The Sabbath/Lord’s Day in Relationship to Sports Outreach Ministry
The second aspect for understanding the importance of commitment to and participation with a local congregation is one of the most controversial issues that has confronted the Sports Outreach Movement through the decades: What about Sunday Sports?
Many athletes, coaches and Sports, Recreation and Fitness Ministers wrestle with whether to participate in, or whether to program sports outreach activities on a Sunday. If the truth be told, almost every Christian athlete, coach and athletic director has already made the decision to play, coach or organize sport on Sunday and many local churches have followed the lead of sport-related para-ministries who subscribe to the sport on Sunday ethic.
All of this then cause Christian families to determine whether or not to allow their “sporty” kids’ athletic involvements, priorities and commitments to trump church and spiritual commitments. Specifically, should their children participate in “travel team,” AAU or other specialized and/or elite athletic sports activities if they occur on a Sunday? The issue of Sunday Sport is indeed uniquely linked with, and connected to, the Level #1 Theological Truth discussion on commitment to and participation with The Church (the overall topic of this series of blogs).
The answer to Sunday Sports cannot be determined quickly and must not be pre-determined by the often emotional desire to play sport at a high level…even if that desire is tied up with a desire to utilize one’s sport to glorify God and/or reach others for God. The answer can only be ascertained by reflection on five key Theological Truths / Doctrines: a) the Doctrine of Sabbath Day; b) the Doctrine of the Lord’s Day; c) Ecclesiology (theology of The Church) in relationship to church association and participation; d) Missiology (the theology of reaching those far from Christ) in relationship to biblical principles of reaching those far from Christ; and e) Soteriology (the theology of salvation) in relationship to evangelism and discipleship. For the purposes of this series of blogs, it is assumed that true disciples of Jesus will be regularly participating in a local congregation and abstaining from any regular, organized sporting activities and events held on the Lord’s Day. The primary reason for this has to do with utter importance of establishing a growing and vibrant faith in Christ that can only be achieved through regular participation in both personal and corporate spiritual activities.
To that end, local congregations do have worship services, Christian education and fellowship opportunities that meet on days other than Sunday, but it stretches the limits of credulity to suggest even a sizable minority of churches offer services to nurture a strong faith in any athlete that don’t conflict with the time of athletic trainings and practices. Christian athletes and coaches must face the fact that sporting activities regularly conflict with spiritual commitments. Sundays, Saturday evenings and most week night evenings are all consumed by athletic practices, conditioning and games. As hard as it is to say…and even harder to live out…Christian sportspeople must often make a choice between sport and faith. It is imperative for athletes and coaches to make room in their schedules for a commitment to regular, active participation with a church for the good of their own spiritual development; even if it means leaving sport. It should be pointed out that the same principle would apply to all vocations as sport cannot be singled out. If one’s career precludes or prohibits personal involvement in a local church, then a new career is necessitated.
The next blog in this series will further contemplate the Sabbath and Lord’s Day Principles as they relate to personal and corporate fellowship and relationships
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's book yet to be released book – Sports Ministry Fundamentals. 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 email@example.com
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville and other local church Sports, Rec & Fitness Ministers are archived at: www.csrm.org
 I address each of these in depth in my book on the Fundamentals of The Sports Outreach Movement and in chapter 7 of my book Christmanship.
Dr. Greg Linville was one of the founding members of CSRM and has served as the Executive Director since 2000. He served for 15 years as a local church sports and recreation minister and coached over 30 years at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels as well as 30 years in rec. leagues. Dr. Linville has consulted with churches from Australia, Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe, New Zealand and North America. He was awarded the world's first honorary Doctorate in Sports Ministry and holds an earned Doctorate as well. He is the author of Christmanship: The Theology of Competition & Sport. Dr. Greg has been married for over 35 years, is the father of two married children and the grandfather of a growing number of grandchildren.