Is Sports Outreach Working? The Sports Outreach Movement emerged in the mid-20th Century, and was touted as a most strategic tool for Evangelism, Discipleship and church growth. Most Sports Outreach Ministers believe it to be the most strategic tool the church can employ to accomplish the Great Commission, but many church leaders are beginning to wonder whether it has delivered its promised results. They are asking…has the Sports Outreach Movement lived up to its hype? For all the hoopla, has the Sports Outreach Movement been a significant force for evangelism? If so, then why hasn’t the church grown these past 70 years? It’s also worth asking…if Sports Outreach is so effective why does it seem to be on the decline? A few sobering trends:
Many churches are phasing out their Sports Ministries and laying off their Sports Ministers
Sports related Para-ministries such as FCA, AIA and Baseball Chapel have come under huge attacks from friend and foe including two recently published books highly criticize Sports Outreach Ministries
Shirl Hoffman’s “Good Game”
Thomas Krattenmaker’s “Onward Christian Athletes”
Para-Ministries report fewer churches using their resources, attending conferences, buying their products
Many Universities are curtailing their Sports Outreach degrees and curriculum
There is no hard data on the decline of Sports Outreach Movement as this is a vastly under researched field, however, these trends are verified by Sports Ministry leaders who are growing increasingly concerned. While the bad news is, these facts and trends may well be true and valid, the good news is there are insights which can help to explain some of the facts and trends. In addition, there are answers which can empower the Sports Outreach Movement to new levels of effectiveness and efficiency…that is, for those willing to face facts and remain open to change how they perceive and implement Sports Ministry.
This series of blogs continues to address the topic of Sports Outreach Effectiveness as evaluated through an exposition and discussion of the Six Sports Outreach Continuums of Tension which are impacting the current trends in Sports Outreach Ministry.
These continuums are:
Christianity - Sportianity
Christmanship - Gamesmanship
Para-ministry - Local Church
Mega-Event – Process/Relational
Celtic - Roman Evangelism
Formal Training - Informal Training
Previous blogs have discussed continuums 1-3. The current series will discuss the fourth continuum.
Overview of the 4th Continuum – Mega-event – Process/Relational Ministry Models Definitions are needed. Mega-event ministry is defined by a series of words and phrases: a) large; b) “one-off” events; c) relatively impersonal; d) media driven. Large meaning the mega-event is designed to reach a large number of people. “One-off” communicates the mega-event is a one week, one day or even a one hour event. Impersonal connotes the use of audio, visual and/or written media that is offered for individuals to interact with on their own time. Impersonal can also refer to an elite athlete or coach “proclaiming their faith” to a large gathering of people that they have little or no personal relationship with. Media driven assumes the outreach is impersonal.
Process/relational is also defined by a series of words and phrases: a) one-on-one or small group; b) continual, long-term activities for the initiation and continuation of personal relationships; c) intensely personal; d) people driven. The process/relational philosophy of sports outreach assumes the evangelistic-disciplemaking activities are based in long-term, repeatable activities that create an environment and culture that empowers the building of personal relationship between disciples of Christ and those far from Christ.
Next Blogs The next series of blogs will take a look at both these approaches and will offer a proposal that a) both are needed and b) how the Sports Outreach Movement can integrate the different philosophies for maximum ministry effectiveness and resource efficiency.
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