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
Well Vs. Whole
In the world of Sports, Recreation and Fitness (SR&F) Outreach Ministry, we quite obviously tend to focus primarily on the physical fitness component of both ourselves and those we serve. But as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach who specializes in Biblical Health and Wholeness, I see a bigger, more complex picture. It all started when my family had to call an ambulance for me one day while out running errands.
See, I had taken on too much. Like many of us, and many of those we serve, it was hard for me to say no. I did everything anyone asked of me… in addition to my God-given responsibilities. I didn’t want to let anyone down and wanted to look like I had it all together. After all, if I said no, they would think I couldn’t handle it, right? But where it got me was somewhere I never expected to end up. I landed in the ER.
In the process of trying to not fail others, I had failed to care for myself well. I had fallen for the enemy’s lies that whispers, Christians sacrifice. Others come first. You don’t have time to slow down. Maybe you’ve heard those same whispers? But you didn’t know it was from an enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy? He has a way of twisting truth and turning it into a lie. Sacrifice? Caring for others? Great things! And obviously a part of the foundation of our faith in action, but God cares about YOU, too. He cares about those we partner with in our ministries who are running on empty.
We all know that the greatest commandment Jesus gave us was to love our Father in heaven with everything we are. But the second has a component we often leave out. We are told to love others as we love ourselves, but often simplify restate it as: “love others”. Yet, in order to love others as we love ourselves, we must first actually love (and thus care for) ourselves! We aren’t much good to the expansion of the Kingdom, if we aren’t well enough to serve.
I like to teach that in those 2 commandments, there are actually 3. And if we put them in their proper order, it looks like this: We are to love God, love (and care for) ourselves (so that we can), love (and care for) others. God not only gave us the command to rest (Exodus 20:8-11), He also modeled it at creation (Genesis 2:2). However, I’m willing to bet most Christians don’t take it seriously. Jesus also modeled stepping away for times of prayer (Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12… you get the idea), encouraging others to rest (Mark 6:31), clarifying His priorities in ministry (Matthew 15:24), even catching a nap (Mark 4:38)!
I’m sure you’ve seen it. I know I’m not alone in having been there. You may have been down that road also, or know others who have. We live in a culture, even a church culture, that neglects to care for ourselves well. We want good health, but we’d prefer the quick fix offered by the world than look at true wholeness.
While I have been blessed to find the path to healing, many are left to navigate those waters alone. Medical doctors often just want to prescribe a pill to reduce symptoms in the body, psychologists often only look at worldly theories on the brain and mental health, and pastors often only offer prayer. While each of these professionals may have the patient’s best at heart, each may be missing that bigger picture.
There are 3 areas of the whole person that we must address in order to guide people toward true wholeness. God made us with 3 parts: body, mind, and spirit. We must address physical health including diet as well as exercise, we must address mental health and what the Bible says about it, and we must address spiritual health and not simply assume it’s healthy. Many of us, or those we serve, have become experts at masking the real issues. We may look fit, seem sane, and appear spiritual, but under the surface we are a mess. For most, it is a definite struggle to be real in front of others and open up about what’s going on underneath the façade.
But by creating a new culture within your church or ministry that is a safe space to talk about these things, people WILL begin to open up about what they’re facing. By hearing you discuss your own internal or unseen battles, people will be encouraged to do the same and begin to walk toward healing those areas. Remember, leaders must lead by example! You cannot expect your people to be transparent with you if you are not being transparent with them.
We must start addressing health more wholistically- the whole person: body, mind, and spirit, if we want to lead people toward true wellness…toward true wholeness. Begin the conversation with your leaders. Challenge your people to examine their own wholistic health and be willing to work through it with them. (I’ve got a fantastic new resource for this in my shop!) Checking in on their physical, mental, and spiritual health is not only a component of discipleship, but will keep your ministry strong and healthy as well. Burnout benefits no one.
The rest of this year, I’ll be periodically offering new blogs to talk about the specific areas we should be covering as we teach others (and learn for ourselves!) about wholistic health and what that might look like as a component of your ministry. In the meantime, feel free to join me over at http://fixyoureyesonhim.com for other wholistic health tips, resources, and more!
Amber Lauren of Fix Your Eyes on Him Biblical Health and Wholeness is the wife of a Senior Pastor of an energetic, growing local church, mother of 3 school-aged children and has a passion to empower people to become whole in Christ.
Link to free printable version for distribution (unaltered) to those in your ministry: https://fixyoureyesonhim.com/download/2657/