FORERUNNERS OF THE SPORTS OUTREACH MOVEMENT: ROBERT MCBURNEY - PART #6 / MODELS FOR LOCAL CHURCH SPORT, REC & FITNESS MINISTERS
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
MODELS FOR LOCAL CHURCH SPORTS MINISTERS GLEANED FROM THE LIFE & MINISTRY OF ROBERT ROSS MCBURNEY
A. One of the key ingredients to McBurney’s success was he remained single his entire life - a life solely devoted to ministering to young men. Because he had no family commitments he was able to pour all of his energies into his ministry. In addition, being single enabled him to live on a lower salary, with no concern for caring financially for any dependents. While singleness is not a pre-requisite for Sports Ministry it can not help but be noted being single was crucial to this Scotch-Irish immigrant’s accomplishments.
B. The second reason McBurney was successful was due to the quality of his relationships with influential people. These relationships were crucial to the financial underpinnings of McBurney’s ministry. One cannot read more than a few pages of Doggett’s biography on McBurney without recognizing how much money was raised by this incredible man. This ability is often looked upon as being less spiritual than other gifts, but it is indispensable when it comes to building a viable ministry. Without adequate funding McBurney would have had no buildings and without the buildings the Y would have had much less prominence and exposure and without this prominence there would have been far fewer opportunities to share Christ. Sports Ministers who desires to reach more people for Christ must recognize they will need to raise money. Moreover, Sports Ministers need to understand the funding for their ministries will be generated by their personal integrity and by the quality of their relationships. People who know people of means will be willing to solicit funds for ministries if they believe in the person and the ministry. McBurney was surrounded by influential people who believed McBurney was their friend and who believed in what McBurney was doing. He and his ministry had integrity and results and therefore he had the money he needed.
C. Another key for McBurney was his keen political mind. He was able to assess the needs of young men and then create a vision for programming which would meet those needs. He was also particularly adept at assessing and interacting with the nuances of the political, social, economic and religious communities of his day. He was personally involved in his community and knew how to positively manipulate things for the sake of the gospel. The personal relationships he nurtured through the years which were mentioned in point B, not only supplied the financing the YMCA needed, but they also opened doors whatever doors were necessary for the ministry to go forward.
D. The fourth ingredient in McBurney’s success was his administrative skills. He knew how to supervise men and how to administrate facilities and ministries. The New York City YMCA of the late 19th century was able to expand because the leader was a capable administrator. A Sports Minister’s program in a local Church, or a Para-Minister’s clubs, huddles and activities will only increase to the level the minister can capably oversee it organizationally.
E. Another imperative ingredient for growing a Sports Ministry is leadership. McBurney was a master at developing leadership. This included being able to identify, recruit, train, support, deploy and supervise his leaders. This ingredient may be the most vital McBurney possessed. For it was the men McBurney surrounded himself with who ensured the overall success of the Y.
McBurney like Williams before him was a keen evaluator of men and he too managed them well. Not only did he choose quality men, but he had a unique insight into how to select men who were skilled and highly qualified with gifts complimentary to his own. His scribe, R. C. Morse, penned the historical documents of the Association and was also the major source of the YMCA’S written communication. He was chosen out of family who had authored books and who created the Morse code. Robert Weidensall was the missionary who rode the trains throughout America spreading the message of the YMCA. Wherever Weidensall got off a train it seemed he planted a new branch of the Y. Vanderbilt, Brainerd and Dodge were the men who held the keys to the purse strings and public relations. Whenever a community contact or a financial shot in the arm was needed, these and other prominent men came to the aid of the Y. It could be said there was not one single YMCA Secretary in the 1800's who had not been influenced in some way by McBurney. His example demonstrates a ministry will only grow if it has a trained, supported and well deployed leadership force.
F. Buildings are magnets. Facilities naturally attract people. Any Church, camp, YMCA or other Sports Ministry which wants to make an impact should consider a building program which will meet the needs of the people in the ministries community.
G. McBurney exhibited a rare ability to stay on course. Even rarer was his ability to know what his personal mission in life was and rarer still was his ability to know how to accomplish his personal mission through the corporate mission of the YMCA. In order for a Local Church Sports Minister to be effective he or she must know themselves - their gifts, abilities, positionings and callings - and then they must know how to stay focused upon accomplishing the ministry God calls them to.
H. Sports Ministry will only be effective when the Bible is the very foundation of the ministry and when Bible Study is a major focus of the ministry. Two major goals of ministry should be to get non-believers into a Bible Study which is geared towards leading people to Christ and to get believers into Bible Studies which disciples them.
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/