SPORTSPASTOR


Church DNA Essential # 3 – LOVE

“All of the law and the prophets hang on these commands (of Jesus).” Does anybody recognize that verse? It comes after one of the most quoted group of verses in the entire New Testament: Matthew 22:34-40 NIV

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the law and the prophets hang on these two commands.”

The term “hang” in Greek means that these verses (all of the law and prophets) “find their significance” in the commands of loving God and others.

The modern church read that we are to believe the law and behave how the prophets call us to act and if a person meets those criteria then they are allowed to enter our church, become members, and then belong. In a post-modern culture people want to belong, to be loved regardless of their state of being. If what we believe and how we behave are not founded in love then we have missed the point. Remember that these commandments only find their place when they lead to loving God and loving others. This is authentic biblical community.

That is why scripture says that of faith, hope, and love (amazing virtues) that the greatest of these is love. That is why Christ said of his followers, “They will know you are my disciples if you love one another.”

The final DNA essential for churches is LOVE. Love God and love others. This should be the foundation for all ministries. No one should be left out.



Church DNA Essential # 2 — LIVE

The rock band, NeedtoBreathe, in the their song “Signature of Divine” have crafted a poetic lyric that has captured my heart and my iPod for the past few days:

“Cathedrals have tried in vain to show the image of your face. We are by your design, signature of divine…”

We are created in the image of God. We are witnesses. We are representatives of the risen Lord. Simply check out the words of the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 2:8, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

The second DNA element that I believe is essential to the church is the charge to not only share the Good News, but to LIVE a life that reflects the nature of our God and character of our Savior.

Sports are a relational means for ministry to occur. The ministry is not only in the hands of the coaches as they work with the children. Ministry happens in the bleachers, as well. The lives of Christians and Non-Christians naturally intersect on the sidelines of a youth sports game or practice. What a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with families that need to see Jesus in you. You are a “signature of divine” to each person you meet. Shine your light! LIVE the Gospel and pray for opportunities to share the Gospel and/or invite people to church. Do what many relevant churches are calling invest and invite. Invest in the lives of the people in your “sports life” sphere of influence and invite them to your church.

As a church leader, make sure your flock understand that the Christian Life is not a Sunday routine, rather a 24/7 calling. We must LIVE as “Signature of (the) Divine”.



Church DNA Essential # 1 – LOOK

There are a number of books aimed at pastors that focus on the purpose of the church. What many of these authors do not realize is they are promoting their priority DNA type. Some of the titles include, “The Connecting Church”, “The Disciple-Making Church”, and “The Equipping Church”. With all of these biblically-based books on the purpose of the church, how can you effectively decipher what DNA elements are essential for your community? I recommend we look at the life and mission of Christ to determine what our mission should be. The first thing that we can learn from the Gospel accounts is that our Lord Jesus Christ saw his primary task as that of Savior. Jesus says of himself in Luke 19:10, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” What does that mean for the church today? It means that we need to LOOK. We need to look beyond the walls of our church and find those in need of a Savior. Sadly, most churches today are inwardly focused. If they were evaluated in terms of the familiar parable of the lost sheep, they would be more interested in shepherding the 99 than “seeking and saving” the one lost sheep. We need to be what one author calls, “an outward-facing force”. If reaching the lost is a priority of Jesus then it should be our priority as the church.

The theme verses for our Church Sports Outreach Ministry are found in Colossians 4:5-6: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” With God’s blessing we have successfully made the most of every opportunity through sports as a creative means to connect with our community for the purpose of encouraging them to pursue a life-long, joyous relationship with Jesus Christ. Sports is simply an effective way to build relationships with outsiders or unbelievers for the opportunity to minister to them, invite them to church, and share the love of Jesus in word and deed. We must be aware and LOOK for the opportunities that we have to share the Gospel with those who we are eager to reach. Is outreach a part of your church DNA? It should be.



Church DNA and Sports Outreach

What is church DNA? To answer this question, we have to first establish a standard definition of DNA from which to begin our discussion. DNA is best described as the basic genetic building blocks that determine who we are and ultimately what we will become. Many in church leadership and consulting are using this concept of DNA as a benchmark for assessing church health. Every church has building blocks that determine its current practices and its plans for the future. Assessing these building blocks help a church evaluate their values and priorities at the micro level. At the macro level the evaluation of a church’s DNA can measure a church’s health. The overall goal is that a church would be better able to chart the course for their future endeavors based upon their understanding of their own DNA.

Every church is different. Churches are different sizes. Some churches have 20,000 members and some churches have 200 members. Churches have different backgrounds and therefore different preferences. Because of their roots, some churches are traditional and some are contemporary. Some are stuck in the middle. I believe that a church should minister and worship in a way that best reflects the demographic of the church. In other words, minister in a way that allows the most people to experience God in a unified body of believers. This is a healthy practice of ministry and a flexible strand of DNA. This begs the important question: “What elements of DNA are essential to the local church?” I believe that the answer to this question is found in three places in Scripture. We will visit these church DNA essentials over the next three days.

How does this relate to Sports Outreach? If your church does not value the church DNA essentials that I will discuss, you will have a difficult time getting the leadership team to buy into the idea of starting a sports outreach ministry. But don’t lose hope; pray for God to use you as the catalyst for change as you challenge and influence those in leadership.



Barry Bonds Hits Home Run 755

asteriskWell I turned on the TV to watch Barry Bonds hit home run 755 last night, tying Hank Aaron. After showing the home run from every possible camera angle they showed Bonds running out to left field at San Diego to be greeted by hundreds of fans holding up small sheets of paper with an asterisk on them. This of course a reminder to Bonds that most of the nation is rooting against him and will never give him full credit for his acheivement. Maybe that is the motivation he needs to break the record. trophy
Regardless, we will forever have to live with the staged PR move to have his son greet him at home plate with a big hug. It is just not the same as McGuire and Sosa rooting each other on towards 70 home runs in the late 90s. It seems that Bud Selig thinks that not reacting to the home run and keeping his hands in his pockets was in the “best interest of the game”, or maybe his job. Rumor has it that if Bonds hits 756 this week they will stop the game and award Barry B. with a golden trophy in the shape of an asterisk. OK, maybe not.