This Series of Blogs provide vignettes of the early pioneers of The Muscular Christianity Era - Faith-Sport Integration who laid the foundations for the Modern Day Sports Outreach Movement
THE 50TH YEAR JUBILEE OF THE YMCA
George Williams witnessed four Jubilee celebrations.
All were attended by myriads of friends, delegates and representatives of government; society; Church; and of course members of the Association. The praise and words of admiration for Sir George Williams and his wife flowed unceasingly. On the Sunday of the YMCA Jubilee some 1,400 clergy preached “Association sermons,” in honor of Williams and the Y. Thousands attended the festivities and hundreds of letters of commendations arrived.
At the YMCA Jubilee a now grey haired and very frail George Williams once again stressed the need to focus on winning young men to Christ: "God grant that we may go on prospering, and that He will give us friends who will help us to win young men all over the world for Christ."
He went on in this speech to give the example of one man who had come to the YMCA as a man in trouble in every way, but came to salvation in Christ through the Y work and became a successful business man who maintained a strong Christian influence. It was for such men, that Williams poured out his life. He implored those listening to be about winning such men to Christ.
He attended all but the North American Jubilee even though he was extremely frail. His 80 year old body may have been faltering but his zeal for the YMCA work of reaching young men for Christ never faded. His message to each of the Jubilees included admonitions to concentrate on extending the kingdom. His personal correspondences as well as his personal interviews with visiting dignitaries and Association members always included encouragements to keep after the salvation of men’s souls. While to the end he supported new methods of out reach, he remained adamant there should be no departure from the fundamental principle of the Y being a union of Christian men for service in the extension of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. He labored for souls, not for systems or organizations. This was his one true aim and purpose for living. (U)
The legacy of George Williams is best stated by the author on the last page (pp. 334,335) of his biography:
"Unless the YMCA in every clime succeed in showing young men
how they shall serve and bear witness to Jesus Christ in the ‘sphere
of their daily calling,’ they dishonor the memory of their founder
and their work is in vain."
LESSONS FOR SPORTS MINISTERS GLEANED FROM THE LIFE OF GEORGE WILLIAMS
A. We need to live the life before we speak about the life.
B. Language is a powerful indicator of faith, MOST OFTEN THE LACK OF PROFANE LANGUAGE.
C. Evangelism is best when relationally based.
D. Be faithful in your calling, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
E. Keep a prayer journal (John 3:16 / Andrew list) for those whom we want to come to Christ.
F. Seek out mentors and assimilate their best qualities and eliminate the weaknesses.
G. Make church involvement a weekly priority - not just to attend but to be involved.
H. A vision is best shared initially, one person at a time. A vision should be shared with a group only after sharing it with a few individuals.
I. Whenever beginning a new program/ministry or continuing an existing one the two critical questions which need answering are: 1) will it be evangelistic; 2) is there leadership; two other questions will then follow but will come in due course; 3) how to finance it; 4) how to administrate/organize it. If 1&2 are affirmative then the plans should proceed, because the money and organization will come.
J. Each person working in Sports Ministry should have a John 3.16/Andrew list. People who they are attempting to lead to Christ. Limiting it to five enables personal involvement by the believer in the lives of the non-believers. It maintains focus.
K. Meeting the perceived need will open the door for meeting the real spiritual need.
L. Again, relationships are imperative to reaching the non-believer.
M. People are most easily influenced while having fun.
N. Evangelism is a process - it often can take years.
O. Innovation in method? Yes! Change in purpose? Never!
P. Your most important decision in ministry is who you hire and associate with.
Q. Are you a boss or a coach? The boss dictates, a coach develops.
R. Behind every good man is a surprised mother-in-law, or for a successful ministry marry well.
S. Behind every good minister is a family who can count on specific & guaranteed times with dad & husband.
T. All men need Christ and all men are needed for the work.
U. Are you building a system? A building? An organization? Or are you building up the kingdom through the building up of people?
Williams, p. 289.
This blog is an excerpt from a future book "Surrounded by Witnesses" by Dr. Greg Linville. 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
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: http://www.csrm.org/blog/