Communicating One’s Faith Through Sports Related “Proclamation Platforms”
As discussed in the previous blog, most Christian sportspeople want to maximize their sports opportunities for the glory of God and including being able to verbally encourage others to consider becoming a disciple of Christ. Therefore, it would seem counter-intuitive to ask these sincere people to consider forgoing participating in sport on Sunday. However, there is most often a surprising unintended result that occurs when Christian consistently participate in sporting activities on the Lord’s Day; especially when it clearly conflicts with traditional times for church worship services! These well-intentioned and properly motivated intentions often have the exact opposite effect of that which is desired by Sports Outreach Evangelists! By participating in sport on Sunday, athletes subtly communicate church is a lower priority than sport itself. Most often, those who are far from Christ realize the ones who call themselves Christians deem sport a higher priority than church…. well, you can draw your own conclusions. The question must be asked: “What does skipping church to participate in sport really communicate?”
A far better argument can be made for someone who forgoes attending church to reach out to those playing sport on Sunday but does not participate in sport so as to clearly communicate they are there for ministry, rather than arguing for playing sport for evangelistic reasons. (I further elaborate this point in my book on the Fundamentals of Sports Outreach Ministry of which this blog is excerpted from). To repeatedly show up at sporting events for the express purpose of reaching those who play sport is made far more powerful when the “evangelists” don’t participate, than when they do, especially if they are good enough athletes to compete! The reason is, their purpose for showing up at the sporting events is clear: They are there for spiritual reasons, not athletic pursuits! When participating in the sport, their motives are not clearly communicated. The validity of this argument is made obvious by seeing the result in the numbers of people who show up at a Sunday sport event to “evangelize” as compared to those who would come if they could “play.” It is even more apparent by assessing how many of those team-members end up coming to church, coming to Christ and actively grow in their faith!
The next blog in this series will how sporting involvements preclude receiving the sacraments
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's book yet to be released book – Sports Ministry Fundamentals. 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 other local church Sports, Rec & Fitness Ministers 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.