Local Church Sports Outreach Ministry Syndromes
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 excerpts from Dr. Linville’s Manual: “Initiating A Sports Ministry in the Local Church.” The end goal of the series is to help identify, define and explain various “syndromes” that can short circuit a successful and effective Sports Outreach in a Local Church.
The “Step Child Syndrome”
Local Church Sports and Recreation Ministries are often treated as second class citizens within the local church. This is made manifest in four specific ways…
Defining “Real Ministry”
1. Often members of a local congregation perceive the “real ministry” of the church occurs on the Lord’s Day, and only in the Sanctuary. They believe all ministries “good” but only value the more traditional ministries such as preaching, worship, Christian Education and youth ministry, considering only them to be spiritual and necessary. Church members must realize that while some people are gifted and called by God to teach a class, sing in a choir, or serve in the nursery, others are gifted and called by God to evangelize through sport or to disciple through coaching. God has gifted members of His Church to be involved in many different ministries and various kinds of outreaches. None of these ministries are more important or less blessed of God. While at certain times or in certain ways one must take priority over the other, all must be recognized as important and equal. The Bible clearly teaches that all members of the body of Christ are equally important (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12.3-8; Ephesians 4.13).
2. When church members assume that traditional ministries are the most important, and are the only real necessary ministries of a church, they overlook the Great Commission. Matthew 28.19,20 clearly indicates the major expectation for followers of Christ is to go to all the world to “make disciples.” When church members place a higher emphasis on maintenance ministries (ministries which only serve the needs of the current members and attendees), they in essence, have relegated outreach to nonbelievers to a second class standing and have focused only on discipling to the exclusion of evangelism. Furthermore, they fail to recognize that sports ministries may well be the most effective ministry a church has for discipling. Thus, it is of vital importance for the leadership of the church to not just accommodate a Sports Ministry, but rather, raise it to its proper level of respect and strategic Biblical prominence in the everyday life of the church.
Defining “Real Ministers”
3. Second class citizenship also becomes apparent in how they view and care for their Sports Ministers. Because Sports Ministers are viewed to be “second tier,” they are typically paid less than other staff members…often amongst the lowest of the entire staff. They are not viewed with the same respect or with the same esteem as other staff members. If one truly believes the Scriptural teachings that all gifts are equal, then each staff member must be viewed as equal as well.
4. Beyond, a general lack of honor and accompanying lower pay, one of the key ways Sports Ministers are slighted is in the lack of official ministerial recognition by congregations and/or denominations. Whereas churches usually do not allow their other ministerial staff members to serve without ordination, recording or licensing, they often do not require or confer this same recognition upon their Sports Ministry staff. This harms the Sports Minister from a professional standpoint as well as financially because ordination is almost always tied to a higher salary. If all staff members are viewed as having equally important ministries, then all should be ordained, recorded or at least licensed…and paid accordingly.
What’s a Sports Minister To Do?
A) Get Theologically and Ministerially trained (including degrees)
B) Seek Ordination/Recording or Licensing
C) Look to build synergistic relationships and ministries with other church staff
D) Be present, and take a leadership position, in Lord’s Day services and ministries
Next week’s blog will discuss the first Local Church Sports Outreach Ministry Syndrome – “The All They Do Is Play Syndrome”
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's Manual "Initiating a Sports Ministry in the Local Church as reproduced in "The Sports Minister" Journal - Fall 1999. 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 email@example.com
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.