Chapter #1 is an overview of history and includes a brief survey of 1st century Greek, Roman and early Christian sport and faith integration. This is followed by stories throughout history of how Christians interacted with sport. Profiles include Protestant Reformers such as Luther, Muscular Christianity personalities, and a few pioneers from the Sports Outreach Era of the mid to late 20th Century.
Chapter #2 outlines 12 underlying presuppositions for Sport Ministry. These provide a great foundation for anyone desiring to begin a ministry based upon solid Biblical principles.
Chapter #3 provides a wonderful template for how to maintain a Biblical worldview when involved in athletics. It would be especially helpful for school coaches and athletic directors.
Chapter #4 is where Johnson’s expertise shines: coaching. There is a particularly helpful section for local church sports pastors and all who coach preadolescents. This is a must read for anyone who coaches youth as it provides much needed insights and research about why kids play sport and, more importantly, why they quit playing sports. Coach Johnson also includes a number of principles which are incredibly relevant for parents of athletes.
Chapter #5 simply “drips” with sage advice on how to be a leader. It is entitled: “Administration of Sports Ministry Programs” but the jewels outlined in this chapter are relevant for leaders of all stripes.
Chapter #6 is entitled “Sports Ministry to Women” and provides the reader with insights into some of Coach Johnson’s perspectives about the uniqueness of women in sport.
Chapter #7 has a few nuggets on how to engage in prison ministry including a solid template of proper prison ministry etiquette.
Chapter #8 is a brief attempt to address local church sports ministry.
Chapter #9 shares how people with writing and speaking skills can utilize them for ministry.
Chapter #10 is a discussion about the attendant positives and negatives of sports ministry.
Chapter #11 lists a number of the selected sports related ministries
New Concept Found in this Book
What may be new to some who read this book is the fact coaching needs to be different for different ages. Grade school children need to be handled differently than College or Pro athletes. This is known by many but needs to be implemented by all.
The chapter on writing, speaking and media may open the eyes of some on who may for the first time realize these avenues could be God’s call to ministry.
Catch Phrases Worth Remembering
Few coach youngsters for the sheer purpose of teaching skills and opening avenues for kids to have fun
Youth leagues can furnish a fatherless son with a father figure
Be concerned about the person – not the performance
Points of Contention
A better way to characterize the following comments would be to call them points of clarification rather than points of contention. I am in agreement with most of what Coach Johnson’s shares in this book and I believe we are in full agreement as to the centrality of gospel ministry in and through sports. Thus, these clarifications should not be misconstrued as denigrating the book or the author, nor should they keep anyone from gleaning the many other pearls the book provides.
1. Perhaps the best way to describe the first two chapters is: “a mile wide and an inch deep.” What is presented is true, valid and solid but each chapter could well become at least a book by itself, if not a series of books. It must be understood the stories, facts and Biblical presuppositions are selected highlights rather than comprehensive and thorough treatments of the subjects. They are good places to start but fall short of providing all that is needed to be known about these two subjects.
2. Two things would greatly enhance the overall reception of the chapter on Sports Ministry to Women. First, it would be great to have this chapter co-authored by a female. Secondly, there should be a complementary chapter on Sports Ministry to Men, which should be co-written by the same team who co-wrote the chapter on Sports Ministry to Women. If one gender is addressed then both should be addressed. Otherwise it appears to single out women and gives the obvious issues of men in sport a free pass. Sometimes efforts to be inclusive portray unintended meanings.
3. Johnson’s real strength lies in the field of leadership. His is an important (in fact vital), yet narrow slice of the world called Sports Ministry. Johnson’s insights into leadership are brilliant in a general sense but fall short of the mark for addressing the specific needs of local church Sports Ministry Personnel. His book may disappoint a local church Sports Pastor who is looking for specific answers to specific issues faced in local church sports outreach ministries. I don’t believe Coach Johnson would claim to have superior knowledge or experience in local church sports outreach. It’s simply not his expertise and this shows. His chapter on local church sports ministries is very short and leaves out many of the leaders in the field, such as groups like Church Sports International, Sports Outreach Los Angeles, Higher Sports and of course CSRM although CSRM is included in the chapter which lists a number of Sports Ministries.
Recommendations for a Second Edition
Where to get the Book – Cross Training Publishers
Thanks Coach Elliot Johnson for your work on this book. It will be helpful to many. Thanks also for your many years of faithful diligence of Godly coaching and competing. You have been a guiding light to us all.
I work for CSRM and have a decided bias towards local church sport ministry. Thus, some of my comments may seem overly negative as a result. I would recommend this book to anyone within the broader world of sports ministry as it is a treasury of wisdom in many areas. It should not be seen, nor do I believe it was intended to be, the definitive statement on sports ministry or local church sports ministry.