Overcoming Obstacles in Local Church Sports Outreach Ministry #1 - Biblical Objections Part B
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 and 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
Local Church Sports Ministers commonly encounter six Biblically-based arguments against a church sponsoring a Sports Outreach Ministry. The first two were addressed in the first blog in this series on overcoming obstacles. This blog will evaluate the second set of two: a) idolatrous activity; and b) Sunday Sport.
While most would agree there is potential for idolatry in sports, it should be remembered this potential exists for any human endeavor…even preaching! Indeed making an idol of sport is to be avoided but this potential should not override what Biblically-based sport can do. For example, one of the key values of a Local Church Sports Ministry is that you can help people understand and live out what Colossians 3.23 admonishes: that all areas of life are to be lived to the glory of God, not man. It has been said that the difficult things in life provide the opportunity to teach and to be taught and so even the difficult times experienced through sport can be opportunities for learning and growth. Thus, Sports Ministry gives the opportunity for deeper discipleship and even teach how to avoid idolatry.
Sunday Sport Issues
A very strong argument that usually arises from pastors is that sports often take place on Sunday, and thus is a detriment to the church. First, the condemnation of sports, because of this objection, needs to be clarified. We must differentiate between professional and/or amateur sports. Professional sportsmen do not get to determine their schedule. Sport is their job, and their work schedule is determined by the league, team owners and coaches. I’m not sure too many of us would object to a fireman working on Sunday…especially if our house was on fire. I’m not sure too many of us would object if a cardiac surgeon worked on Sunday…especially if we suffered cardiac arrest. Having said that, I do believe that the professional athlete who is a Christian is obligated to observe the Lord’s Day. If he or she cannot do that on Sunday, then they are to identify another day to honor God.
I agree the amateur athlete belongs in church on Sunday (Hebrews 10.24,25), but with one exception. Should your church develop a Sports Ministry that includes evangelistic ministry teams (such as a jail/prison outreach), you might find those whom you are ministering to will determine when to come…and that just might be on a Sunday. The question, then, is should we “go to church” or should we “be the church?” Ultimately, we need to ask: What would Jesus do?
[Two recommendations for those interested in a deeper examination of the Lord’s Day and Sunday Sport issues would be to review many archived blogs on the CSRM and also to read the chapter dedicated to Lord’s Day Issues in Dr. Linville’s book – “Christmanship” which can be ordered at - http://www.csrm.org/store/c4/BOOKS.html]
Next week’s blog will discuss the third set of Biblical Obstacles to Sports Outreach: Stumbling Block Issues and Sports as Pagan Activities
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
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.