one ever mentions making a good grade in Algebra or having his or her tonsils out. Most, if not all, responses over the past twelve years have always had something to do with a leisure activity.
The programs offered through SR&F Outreach Ministries in our churches provide people in our communities with a chance to see Jesus through coaches, teachers, and instructors. Through a “simple” leisure activity, one has the opportunity to discover the love of God in their own life. Beyond that wonderful truth, the activities offered also provide some of the greatest memories that people share and enjoy the rest of their lives.
Whether it was a memorable coach, going snow skiing for the first time, or seeing “before and after” pictures of a fitness course, programs in sports, recreation, and fitness live on forever with our participants.
For all those that volunteer or earn a living providing memory making programs that help people develop Jesus-shaped lives, we thank you!
Professor David Waddell currently teaches at Ole Miss and is CSRM's Executive Director. He had a long tenure as a SR&F Outreach Minister at a local church in Memphis, Tennessee and has authored three books. Contact him at email@example.com
His books can be ordered at: https://csrm.z2systems.com/np/clients/csrm/giftstore.jsp
In my previous blog (January 14, 2019) Part I, the principle of being biblically relevant called on the local church Sports, Recreation and Fitness (SR&F) Ministry to incorporate Scripture as sports, recreation and fitness are used to reach out to the lost as well as to build up the believer.
In this blog (Part II) that theme is going to be continued by using the Apostle John’s reference to believers as “little children,” “young men,” and “fathers” (I John 2:12-14). This was John’s way of describing different levels of spiritual maturity.
In other words, while SR&F Outreach Ministry provides a culturally relevant, viable and valuable way to present the gospel to the unbeliever, at some point the ministry needs to carefully nurture those who have responded to that message and placed faith in Jesus Christ. John’s analogy indicates once saved, we have those who he refers to as “little children.” These are the babes in Christ.
Another analogy is appropriate here … what do you feed a baby? Paul, while trying to help the new believers in Corinth, told them, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food…” (I Corinthians 3:2). The implication for the Sports Minister is to recognize that new believers don’t need to be “fed” deeper theological truths, but need the basics of the faith to “nurse on.” As your “shepherd/coach” leads his/her team or as a director leads an on-going activity, the ”shepherds” need to help the new believer understand three critical things:
1. The new believer needs to understand the priority of SCRIPTURE in one’s daily life (Read it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Study it. And most importantly, apply/obey it.) The new believer is a spiritual being and needs spiritual food to grow.
2. The new believer needs to understand the priority of PRAYER (When to pray, how to pray, what to pray.) It is imperative the new believer understands the distinct privilege of approaching the “throne of grace” and entering into intimate relationship with the God who saved them. Amazingly, God inclines His ear to the prayers of His children. HE WANTS TO HEAR FROM US.
3. The new believer needs to understand the priority of the LOCAL CHURCH (Hebrews 10:25). In other words, the Sports Ministry has the privilege of building a path from activity to worship. When babies leave the hospital, they are taken “home,” and the church is home.
By the way, the Apostle Peter uses this same analogy indicating that the one who was a believer would long for the “pure milk of the word” (I Peter 2:2). In other words, if someone is genuinely converted, they will hunger for God’s truth. Shouldn’t your SR&F Outreach Ministry make it possible for them to be fed properly? This principle is particularly poignant when the one who professes Christ has no interest in the Word of God. Remember, the unconverted are blind and the truth is veiled to them (II Cor 4:4) In I Corinthians Paul calls them a “natural man” and, therefore, without the spirit and unable to understand the Bible. These people need the gospel.
Is your SR&F Outreach Ministry biblically relevant? Is the Word of God incorporated into your efforts to reach out? Is the Word of God incorporated as you serve the new believer? If not, it should be. Not because I say so, but because the Bible says so. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
Founder of Church Sports International
Founding CSRM Board Member
CSRM Staff Emeritus
Praise God that during an outreach follow-up in Kisii 14 children who received salvation were dedicated into class of believers which is the first step before Baptism. It was my greatest joy because most children may raise their hands during altar call for the sake of it but dedicating themselves to discipleship class and being officially dedicated to the membership of a church is the greatest achievement. The 14 children are now helping in evangelizing other unchurched children and the result is enormous. Child evangelism is more effective and appealing. 13 Churches have for a large outreach that will be led by the children.
Another Praise: For a young family who committed their lives to Christ during an outreach. This was after a young sister of a lady convinced the couple who had backslidden to join a CSRM Sports Outreach in a sports field. They had backslided and had given up to ever going back to church but during an out reach in Bungoma they accepted to carry on the work of Sports ministry, evangelism and followup.They are now very committed church believers and leading two discipleship classes.
Lastly Praise God for...
Pastor William from Kisumu who requested to be ordained as a CRSM minister leading Nyanza Region. This is an answer to my prayer because it is not easy to get a Timothy who will carry on the vision of the ministry with all his energy and commitment. His six children joined him and His wife for the ministry. His full sacrifice came when his second born son who was rude and cruel accepted salvation during sports outreach. This is a powerful answer God has given to us.
Pastor Charles Mwanda
CSRM Global Network Partner (GNP) Kenya
For more information about Pastor Mwanda and all CSRM GNP's including committing to prayerfully and financially support any CSRM GNP go to....
For decades, sports and recreation ministry has been viewed and practiced as a means to accomplish evangelistic outreach. The cultural popularity of sports and sportspersons has been a driving force for this sort of practice. Even when integrated into a local church, sports and recreation has been viewed and practiced as a means for the church to reach out and into the community. All too often Sports Ministry has been used as a “calling card” and/or a platform for mass evangelism proclamations.
While this is not a bad practice, it has proven to be ineffective and falls short of the potential the ministry possesses. It is a bad practice because it ignores the centrality of the Word of God as a means for spiritual blessing (salvation and sanctification). It ignores the ministry pattern of Jesus and the counsel of Scripture.
Jesus invested time in the lives of people – especially the Apostles. The “Church” He said He would build is established, built and sustained by the Word of God. If we take just those two principles, it demands that any ministry – especially Sports Ministry – Scripture is incorporated into the fabric of that ministry.
Consider the counsel of God in these passages:
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” In other words, the living and written word which people come to faith. Why would we exclude this component in Sports Ministry?
II Timothy 3:16, 17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” In other words, one’s spiritual growth or maturity is accomplished through the Word of God. Why would we exclude the source of sanctification in our Sports Ministry?
Consider the counsel of Psalm 19
V 7a “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;” (It is the source of salvation.)
V7b “…the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (It is the source of wisdom.)
V8a “The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;” (It is a source of joy.)
V8b “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (It is a source of enlightenment.)
V11 “…by them [Scripture] your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (It is a source of protection and blessing.)
When flying, a pilot never questions the value of one wing over another; he knows both are critical. The same is true for an evangelistic ministry. Those evangelized need to hear the Word; those saved need to hear the Word. A successful Sports Ministry must include the incorporation of Scripture to be all it could be.
This is first of a two-part Blog
Written by Rodger Oswald
Founder of Church Sports International (CSI)
Founding Board Member of CSRM
Staff Emeritus CSRM
CSI Resources are available through the CSRM Website - https://csrm.z2systems.com/np/clients/csrm/giftstore.jsp
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