This is the 12th in a series of blogs addressing the question: Is Sports Outreach Effective, and continues the conversation on the third Sports Outreach Ministry Continuum. What follows is written to begin a conversation, not to be intentionally offensive or hurtful.All truth seekers are invited to continue.
Sports Outreach Continuum of Tension #3:
Local Church Sports Outreach – Para-Sports Ministry
Three blogs ago I identified the insidious dilemma facing the Sport Outreach Movement in regards to a Level #1 Theological Truth concerning evangelism.I stated sport related Para-Ministries and Local Church Sports Ministries often have a significant difference in evangelistic philosophy.The last two blogs explained through brief historical overviews how this divergent Level #2 Philosophical Principle led to decidedly different Level #3 Methodological Models.This blog explains and outlines the profound relevance of this variance in approach to “evangelistic-disciplemaking and more importantly makes an audacious proposal!
Relevance of the Local Church – Para-Ministry Sports Outreach Continuum The sad reality is most Churches don’t evangelize and most sports related Para-Ministries don’t produce fully mature disciples intimately involved with a local church.Generalities to be sure, but generalities based in reality. Yes, too often, churches either don’t know how to evangelize or, even worse, don’t believe evangelism should be a priority.Most churches are embarrassed to report the overwhelming cause for church growth comes from “transferal growth”…new members transferring from other churches.Church growth is rarely from “conversion growth”…new members who have converted to the faith.However, churches that do make evangelism a priority, and strategically incorporate Sports Outreach into their mission endeavors, reap huge dividends from church conversion growth and successfully produce fully mature believers in Christ when their methodologies are based on the Level #2 Philosophical Principle of “evangelistic-disciplemaking.”
Conversely, sports related Para-Ministries often don’t emphasize church membership as an important part of their outreach or essential to true discipleship when they focus on evangelism rather than “evangelistic-disciplemaking.”Furthermore, Sports Chaplains are often restricted by the parameters given them by the teams and clubs they serve.In their disciplemaking efforts, anything remotely in conflict with a “win at all costs” mentality is not welcomed in a team chapel service.In addition, the athletes they reach out to often don’t want to hear about a discipleship with Christ if it requires making sacrifices in their career such as church membership and participation.Regardless of the reasons, the end results are dismal.Local Church Ministries have a dismal record of reaching those far from Christ and Para-Ministries have significant problems in connecting elite athletes to a local church to enhance their chances of becoming true Disciples of Christ.
The objective of both the Local Church and the Para-Ministry would be greatly enhanced by a change in their Level #2 Philosophical Principle to: “evangelistic-disciplemaking” endeavors out of which could emerge ground-breaking new Level #3 Methodological Models.Certainly, both would agree the goal is to strive for full spiritual maturity in each person they minister to, but the question is…are they, by themselves, with their current approaches, able to accomplish this in efficient and effective manners?
So the relevance of the Local Church - Para-Ministry Continuum is…that it suggests a different Level #2 Philosophical Principle is needed.Such a change in philosophy would then demand a reconsideration of the Level #3 Methodological Model.Both philosophies have merit and strengths that when partnered with the others merits and strengths a catalytic new era could become reality.
Imagine what might happen if…
Rather than FCA having to hire staff for each college and high school huddle, one FCA staff could mobilize, train and equip hundreds of Local Church huddle volunteers who would become the natural conduit of young athletes into a lifetime association with a local congregation.
What transformative power could be unleashed if local churches sought out the expertise of AIA and were willing to be mentored by AIA staff on how to reach, build and send college student athletes?
What could be accomplished if Baseball Chapel and Hockey Ministries International mobilized local churches to be the primary means of outreach to their local minor league teams?
Think how the kingdom could be enhanced and expanded if Ambassadors in Football empowered Local Churches to envision and operate summer sports camps and year round soccer leagues?
How revolutionary would it be if Local Churches started to hire Para-Ministers on their staff?The potential is staggering.The empowerment of laypeople and the natural linking of individuals far from Christ to local assemblies of The Church would result in unbelievable gains for the kingdom!
In The Final Analysis
In the final analysis, what is most important is to determine what strategy has the best chance for producing mature Disciples of Christ.The way seems clear: Local Church sports outreach partnering with sports related Para-Ministries will produce effective, efficient, relevant and strategic of which the world has never yet seen?
There is one final blog in this series…a look at the obstacles for why such partnerships don’t occur. Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports written by Dr. Greg Linville are archived at: www.csrm.org and http://www.csrm.org/blog201112-2.htmlThis blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's yet to be released book.All rights reserved.For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. w. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org