Can you name all the Para-ministries Barnabas created? How about Paul? Peter? John? James? None? Now how many 1st century churches can you name? Jerusalem, Antioch, Derbe, Lystra, Philippi, Thessaloniki, Berea, Corinth, Rome, the scores of home churches in Ephesus, just to list a few. Interesting isn’t it?
I recently received an encouraging note from a good friend in the Sports Outreach world. I sincerely mean it was encouraging. It told of the hundreds of millions of people who had received a verbal message about Jesus Christ through sporting activities. Even better was how many of them indicated they made a decision to follow Jesus. Then it struck me! Not a word about how many churches were begun!
The book of Acts records cutting edge missionary activity. It tells the unbelievable story of how a small number of enterprising men spread the gospel to an entirely secular world. Many were uneducated, most were persecuted and all were underfunded. Yet Christianity spread throughout the world in one generation. It did what massive armies couldn’t: it conquered the mighty Roman Empire. How did this happen? How did these ill-trained and under-resourced men do it? What was their strategy? Start churches!
I think it’s time the Sports Outreach Family rethinks its strategy. It’s time to plant, rebuild and renew churches. I’m not saying we don’t need Para-ministries. I’m a big believer in Para-ministries. I helped found one and continue as its Executive Director, but I am absolutely convinced the Biblical Model is not to create ministries but rather establish and renew churches! I challenge Sports Ministry leaders to rethink their strategy and methodology. We should not so much seek decisions for Christ as much as we should work to make disciples of Christ... disciples who establish and grow churches.
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.