WILL THERE BE ONE?
Last summer I presented seminars at a summer Chautauqua on the topic of Muscular Christianity and also to a Church on a related subject. Combined total attendance was over 200 people but less than five had ever heard of Muscular Christianity! It is likely you too have lived in blissful "non-Muscular Christian" awareness. What's amazing is, we live less than a century after Muscular Christianity's hey-day and yet no one recognizes the term that described a world-wide movement, shaped an entire culture and inspired the modern day Olympics! Could the current Sports Outreach Era be headed for a similar future? Sadly, many in the Sports Outreach Movement cite disturbing trends which could well spell a similar fate.
THE SPORTS OUTREACH MOVEMENT CONSISTS OF FOUR MAIN COMPONENTS:
A few are growing but most are static or declining. Since 2005, the Local Church segment of the Sports Outreach Movement has seen a decline in churches offering sports programs and the numbers of Professional Local Church Recreators and Sports Ministers dwindle. Why? Two main Methodological reasons - reliance upon a model of "personality, rather than presence;" and of "leading with buildings rather than building leaders."
PERSONALITY OVER PRESENCE
The “Achilles heel” of the Sports Outreach Movement is its preferred model: “Platform Proclamation.” “Platform Proclamation” seeks to provide a “Platform” for “Christian” athletes & coaches to share their faith. This methodology is flawed on two counts. First, it is rare to find Christian athletes adequately prepared to speak theologically and thus their “proclamations” are at best, unwise, and at worst, misleading or even heretical. Second, all too often the personal lives of the “proclaiming” athletes don’t match their “proclamations.” This results in an increasingly cynical world with fewer and fewer people willing to “tune in” Christian athletes who frequently don’t live in ways congruent with the Biblical faith they espouse. The motives of many athletes aren’t wrong. A better model is needed.
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.