Book review by Rev. Danny Downing:
Coach Steve Smith. You can say that name to anyone who went to high school with me and they will not only know who you are talking about, but also smile remembering him. He had a positive influence on so many of us. He treated us fairly and with respect. Bigger than that, it was clear that he cared. For me, he was the first coach who recognized the person I could become. He challenged me to grow not only as an athlete and leader, but also as a follower of Christ. He confirmed in me a calling into ministry. We all know a Steve Smith. I bet you can think of someone from your childhood who had a tremendous impact on you as well.
What do you love to do? What do we have in common? We want to make a difference! We long to have a positive impact on the people around us. As a coach, you want to influence your players. As a Sports Minister or Leader, you want to reach and disciple people for Christ. One of the greatest joys I have had in ministry is baptizing players that our league has introduced to Jesus Christ! Our church does a special children’s baptism service and I get to say some encouraging words about each child as I introduce them and then what a privilege it is to baptize them. It is an awesome reminder for me that what we do in sports ministry is of the utmost importance. Sports Ministry can, and should be, the most effective tool your church uses to reach and engage your community.
We live in a sports-crazed culture and serve an amazing God. We have the honor of using the thing we love, sports, to tell those around us about God’s love for them. It is our responsibility to be so effective in what we do that more and more churches will have no choice but to add sports ministry.
The fact that you have this book in your hand tells me you have a desire to win! Sports Ministry That Wins offers a practical blueprint for building and managing a sports ministry that is Gospel-Centered. Jimmy and Greg have done a masterful job giving us the building blocks for a successful sports ministry. They have combined the philosophical and the practical in a way that will help all of us be intentional in our sports ministry efforts. My hope and prayer is that this becomes a textbook for Introduction to Sports Management and Sports Ministry classes being taught around the country.
This book will be especially helpful to the sports minister beginning in ministry that did not have the opportunity to take sports ministry classes. Perhaps your school only offered secular, sports management classes – Sports Ministry That Wins will be a great resource in helping translate what you learned and apply it to church ministry. Maybe you were called into sports ministry after finishing your education. No worries! God will combine your faithfulness and passion for ministry with the concepts in this book to build a ministry pleasing to Him!
Does a veteran in ministry need to read this book? Absolutely! In our sports ministry at Johnson Ferry, I have the honor of training sports ministry associates. I also get to work with interns and introduce them to the idea of sports ministry in the local church. Sports Ministry That Wins is a book that will help me tremendously as I train associates and interns in sports ministry. It will be required reading!
One of the things that is so great about this book is the variety of contributing authors. Jimmy and Greg did an amazing job of enlisting authors from different size programs and churches who varied in their experience and position. You will hear from those in the trenches of sports ministry to some who have been there and give wise advice based on their experiences. Some authors are the only staff member and some have staff members who report to them. What a great opportunity you have to learn from all of them!
Do not just read this book and put it on a shelf. Keep it handy. Make notes in the margins, read the sidebars, and take the time to do the Learning-to-action exercises. From time to time, go back over the book as a reminder of doing what it takes to win!
Rev. Danny Downing
Associate Pastor, Sports & Fitness Johnson Ferry Baptist Church