ST. Patrick...The Man, The Myth, The Model for Sport, Recreation and Fitness (SRA&F)Ministers...
Really you say! What can I possibly learn from some guy who's been dead for nearly two millennia? A lot...
The Man: Patrick was really a Briton who felt a call to reach the Celtic Barbarians...and he followed that call even though he was quite a bit older than the normal life expectancy of his day. His mission work in Ireland set in motion a Celtic model of Evangelistic-Disciplemaking that continues to shape the SR&F Outreach Community.
The Myth: Patrick's story has became quite embellished through the years and increasingly secularized...all ending with a day that centers around Green Beer and ungodly revelry. Such "celebrations" and perspectives of Patrick could not be further from the truth.
The Reality: Patrick's efforts changed an entire culture and impacted eternity for millions. Patrick was incredibly effective in his Evangelistic-Disciplemaking efforts which resulted in: a) over 700 churches planted; b) thousands of missionary priests ordained; c) tens of thousands of barbarians being baptized; d) ongoing efforts that continue to reach those far from Jesus and His Church.
While I can only hope to even come close to those numbers, Patrick's model was a guiding light to my personal ministry as a local church Sports Minister. I incorporated the following principles into my SR&F Outreach Ministry....
Perhaps next year you can sponsor a St. Patrick's Day celebration that would include resourcing; training, equipping and empowering a new generation of local church SR&F Outreach Missionaries
Dr. Greg Linville is CSRM's Director of Resource Development and his latest book (Putting The Church Back in the Game) can be ordered through the CSRM website
In Part I and Part II the subject of being biblically relevant was addressed – that relevancy being determined by your ministry’s commitment to incorporating the Word of God into your sports, recreation or fitness ministry activities; as well as by attending to those who have responded to the gospel by getting them started on the “discipleship road.”
Having addressed these two subjects, perhaps it is time to be specific about this process of making disciples.
Matthew 28:19,20 is often used as the “classic” Great Commission verse and often preached as the call to go to the nations and preach the gospel. What sometimes is lost is the priority of discipleship as we obey Jesus Christ. While verse 19 begins with “Go, therefore …” or “Go, ye…,” (giving the impression that evangelism is the key thought here), the fact is in these two verses, there really is only one imperative (command) verb and it follows the command to “go.” The imperative of our Lord Jesus is to “make disciples.” The balance of the verbs in verses 19 and 20 are called participial or helping verbs which tells us HOW we are to make disciples. Sorry for the grammar lesion, but the “go” of verse 19 is actually “as you are going” … to do what? To make disciples. The aspect of evangelism is assumed in these two verses in light of the fact the one evangelized (and the one who responded) would, then, be baptized and taught (the other two “helping verbs”). God’s greater concern is not making converts, but making disciples.
As we consider this in light of Sports Ministry, what tools are available to assist in this process of making disciples … of keeping the Word of God integrated into our programs? While the following is not a complete list, it certainly will get you moving in the right direction. By the way, all of these resources can be found on the CSRM website:
Rodger Oswald was founder of, and long time Executive Director of Church Sports International; Professor of Sports Ministry at The Masters College and is currently a CSRM Staff Emeritus. His writings can be accessed through the CSRM Webstie - https://csrm.z2systems.com/np/clients/csrm/giftstore.jsp
Mental Health- The Missing Link
The stats are alarming. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (as of 2016), nearly 1 in 5 adults in America battle some sort of mental illness in their lives.1 That’s not a statistic to be taken lightly.
I’m one of that 20%.
Growing up, did I ever think I would someday be writing about any type of mental illness that I was battling? Not in a thousand years! As far as I knew, I was a happy child with a positive outlook on life. Never could I have imagined what I would face down the road of life.
As an adult, and as life began to become a bit overwhelming, I started to struggle with negativity. From there it was a slow decline. While I was in the Word, I wasn’t applying many of its truths to my own life. I had been listening to the lies of the enemy my whole life, but only now was I truly taking these lies upon myself as a part of my identity. The self-talk in my mind was ugly.
Wounds from my childhood (and one traumatic incident which occurred 2 months prior to my breakdown) that I didn’t even know the depths of began to open and infect my soul. Have you ever tried to be absolutely perfect on all fronts because inside you feel lost, empty, unlovable, never good enough, and always fear the worst? I have. For 33 years. I just didn’t see it for equally as long.
It took the darkest week of my life, which landed me in the ER believing I was dying, for me to begin to see what damage had been done in my mind. That whole summer was really a blur for me. The darkness, the torment, the crying out to God, the fear that took over my every move, the burden that became physical pain, the inability to leave my house, the plans I made for my family in case I should die… it was as if I was living someone else’s life. Surely this wasn’t what had become of me.
I’ll admit that prior to my own battles, I didn’t take seriously the battles others faced. Anxious? Stop worrying! Depressed? Get out of bed! Suicidal? How dare you not consider those around you!
My entire experience opened my heart to a type of compassion I’d never known before. I knew I wasn’t the only one struggling, and yet I never heard anyone talk about it- especially within the Church. Why wasn’t this talked about? I was determined to be open about my story.
But in doing so, people didn’t know what to do with me. By being open and honest with my journey, I may as well have posted a “fragile: breaks easily” sign on my forehead. Yes, I had some who were abundantly kind, prayerful, and supportive, but others, may I be blunt, were clueless and quickly distanced themselves.
The world is waking up to the reality of the grim situation we’re finding ourselves in, but is the Church? I know this is finally becoming something that is talked about on talk shows, news specials, in our schools, and even now amongst pro athletes… but where are the people of God? At least in my life experience, the topic of mental health has been kept at arm’s length (or further) within the Church. But why is that when God cares about all parts of who we are: body, mind, and spirit? The Bible has a lot to say about our thoughts and minds, yet we tend to brush right by those parts as if they don’t apply to us or wouldn’t actually make a difference in our mental health.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian Cognitive Neuroscientist, in her book Switch On Your Brain states, “Research shows that 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life.”2 Let’s take that seriously and apply God’s Word as He intended! Dr. Leaf goes on to say, “Thoughts are real, physical things that occupy mental real estate. Moment by moment, every day, you are changing the structure of your brain through your thinking. When we hope, it is an activity of the mind that changes the structure of our brain in a positive and normal direction.”2
We can’t afford to keep pretending this isn’t present in our ministries and in those we’re trying to reach. If it truly is affecting 1 in 5, then it is much more prevalent in our circles than we could ever imagine.
Questions to Consider:
First and foremost, we must take Scripture to heart:
Help get them professional Christian counseling if you see a need.
Finally, make sure to create a culture where there is no shame. We don’t distance ourselves from those who develop diabetes, do we? Cancer? Heart disease? So, why do we see a mental “illness” as any different than any other illness? Treat people with known mental struggles just as you would anyone else. Allow them to talk freely about their journey without any shame or embarrassment. Ask them to share their victories and then celebrate with them!
The harvest is great but the workers are few. If we don’t care for our mental health, just as we do our physical health, we won’t be able to serve the kingdom as much and as long. Let us do all we can to help leaders within our own ministries, as well as those whom we serve daily, become stronger in body, mind, and spirit.
Later this year, I’ll be back to talk about one more specific area we should be covering as we teach others (and learn for ourselves!) about wholistic health and what that might look like as a component of your ministry. In the meantime, feel free to join me over at http://fixyoureyesonhim.com for other wholistic health tips, resources, and more!
Amber Lauren of Fix Your Eyes on Him Biblical Health and Wholeness
Amber is a regular contributor to the CSRM Blog; wife of a Lead Pastor; Mother of three; and a passionate follower of Jesus.
Link to free printable version for distribution (unaltered) to those in your ministry: https://fixyoureyesonhim.com/download/3533/
(In case you missed them, you can check out Parts 1 and 2 of this series on Wholistic Health here: http://www.csrm.org/apps/search?q=Amber)
"Beware the I'ds of March." I often wonder if procrastination might be one of my spiritual gifts. I find it easy to put off until tomorrow what I don’t want to do today. In several classroom lectures, I will ask my students how many of them suffer from the same delay difficulties. When several hands go up, I’ll offer them the news of a Procrastinators Support group that meets in Oxford. Some student’s eyes will show a look of hope only to have it dashed when I inform them that I have yet to attend any of the meetings. It’s at that point they realize I pulled them right into the middle of a joke. We discuss procrastination quite often in my classes. I share the following procrastination story:
Last month when we had a follow up in one of our districts, where church leaders had organized a Sports Outreach. After having all sports activities completed (namely soccer and netball which are the most loved in Malawi) we gathered all the people to listen to the Word of God verbally proclaimed. After our Pastor shared the Word of God, one man stood and cried loudly and saying he needed to confess that he had been used to kill Albino people throughout the country. He further stated he wanted to receive Jesus Christ before, he surrendered himself into police hands.
This was a most shocking and amazing confession, as many people albino people have been killed for ritual beliefs in Malawi and Tanzania. All Police intelligence failed to trace the killers but through Sports Ministry Outreach a dangerous criminal surrendered to Christ and right now, he is the hands of police, but importantly is preaching the Word of God as well... from criminal to a preacher! But the Lord wasn't done....
At that same occasion 15 other people also confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ. We will not include any picture due to the sensitive matter, but I can assure you it was a very touching follow up and encouraging to see such people received Jesus Christ. We praise the Lord for His rich outpouring and we thank the entire CSRM family for their support and prayers.
CSRM's Global Network Partner - James Mhango - you can support James at the following...
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