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.

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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.



Sports Outreach Ministry Summer Camp Report

We have reached the conclusion of what many are calling the best summer of sports camps we have ever experienced. God gets the glory for the 248 young people that attended the three summer sports camps and for the 44 children that trusted Christ. This includes the 13 campers that heard the Gospel and responded last week during the Baseball/Softball Camp. Baseball/Softball Camp director Coach C. and a solid group of coaches, assistant coaches, high school group leaders, and volunteers made sure that each child had a safe and fun time at the camp. We were blessed with the best baseball/softball fields in the area. Thank you everyone for your prayers this summer. We were so grateful that the church staff and the entire church body were praying for the sports outreach ministry all summer long.

I hope and pray that your church desires to reach your community for Christ. Each of you should look for ways to invest in the lives of the unchurched in your sphere of influence and invite them to your church. Sports are simply one of the most effective ways to reach out because they are a non-threatening way of connecting with people in your community through something as engaging as sports. It is also a way to invest in the lives of the children in your church and community and earn an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. Take a moment and think about how God could use you and your church to reach your community for Christ through sports.

Let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to be a resource for you.



2007 Summer Football Camp

“I love the principles that you are teaching the children in addition to just football skills. My son comes home every night repeating exactly what the coaches are teaching.”
–Football Camp, Unchurched Dad

Week in Review:
Wednesday – Rain kept us inside at the local community college gymnasium, but we made the most of the first day and did more instruction and agility work than a normal camp day. Parents appreciated the fact that we had created a weather hotline that we gave the parents the number to call and we updated it each morning at 6am with the camp location based upon the weather. Fortunately, Wednesday would be our only day inside.

Thursday – Dallas Cowboy greats, Darren Woodson and Roy Williams, made a special guest appearance to talk to the campers about football and character. Each athlete shared his testimony and commitment to living out his faith even though so many NFL players choose not to do so. The kids asked some great questions. My favorite being: When did you start playing football? Roy Williams answered that he was 5 years old and found a life preserver and used it as shoulder pads and begin to tackle everything in his path, including furniture and family.

Friday – My favorite day because we had an opportunity to speak to the group about what it means to be a Christian Athlete. We presented the Good News that God loves them so much that he sent His only Son to die on the cross so that they may be forgiven if they believe in Jesus Christ. Eleven boys, ages 8-13, responded to the message and trusted Christ for their salvation. Praise the Lord!

Saturday – All of the parents were invited to watch their child compete and scrimmage on this final day. We had volunteers from our church ready to hand our frozen lemonade to the families and provide for them a warm welcome. Over half of these families are not from our church. What a tremendous opportunity we have had to impact our commmunity for Christ, through sports. We were blessed with good weather despite uncertain forecasts. We were blessed to have access to the nicest fields in town. And finally, we were blessed with a coaching staff, camp director, and camp volunteers that love the Lord, love the game of football, and loved having the opportunity to encourage and teach the children how to build skills and build character!



SportPastor’s Top 10 Books on Leadership

I was at Barnes and Noble the other day and I picked up two different books on Christian leadership. Each book was about a successful mega-church. Each book was written by a visionary leader that followed God’s prompting to do church in a way that was attractive to the lost and relevant to the unchurched. The difference between the two books was I owned one and I did not own the other one. So I added it to my stack of 10 magazines and headed to the check out counter.

Yes. Yesterday I listed the top 10 magazines that I am currently reading. Well, wouldn’t you know it that the top 10 leadership books on my desk were extremely jealous that they did not get to make an appearance on the SportsPastor blog. So here are the top 10 books on leadership that I am currently reading or rereading. Some are written by and for pastors and others are written by and for leaders in a variety of fields. Enjoy!

10. Hand Me Another Brick
Timeless Lessons on Leadership
How Effective Leaders Motivate Themselves and Others
Charles R. Swindoll

09. Practicing Greatness
7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders
Reggie McNeal

08. Being Leaders
The Nature of Authentic Christian Leadership
Aubrey Malphurs

07. The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader
Becoming the Person that People Want to Follow
John Maxwell

06. Good to Great
Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other Don’t
Jim Collins

05. Leadership by the Book
Tools to Transform Your Workplace
Ken Blanchard, Bill Hybels, and Phil Hodges

04. The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make
Hans Finzel

03. The Creative Leader
Unleashing the Power of Your Creative Potential
Ed Young

02. Next Generation Leader
5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future
Andy Stanley

01. Spiritual Leadership
Principles of Excellence for Every Believer
J. Oswald Sanders