This is the last in a series of blogs addressing the question: Is Sports Outreach Effective through the lens of the third Sports Outreach Continuum…
Sports Outreach Continuum of Tension #3:
Local Church Sports Outreach – Para-Sports Ministry
What follows is written to begin a conversation that will eventually lead to a better Sports Outreach Model.It is not intended to be intentionally offensive or hurtful.All truth seekers are invited to continue.
Summary of the Proposal The last blog ended by asking the Local Church Sports Ministry and sports related Para-Ministry worlds to come together for the ultimate purpose of being more effective in expanding and enhancing the Kingdom of Christ.I provided a few brief examples of how these two expressions of The Church could maximize their “evangelistic-disciplemaking” efforts, making them more effective, efficient, relevant and strategic.There are however, and unfortunately, obstacles that block such collaborative efforts.
Assessing the Obstacles Most sports ministries are led by former athletes and coaches.All athletes and coaches are by nature competitive.So it shouldn’t surprise anyone when I suggest the biggest obstacle to collaborative efforts has to do with personal and corporate competition!This “intra-mural” competition has two primary driving forces: a) resourcing; b) prestige and perhaps a third more insidious obstacle – ego!
Resourcing is a primary obstacle in the sense all sports ministries need to fund themselves and, for the most part, all ministries seek those funds from the same basic funding sources but prestige may be even more primal.Almost every sports related ministry communicates their vision/mission through the stories of elite athletes and coaches they claim to have impacted or influenced and this often causes angst in the hearts of many athletes and coaches…
The call came from a friend who was a university football coach.His team had experienced recent success on the football field (after years of success in developing true student athletes who were being discipled in Christ).Within weeks of each other, three sports-based, para-ministries arrived in the coach’s office to “serve” him and his team.He felt pressured by each of the para-ministries to associate with their ministry. He was further troubled by a sense of loyalty he felt to a local congregation’s sports outreach ministry that had been present in his life and the life of his team for many years.He honored and respected each of the para-ministries but was seeking guidance on how to navigate the competitive waters of the various sports ministries.He confided in me, he was a little put off by the fact the various ministries had never made contact with him during the years his team hadn’t won many games and wished they could all work together.It saddened him to realize how much “prestige” had to do with being associated with some sport ministries.
Assessing the Reality Most local congregations don’t have the expertise and/or experience to effectively engage the sports world (although this has dramatically changed in the last couple of decades).Most local churches are in need of, and would be blessed by, the resources, networks and overall assets many sports-related, para-ministries could bring them.To their shame, it would appear the only time local congregations call on their para-ministry brethren is when they want an elite sports figure to speak at their church!
Conversely, most sports-based, para-ministries lack the very resources (facilities, volunteer base, networks etc.) that are so prevalent in local congregations.Moreover, they lack the ability to provide long-term disciplemaking opportunities found in local churches.To their shame, it would appear para-ministries only call on a local congregation when they want financial support, or when they look for the church to “disciple” those who filled out a card to receive Christ at a recent “mega-event.”
A Clarion Call I humbly call on local congregations of the worldwide Church to humbly go to any and all of the sports-based, para-ministries they know of… humbly asking for their expertise and help in making their evangelistic-disciplemaking relevant and strategic.I would hope they would willingly offer their full support in all collaborative Kingdom work including the offer of co-funding a jointly supported and supervised staff person.
I also humbly call on all sports-based, para-ministries to humbly go to local congregations… humbly asking to base their ministry in and through the church which would include significant and regular personal participation in the church themselves, encouraging the elite athletes they were reaching to participate in the church with them, and also working to mobilize, train and equip local church members to do the sports outreach work of which they are experts in.
Multiplication not just addition The impact of local churches and para-ministries, willing to lay down their “but we’ve always done it that way” modes of operation and truly become seamless in their unified Kingdom efforts would totally revolutionize the Sports Outreach Movement.The world would never be the same.Rather than adding a convert to Christ here and there, the Kingdom would be catalytically changed through the multiplication of Sports Outreach leaders who will “produce, reproducing, reproducers!”
Effectively Efficient & Strategically Relevant In the final analysis, the Sports Outreach Movement can become increasingly effective whenever local congregations of the worldwide Church and sports-based, para-ministries truly partner.Until they do, we are wasting a most profound opportunity to be strategically relevant and effectively efficient.
Next week a new series of blogs will begin based on:
The 4th Sports-Outreach-Ministry Continuum: Process-Relational or Mega-Event. 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