Overcoming Obstacles in Local Church Sports Outreach Ministry #5 - Practical Objections
This set of blogs revisits and updates a series of articles that address common obstacles faced by many Local Church Sports & Recreation Ministers. The articles first appeared in CSRM’s Journal “The Sports Minister” and were originally written by Sports Ministry Pioneer Rodger Oswald. They appear here in edited excerpts. The end goal of the series is to help identify, define and explain various obstacles faced by Local Church Sports Outreach Ministers
Practical Objections to Church Sports Overview
Having addressed the major Biblical and Philosophical-based objections to Church Sports, I now move to objections based on practical matters. While Biblical and Philosophical issues are significant, the most prevalent obstacles Local Church Sports Ministers face are practical.
After careful analysis, I have concluded the major obstacle Sports Ministers face when initiating a new ministry into the life of the church can be summarized in one word: CHANGE. And, as you know, people don’t like change. It disrupts status quo, it mandates adjustments in the way people think and operate. Change moves churches into areas of the unknown, and some might even conclude change implies what a church has done historically hasn’t been good, or at least not good enough. The change created by adding a new ministry often strains relationships and causes relational difficulties amongst church staff and volunteers. In specific there are three practical areas of tension that arise when a Sports Ministry is initiated or expanded in a local church: finance; leadership; facility.
A hard reality when a ministry is added or expanded is the overall church budget doesn’t increase. Therefore, everyone’s “piece of the pie” diminishes. This makes it hard for leaders of existing ministries to embrace a new ministry when it comes at the expense of shrinking the portion of existing ministries budgets.
REALITY CHECK #1 - Church funds don’t belong to anyone person or ministry. They are the Lord’s funds given to local congregations to carry out the Lord’s work.
REALITY CHECK #2 – Sports Outreach Ministry is one of the few revenue generators in a church. People won’t pay to sing in the choir or to attend a Sunday School, but people will pay to participate in the church’s sports and recreation activities.
It is equally hard to embrace a new ministry if it means existing ministries lose either leaders or participants to the new ministry. Every local church ministry needs servants…the hand and feet that make a ministry go. Thus if a new, and often what is perceived as, a more exciting ministry “steals away” people, it is disdained by those leading existing ministries.
REALITY CHECK #1
As for servant stealing…you never steal anyone away from the Lord’s work. If the Lord lays a ministry on a person’s heart, you would be foolish to try to stop them from going. If they served you for a time, thank them, bless them and release them to the work God is calling them.
REALITY CHECK #2
Most churches with an effective Sports and Recreation Ministry mobilize many people who have never before been a church volunteer…many of whom acquire the “volunteer bug” and later serve in other church ministries. In addition, Sports Ministries attract many new people to the church and many of them eventually serve in many other church ministries. In other words, Sports Ministry gives people to other church ministries, it doesn’t take them away.
All ministries need space…whether it’s a field, gym or a basic room. At least at first, new ministries don’t bring new facilities. In fact, they take up a portion of the facilities other ministries used in the past. Now the new ministry has become a rival for space…something most churches never have enough of.
Should ministries that produce spiritual fruit and growth be stopped because facilities need to be shared? I have never known a church with sufficient facilities – regardless of how many they have. Space will always be a problem with a dynamic church. The goal of a church regarding facilities ought to be to have good communication, blessed cooperation, humble conciliation and flexible creativity.
Churches with effective Sports Outreach Ministries not only bring in new people but also new financial resources and this expanding critical mass often results in new, upgraded and ever expanding facilities, equipment and resources for the entire church.
Local congregations are wise to do all they can to enable and empower ministries that produce evangelistic-disciplemaking, and integrate them as directed by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4.1-3 where he called for unity.
Whatever the obstacle is that you face, the bottom line is to know you have: a) Biblical mandates and freedom for Sports Outreach; b) Historically-based, philosophical evidences; and c) Successful practical precedence to overcome any resistance you might face.
Next week’s blog will begin a series entitled: “Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses” which highlights historical Muscular Christian pioneers who created models for Local Church Sports & Recreation Ministry
This blog is an edited excerpt an article by Rodger Oswald originally published in “The Sports Minister” Journal – Spring 2000. 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 Rodger Oswald are archived at: www.csrm.org