Overcoming Obstacles in Local Church Sports Outreach Ministry #1 - Biblical Objections Part A
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
As churches attempt to launch a Sports and Recreation Ministry, the effort often meets with resistance. Sometimes it’s a reluctant pastor, sometimes a suspicious leadership, and sometimes “turf-minded” staff. Usually, the obstacles raised fall into three specific categories: Biblical, Philosophical and Practical. The following blogs will examine each of these three obstacles and their sub-points. It is important to address these obstacles because Sports and Recreation Ministry can contribute significantly to the “evangelistic-disciplemaking” endeavors of The Church.
There are six common biblical arguments often raised to resist initiating a Sports and Recreation Ministry in a local church: a) I Timothy 4.8; b) concerns about purity; c) idolatry; d) Sunday sport; e) stumbling block issues; and f) promoting a non-Christian environment. This blog discusses the first two concerns.
1 Timothy 4.8 – “Physical Training is of Little Value”
On occasion the challenge to sports based ministry has been based upon 1 Timothy 4.8. Those using this verse say physical activity should be avoided, and therefore sports would be equally indicted. The problem with this conclusion is that it represents very poor exegesis. 1 Timothy 4.8 is not an attack on sports or on physical activity. The Apostle Paul is exhorting Timothy to maintain proper priorities in his life. Timothy is pastoring a church in Ephesus – which by the way – is just across the sea from Greece where an inordinate emphasis is placed on the body. The exhortation is that Timothy is to prioritize spiritual discipline over physical discipline. Paul does not say physical discipline (i.e., physical activity) has no profit/benefit, but rather that spiritual discipline has both temporal and eternal value. Therefore, it should be prioritized. I don’t believe any Sports Minister has a problem with that. While agreeing, it does not preclude Sports Ministry being a part of a church’s ministry. [See the parallel blog written by Dr. Greg Linville on the exegesis of 1Timothy 4.6-8 - and/or his book “Christmanship” for an extended discussion on this passage and topic. The book can be ordered at: http://www.csrm.org/store/c4/BOOKS.html]
Sometimes passages are cited that deal with purity in life and the avoidance of sin with the conclusion that one should avoid sports. The problem, however, is not sports, but one’s actions or attitudes while participating in sport. Of course, the same could be true of any activity, and thus this principle should not be applied exclusively to sports or recreation. In fact, one must define SIN before condemning sports and recreation. Again, it is not the activity itself, but one’s reasons for involvement, one’s actions while involved, and one’s attitudes during and after involvement that will determine sinfulness. A sport, a game or just exercise cannot be described as sinful based on a biblical definition of sin. All of these are quite neutral and, therefore, should not be “disqualified” from church ministry.
Next week’s blog will discuss the second set of Biblical Obstacles to Sports Outreach
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.