By Josef Solc
Review by Kiristina Bolton
When Josef Solc left his home of Czechoslovakia in 1968 to pursue a life of a pastor over professional athlete status, he took with him a wealth of knowledge about the skeletal fundaments of sports and building upon them the body of Christ. Although widely known for his natural stardom in the arena of tennis and ice hockey, Solc gave up this path and picked up a new direction in the field of ministry. His calling to evangelism and life within the church was in direct contrast from the communist rule governing his country. In his book, Communication on the Playing Field, Solc recalls the process of laying down sports for himself and picking up sports for the sake of sharing the Gospel with others.
Communication on the Playing Field is more than a book. It’s a template for those who are interested in taking sports to the next level and using it as a trajectory into sports ministry for the Kingdom of God. The beginning of the book is dedicated to the history of Christianity and sports, highlighting the similarities and differences of hobbies and holiness as well as setting the foundation for people to evaluate their own process through sports.
From the introduction of why sports can be used for a platform of ministry, Solc enters into the Biblical foundations of sport ministry. Like most athletes, he argues that sports is the best way to reach most people as a common ground for many individuals, yet as a pastor, he stresses the magnitude of keeping to the teachings of Jesus and not relying on one’s own interpretation of the gospel.
Solc’s reliance on the teachings of Jesus shapes his theology of sports ministry and how it should be presented to others. In every circuit of ministry, believers and nonbelievers depend on the common ground between them. And under the belief of God, there are several facets that need to be addressed in every ministry. Solc discusses the distinction between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and delves into the world of life in the spirit of Christ.
The other half of the book is dedicated to taking what is learned through the Word of God and doing what the title says, communicating on the playing field. Whatever we know is only as good as how we live it out. Solc does an excellent job of bridging the doing part with the knowing part. Where the first half of the book gives an overview of why we need sports ministry, the second half offers an answer to how we should use sports ministry. He lays out strategies in planning sports ministries and providing proven methods in leading other to Christ while playing the sports we love.
In underlining the importance of sports ministry in today’s culture, Solc seems to spend more time setting the stage for communicating on the playing field than actually showing the way one can communicate to other athletes. The book can be easily be based on the last three chapters about planning and promoting a sports ministry, yet would risk losing the theological foundations every person should know or at least be reminded of. Because Solc is European, some of the terms are more relevant in a European setting, but that doesn’t underplay the importance of his experience and what he has taught other through sports. For the sports lover or the sports teacher, Solc’s book offers a multidimensional lens on sports and its ministry for others.
Where to get this book: Amazon.com