Local Church Sports Outreach Ministry - Gender Related Issues
The blogs in this series are excerpts from Dr. Linville’s yet to be released book. They explore the realities occurring in local church Sports Outreach Ministries in relationship to an evolving culture, and shifting trends within sport, The Church and society in general. This blog introduces the topic.
What’s a Local Church Sports Minister To Do?
Local church Recreators and Sports Ministers were attracted to the ministry to reach and disciple people for Christ. They love organizing leagues, clinics and leagues for a church, Sometimes, they even get a chance to play, coach and/or officiate sports they love. They can even put up with the occasional overly-passionate “soccer mom,” over-bearing “baseball dad” or over-zealous coach. However, they are increasingly finding themselves embroiled in the societal powder keg of the cultural shifts regarding gender issues. Many have contacted denominational leaders, universities and various sports-related para-ministries to find answers and help, but most have reported disappointment with the lack of, and/or depth of, the responses they received. Let’s look at the current scenarios they are facing.
The New Face of Local Church Sports Ministry in Light of the Gender Issue Revolution
Scenario #1: Church Recreators and Sports Ministers are struggling with changes in cultural values as they impact women’s sports leagues. Never before have they been faced with finding compassionate ways to relate to all women registering for their women’s softball league in light of a growing trend of transgenderism. Women on opposing teams who play third base fear losing their teeth due to the speed of the batted ball from transgendered players. In addition, women on opposing teams, as well as teammates, are extremely uncomfortable sharing changing rooms, showers and restroom facilities with transgendered league members. Serving/reaching the transgendered woman is often at variance with serving/reaching all other women. The possibility of following the lead of a secular society in regards to transgenderism is very real and even more troubling is the high likelihood that the church’s interaction with the transgendered will be negative and not at all Christ-like. While the same could be theoretically true of transgendered men, the reality is, it is rare for transgendered men to desire to participate in men’s sporting activities.
Scenario #2: Parents of an eight year old complain the local church Sports Outreach ministry has placed their child in gender specific league (boys or girls league) before their child has “chosen a gender.” As a result, church leaders recommend the Sports Minister to make all leagues co-gender.
Scenario #3: Roy and Sam (two men) are legally married and apply to coach in the local church’s boys’ basketball league. When other parents become aware of this possibility, they demand refunds and exit the league in masse.
Scenario #4: Susan and Felicia were former collegiate varsity players, are legally married and register for a married couples’ volleyball league. The league rules specifically dictate how there has to be an equal number of men/women on the court at the same time. Each woman on Susan and Felicia’s team has to sit out extra serves because their team is short one man and has one extra woman.
A Plea For Grace
This set of blogs discusses the most socially charged issue of our day. The author is attempting to seek truth, provide both questions and answers to further the discussion, engage in civil discourse and most importantly provide a haven for love and grace. I encourage all readers to: “know your mind, but not have your mind made up.” As Martin Luther stated, I believe we should be open to being persuaded by Holy Scripture and evident reason (logic). I start by asking for grace when I don’t use the right term to describe something or someone, and I plead for forgiveness when I offend someone due to my own fallen nature, insensitivity, ignorance or callousness. My intent is not to intentionally hurt or injure anyone, but rather it is to seek Christ’s will for all of us who are attempting to follow Jesus as we travel this path together.
Next week’s blog will continue this series on addressing Gender issues in relationship to Sports Outreach Ministry by establishing definitions and talking points.
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
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville are archived at: www.csrm.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.