Sunday Sport? The Sabbath/Lord’s Day in Relationship to Sports Outreach Ministry
Sunday Sports is perhaps the most controversial issue confronting the Sports Outreach Movement. Many Sports and Recreation Ministers, Church Recreators and Fitness Ministry leaders wrestle with whether or not to program sports outreach activities on a Sunday and almost every Christian athlete, coach and athletic director has already made a decision on whether or not they will play, coach or organize sport on Sunday. Christian families are also faced with the question of their “sporty” kids’ priorities and commitments. Specifically, should their children participate in “travel team,” AAU or other specialized and/or elite athletic sports activities if they occur on a Sunday?
The answer to Sunday Sports cannot be determined quickly and must not be pre-decided by the often emotional desire to play sport at a high level…even if that desire is tied up with a desire to utilize one’s sport to glorify God and/or reach others for God. The good news is that an answer can be ascertained by reflection on five key Level #1 Theological Truths: a) Sabbath Day; b) Lord’s Day; c) Ecclesiology (theology of The Church) in relationship to church association and participation; d) Missiology (theology of missions) in relationship to biblical principles of reaching those far from Christ; and e) Soteriology (theology of salvation) in relationship to evangelism and discipleship. The issue of Sunday Sport is indeed uniquely linked with each of these Level #1 Theological Truths and a complete understanding or decision cannot be made without a thorough theological examination.
Sabbath and Lord’s Day 
The theological foundation for athletes and their families considering participating in Sunday sporting activities begins with understanding the biblical mandates and principles concerning the Sabbath and Lord’s Day. The two are similar, interconnected, and yet remain two separate entities. This week we will look at the Sabbath…
A brief overview of foundational statements concerning the Sabbath as it relates to local church sports consists of the following five foundations. First, “honoring the Sabbath Day” is the 4th law of the Ten Commandments. Second, the Ten Commandments were spoken once, and written twice by God. Third, the penalty for breaking one of them was a death by stoning. Fourth, the 4th commandment is the only one of the ten discussed in all five books of the Law! Fifth, when the priority of the Ten Commandments, in terms of their order, is properly understood, the significance of the Sabbath Day Commandment is even more profound as it is number four! While all ten are vital, God leads with the weightier ones so as to communicate each serves as the foundation for obeying the ones that follow.
Bearing these five foundational points in mind, the two renditions of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5) are affirmed by many other Old Testament passages and reveal three main Level #2 Philosophical Principles.  The way the day is to be honored and observed is to be as: a) a day of rest; b) a day of worship; and c) a day of witness. Thus, the fourth Commandment is foundational for obeying the six commandments that follow and it also helps fulfill the commands of the first three.
The bottom line is, Christ followers have no option as to whether or not they are to observe the day, as to keep it holy. We are commanded to observe the day, keeping it holy. We do however have some leeway in how this observance is manifested. This observance will be further clarified and more fully explained by next week’s blog on Lord’s Day considerations. 
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's yet to be released book. 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 NW Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
 The full discussion on Sabbath and Lord’s Day considerations for local church sports outreach is found in chapter 6 of my book - Christmanship. The discussion here is but an overview of the subject. Any serious consideration of whether or not to participate in Sunday sport must include the treatise in the Christmanship book along with what is proposed here. See the bibliography of the book for additional books on this and related topics.
 See the following: Gen, 2.2; Neh. 8.1-8 & 10.28-39 & 13.15-21; Isaiah 56.2-6 & 58.13, 14; Ezekiel 20.1-31 & 46.1.
 Again, please see chapter 6 of my book Christmanship for a full discussion on the Lord’s Day and its relevance for local church sports ministry. What is offered here is but a mere and partial summary of this most vital theological truth.
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.