REVIEW: Many church leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about the perception the Sports Outreach Movement has not delivered its promised results of accomplishing the Great Commission. This series of blogs addresses the underlying reasons for this through the lens of the Sports Outreach Ministry Continuums of Tension. Previous blogs articulated insights based on continuums 1-3. The current series considers the 4th Sports Outreach Ministry Continuum of Tension: Mega-event / Process Evangelism. This week’s focus is on the positives of “Process Evangelism” …
Why Process-based Evangelistic Endeavors are Effective
There are at least three main reasons the Philosophical Principle of Process-based Evangelism empowers The Church to most effectively achieve the Great Commission: a) it maximizes the power of long-term personal relationships; b) it provides long-term sustainable outreach; c) it provides a vehicle to communicate authenticity …
PERSONAL – As stated in the previous blog: “Research and personal experience tell us most people who profess faith in Christ, and become life-long Disciples of Christ do so through personal relationships, not by reading a tract, article or book.” What people seek is relationships in an impersonal culture and authenticity in a “virtual reality world.” This is especially true of the new generation. While they are attracted by the glitz and glamour of the beautiful but shallow culture, they yearn for personal authenticity. An evangelistic-disciplemaking philosophy built upon authentic, personal relationships provides what is being sought.
SUSTAINABLE MINISTRY – Again, as stated last week: “Almost every Christian…tells a similar story… (their) conversion occurred over a period of time…it takes a totally secularized, non-churched, not-yet-believing adult 6-7 years to profess faith in Christ and in addition, during that time, they experience positive relationships with 5-6 followers of Christ.” Churches have found their most effective evangelistic-disciplemaking efforts are those that connect with people over long periods of time. This is where sports and recreation activities are so strategically effective. Such outreaches provide the key element for keeping the secularized, non-churched, not-yet-believer involved over a long period of time…often years! The key is, such sports outreaches meet the perceived need of people. Non-religious people want fitness, competition, recreation and fellowship and will even come to a church if what is offered is authentic, of high quality and lovingly respectful. Sustainability in outreach is crucial for the success of any evangelistic-disciplemaking efforts.
AUTHENTICITY – A culture that promotes image over substance and bright lights over significance leaves a void in the hearts and lives of most people. While the lack of culture to provide substance and significance is disheartening, it does leave open a wide door for The Church to walk through. Unfortunately The Church has chosen Methodological Models that mirror, rather than meaningfully contrast with what culture offers. During the last 25 years most Americans and many throughout the world have witnessed the moral failings of many “celebrity” Christians, including many so-called Christian Athletes. Many, if not most, non-religious people have become increasingly cynical and weary of the “Platform Proclamation” of “talking heads.” Local church evangelistic-disciplemaking endeavors are most effective when they mobilize, empower, equip and enable parishioners for long-term, friendship based outreach and then provide them with opportunities (such as sports leagues) to foster authentic relationships with their non-churched friends, family and associates.
YET, SYNTHESIS OF THE TWO PHILOSOPHIC PRINCIPLES IS NEEDED – Next week’s blog will propose a new model for evangelistic-disciplemaking. It entails combining the best of both sides of the 4th Sports Outreach Continuum and minimizing the downsides of the two models. This synthesis is based upon the “5-B’s of Evangelistic-disciplemaking.”
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.html This 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
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.