SPORTSPASTOR


Basketball was Invented to Share the Gospel
March 4, 2009, 11:45 am
Filed under: evangelism, faith, Gospel, sports outreach

In December 1891 Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball. Dr. Naismith’s invention came during that winter when his supervisor asked him to come up with an indoor game to attract young men during the harsh New England winters – in order to share the gospel on a year-round basis. With nothing more than a soccer ball, two empty peach baskets, a ladder and ten handwritten rules he had created a game that would become the most watched and played indoor sport in the world.

I bet you didn’t know that basketball was invented to share the gospel. I want to let you know that we in sports outreach ministry are using the game of basketball for its intended purpose. In fact, every recreation activity will be an avenue for ministry to our church and community. We are committed to finding ways to relate to people where they are in a culturally relevant and attractive manner that meets their needs, physically and emotionally, as well as spiritually.

In Colossians 4:5-6 the Apostle Paul encourages the church to “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.” Believers should live in such a way that they will attract and inspire non-Christians, giving them a favorable view of the Gospel and the church. Believers should give a verbal witness that is winsome, full of character and worthy of respect.

I am passionate about the calling on my life to equip believers to make the most of every opportunity to reach out to people through the most creative and relational means possible. A healthy balance of faith and practice make a lasting, positive impression on a person who is far away from God.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Advertisements


Tangible Love
September 25, 2008, 11:11 am
Filed under: church, evangelism, Life and Leadership, outreach, servanthood, service | Tags: , ,

As you have probably noticed I am working my way through Geore Barna’s book, Revolution. Having graduated from Baylor University with a B.A. in Religion and Sociology, I enjoy the process of evaluating Barna’s data and applying the truth in the context of ministry. Today I want to focus on one of Barna’s reports regarding servanthood.

Are you involved in acts of selfless service? Did you know that there is a better distraction from your daily grind than the television? Love becomes tangible when the people of God reach out to the hurting and needy people in their church and community. Notice I said church and community. Even though a person may look like they have it all together on Sunday morning, they are most likely struggling and hurting about someone or something. Minister to them. God wants us to go the extra mile to help those in need. Now about the city – think about the first church as described in the book of Acts. It says that they praised God and enjoyed the favor of all the people and as a result, “each day, the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)

Too many Christians come to church for themselves. I call this “menu-mentality” – what is on the menu of programming for my family and myself? Barna reports that only one out of every four believers will spend time in a given week serving others. Most people would rather give money to an organization that serves instead of rolling up their sleeves and truly being the hands and feet, the beautiful hands and feet that bring the Good News (Isaiah 52:7).



Evangelism Goes Beyond the Pulpit
September 17, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: christian living, Christianity, Christians, church, evangelism, Life and Leadership, ministry, pastor | Tags:

Did you know that the typical churched believer will go their entire life without having the privilege of being involved in the process of leading someone to place their trust in Christ. I believe that this is due to the fact that they are overwhelmed by the task of evangelism. We are called to share the love of Christ with those who are lost and in need of a Savior, yet many are intimidated by this daunting task. If you dig deeper you will find that they have a fear of rejection by friends and family if they even ventured into the realm of evangelism. In fact, many believe that sharing the gospel is the job of the pastor on Sunday mornings at the end of the sermon.

George Barna in his book Revolution suggests that the role of evangelism goes beyond the pulpit. He points out that the early church as described in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 2, carried out their evangelistic efforts through faith-based conversations. They prayed for and embraced opportunities to have “low-key/high impact conversations about truth and purpose in life. When this approach is combined with a life lived in such dedication to the things of God, opportunities will arise to share the joy of your salvation. The greatest witness that a person can have is a lifestyle that creates interest from those searching for meaning and purpose in life. When you find someone questioning your pure motives and inspired perspective you are engaged in the process of evangelism. It is our calling to share the gospel and it is God’s desire to save. I challenge you to redefine evangelism in your own life and “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:20)



Over 900 People Trust Christ at Elevation Church!
September 10, 2008, 10:14 am
Filed under: church, evangelism, Gospel, Life and Leadership, outreach, pastor, sermon | Tags: , ,

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. At a young age, Steven realized God’s plan for him to start a life-changing church in a metropolitan city. Elevation Church was founded on the faith of eight families who risked everything — sold houses, quit jobs and moved to Charlotte believing God would turn their city upside down for His glory through the local church. That risk has resulted in a remarkable return.

At their two-year mark, Elevation grew to more than 3,500 in weekly attendance between its two portable campuses. In 2007, Elevation Church was named one of the 10 Fastest Growing Churches in America. And they are just getting started.

Pastor Steven’s challenging message and passionate desire to see “those far from God filled with life in Christ” has ignited a fire in Charlotte and beyond. Pastor Steven recently preached a three-part series on the gospel that was life-changing for over 900 people that gave their lives to Christ during the 3 weeks of The Gospel series. Visit the Elevation Church website and make time to listen to these sermons. Pastor Steven’s combination of boldness, conviction, and humility make him a gifted communicator that God is using to impact Charlotte in a powerful way. Pastor Steven is an inspiration to me and a constant reminder that the gospel is the power of salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16)!



Extreme Makeover: Sports Edition

One of my favorite TV shows is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It is rare you will find me watching television that is not sports related, but this reality series has grabbed my heart and attention. Why? Because they provide not only a new home, but a custom home based upon the specific needs of a deserving family. The best part is that the entire community comes together to show love in a tangible way that will make a lasting impact on a family in need.

Last night’s episode hit close to home for me. A blended family of seven were living in a house that was only 600 square feet, because they could not afford anything bigger. The father had grown up on the streets and made costly mistakes that he was determined his children would not make. The part that was special to me is that this family loved sports and both the mom and dad were youth sports coaches who serve the families in their community. They even run the concession stand at the local sports complex. Now the families in their community had a chance to serve them.

So the family goes on vacation to Disney World for 7 days while the builders and volunteers from the community build them a brand new home. When they arrive home to see their new place they are informed that an anonymous donor paid off their mortgage. Wait. It gets better. West Virginia University also committed to cover tuition for all five children when they are ready to attend college.

This is true community. If your church sports program is inward focused you are missing the point. You are missing a opportunity to share the love of Christ in word and deed. Our words alone are not going to change the world. It is when they are accompanied by loving acts of service that the world will stop in their tracks and wonder what motivated such compassion. And I know that for many on Extreme Makeover, they are giving back to their community as a means to reflect the love of Jesus to the world He came to save.



Sports Outreach: Reflecting Christ Through Sports

One of the most read posts on the SportsPastor blog consistently has been my commentary on coach Tony Dungy.

“There is just something different about him.” “He has different priorities than other people of his profession.” “You just sense a certain presence about him when you are around him.” What do all of these statements have in common? They are all statements made by sports writers in an attempt to describe what they perceive as positive character traits of Tony Dungy, head coach of the World Champion Indianapolis Colts. Tony Kornheiser, Billy Packer and others have recently made the comments above. They can almost put their finger on the fact that Tony Dungy is different because he is a sold out believer in Jesus Christ. It is obvious that the Spirit of God is in him. What a tremendous witness! In the last two seasons he has gone through the most horrific experience of losing his son to suicide and the most exciting moment in sports as victors of the Super Bowl. His response to trials and triumphs should be an example to us all that Christ can be seen in our highs and in our lows. I pray that all of us would have an opportunity for people to say of our witness, “There is just something different about them.”

Over a year later I write this post with tears in my eyes. It actually happened to me. A humbling experience. An honor that in some small way I was able to represent and reflect Christ with my life. Here is how it happened:

I coach a 4th grade basketball team out of my love for Christ, children, and sports. I normally coach in Christian leagues, but this year I had the opportunity to coach in a select city league. My two-fold goal is to help the kids build skills and character. I look at every moment as a teaching moment. I have learned how to strike a fine balance between fun and fundamentals in practice. I also strive for them to do their best at every game, even if that looks different on any given Saturday.

Now that the season is over I can only glance at the trophy that represents an undefeated championship season and great memories for every child and their families. But I have a memory from this season that I will never forget. It was relayed to me by my friend and fellow coach that the alcoholic, unchurched father of our star player had pulled him aside after the championship game and said, “I sure like Derrek. He gives everything he has to make sure that the team is safe and successful, but there is something more… There is just something different about him. What is it?”, he asked. My friend and fellow coach replied, “He loves Jesus and it shows.”

George Barna has said in many of his books on the unchurched that, “Many people remain unchurched because they have looked us (Christians) and do not especially like what they see.”

Barna continues – “When God becomes the true priority in our lives, and when we imitate the heart of Christ and live in the power of the indwelling Spirit, what we represent will be irresistible.”



Share the Gospel Using Sports Illustrations

Stonebriar Community Church’s Baseball/Softball Camp was this week and I knew today was the day that the gospel would be presented. I could not wait for the Sports Outreach Director to give me a call. I was the first person he called to tell me all about the exciting events of the day.

First of all, he began the camp day focused on explaining to the campers the concept of sacrifice. As a captivating illustration he told the story of the college softball player who hit a home run recently and tore her ACL while running the bases. The only way for her to get credit for the first home run of her career was for the players on the other team to sacrifice what ended up being their postseason hopes to help the other team score runs by carrying the injured player around the bases lowering her just enough to touch the base until they all reached home.

As Coach C was telling the story two coaches carried a college student around the bases allowing him to touch each base for what was a creative and amazing way to communicate sacrifice. Coach C knew that he would later in the day refer back to that illustration when he spoke of the gospel, the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When it was time to communicate the gospel to the campers, Coach C continued Continue reading