The "5B's" of The Sports Outreach Movement: Envisioning Evangelistic-Disciplemaking Through Local Church Sports Outreach - Part #5
The “5-B’s Rubric of Evangelistic-Disciplemaking” of The Sports Outreach Movement – Part #5
This series of blogs describes and explains the “5-B’s” of Evangelistic-Disciplemaking of The Sports Outreach Movement. It continues with the second “B” - Believing
The second step in the “5-B’s Rubric” is: believing. The word believing is used to describe the conversion of a person who, by faith, enters into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In the 5-B Rubric, believing does not pre-date, nor is it a pre-requisite of belonging. Rather, as addressed in the previous point, believing is most successfully achieved in and through the belonging of an unchurched person to a local church Sports Outreach community. All the realities of believing, including all the blessings as well as the “thorns” are in full view of all. It is what is often described as “incarnational” ministry, meaning the Gospel is being communicated “incarnationally” (or in the flesh). What follows are a number key advantages to believing coming within, and as a result of, belonging to a local church Sports Outreach Ministry community.
First, it allows for followers of Christ to live out the gospel (proclamation) in and through “on the court” sporting activities. Through sports, Christians model how to overcome obstacles, persevere, strive for athletic excellence, be a consummate teammate, and also how to win or lose.
Second, it provides for “off the court” opportunities for Christians to befriend and love those far from Christ. The Gospel is communicated as teammates and even co-competitors (opponents) on other teams demonstrate a Christian ethic of love in action (proclamation). Not only how the unchurched are loved – in heartfelt, Christ-like ways – but perhaps more importantly and simply, that the unchurched are loved and cared for by those they hardly even know.
Third, belonging to a local church Sports Outreach Ministry community, leads to believing because it visually and verbally communicates “the cost of discipleship.” The unchurched person observes the sacrifices Christian teammates make for their faith. The costs are certainly made visible on the court, field or pitch, but perhaps more so, off the playing venues of sport. On the court, disciples of Christ compete in ways which are often out of sync with the current culture. This includes such things as refusing to cheat, take unfair advantage of, or physically harm co-competitors (opponents)…even if it means jeopardizing a chance to win a game. In addition Christians model the relentless pursuit of excellence in their sporting activities including, being the consummate “hustle” guy or “take one for the team” gal.
In addition, off the court, followers of Christ can be seen making priorities of such things as their family, vocation/career and Lord’s Day church participation. This living out of the Gospel proclaims the Gospel, which is affirmed during postgame devotionals when insights into beliefs, commitments and involvements are shared verbally. Christians, who verbalize how the Bible influences their thinking, provide direction for their lives, and strength for enduring life’s many struggles communicate a rationale for their faith that is relevant and poignant. It communicates the gospel in real life color – warts and all. It all works together for the gospel to be perceived over a period of time allowing for a deep comprehension of the blessings and costs of becoming a disciple of Christ.
Fourth, there’s no need for a transfer of new believers to a local church for a “discipleship program.” This is a most significant problem facing many sports-related, para-ministries. Coming to faith in Christ within a local church Sports Outreach Ministry community provides a natural process for moving the new believer through their spiritual journey to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. In fact, a lot of discipleship occurs on a regular basis within the sports ministry community of a local church, particularly the emphasis on self-control, perseverance and other important discipleship areas. I’ll state it more strongly…the sports ministry of a local church is one of, if not the, best place for such character-based discipleship lessons to be learned.
One additional significant aspect of this fourth point is, it is vital for new believers in Christ to begin to participate in corporate worship and Christian education experiences each Lord’s Day, and this process is greatly enhanced by the fact new believers are already familiar with the site of these activities because they have come to the site many times for their sports leagues and activities. More importantly, they will be escorted and/or welcomed by friends and faces who have become familiar through participation in the sports and recreation ministry of the church.
Fifth, belonging to a local church Sports Outreach Ministry community has a natural accelerator-effect for evangelistic-disciplemaking. The power of observing others experience life change through the gospel cannot be minimized. Hearing the testimonies of teammates professing initial faith in Christ and watching their spiritual growth over the course of time is incredibly inspirational and motivational; convicting even the most reluctant and reticent non-believer. These experiences all act as an accelerator to the gospel taking root in the lives of unbelievers and, in addition, are great inspirations to all believers observing the power of the gospel.
Sixth , the belonging/believing starting point of the “5-B Rubric” provides a great beginning for being affirmed by, and is also very complimentary with, the process missiologist have identified as being necessary for spiritual change to occur. This process will be discussed in the next blog.
This blog is an excerpt from chapter #3 of Dr. Linville's yet to be released book – Sports Ministry Fundamentals. 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 other local church Sports, Rec & Fitness Ministers are archived at: http://www.csrm.org/blog/
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.