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.

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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)!



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



Three Good Reasons to Start a Church Sports Outreach Ministry

1) Sports Ministry provides opportunities for Outreach
Rarely do I use the term Sports Ministry without the word Outreach in the middle. Sports Outreach Ministry is a way for churches to reach beyond their walls into their community in a culturally relevant and attractive way. It may be children’s soccer, youth basketball, or adult co-ed softball; regardless, people play sports. And people watch sports. Everyone has a favorite team and sport they watch and if they don’t they jump on the bandwagon of one team or another when the playoffs reach peak excitement. Sports are culturally relevant. They are a creative means to reach out to people in your community, people who are unchurched and/or lost. A family could make contact with your church for the first time through something as fun as sports. If they have a good experience maybe they will consider visiting your church. What a tremendous opportunity sports ministry provides for outreach.

2) Sports Ministry provides opportunities for Ministry
Sports are relational. It may be cheering on a teammate, learning from a coach, or even chatting in the bleachers. Churches that have Sports Outreach Events challenge people that normally hang out in a Christian bubble to connect with people in their community, again many that are unchurched and/or lost. What a great way to make your church externally focused. The connections that are made in this way will go a long way in giving unchurched folk a positive view of the church and lost people a good impression of Christ followers. These relationships will naturally lead to opportunities to share stories about your faith. These relationships will also lead to opportunities to minister to people that need a helping hand or encouraging word when life is challenging. What a tremendous chance sports outreach provides for ministry.

3) Sports Ministry provides opportunities for Evangelism
Last but not least, sports provide a chance to share the Gospel. Maybe you have made a friend through the outreach effort of your church that asks you some basic questions about God. Maybe you have ministered to someone you met through a sports outreach event and it provided a chance for you to lead them to Christ. Or maybe you have the privilege of sharing the Good News at a Children’s Summer Sports Camp and seeing an amazing response to the Gospel message. If God uses you in this capacity you will never be the same, and you will always want to be a part of a sports outreach ministry that provides outreach, ministry, and evangelism avenues for you and your church. Start a sports ministry at your church today and impact your community for Christ.



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.



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 Basketball Camp

The tag line for our ministry is: “Building Skills. Building Character.” I can say without a doubt that the 125 boys and girls that attended our 2007 Summer Basketball Camp learned skills specific to the sport and character lessons essential to life. Our character lessons for the Monday – Friday camp were on teamwork, excellence, discipline, sacrifice, and of course, character. The fundamental skills of passing, dribbling, shooting, defense, rebounding, and free-throws were taught by our coaches on Monday-Thursday and Friday was competition day. Every day the campers had the opportunity to participate in scrimmages and chalk talks.

There were special events that highlighted each camp day. On Monday, we had a basketball trivia contest where kids had the opportunity to win prizes. On Tuesday, we had the former Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and Dallas Burn professional sports teams work with the campers. On Wednesday, the coaches played a full court game representing the Texas Longhorns and the Texas Aggies. Believe it or not, the Aggies won! And on Friday, Mavs Man, the high-flying mascot of the Dallas Mavericks closed the camp with a slam-dunk show.

What about Thursday? Well, it was the highlight of the entire week. Coach C presented the Gospel to the campers and 20 boys and girls responded to the message by trusting Christ as their Lord and Savior. Of the 20 young people, only 5 were from our church. This is a testament to the effeciveness of sports outreach ministry as a means of reaching your community for Christ. Cast the vision of outreach and evangelism and you will have no problem motivating people to join you in ministry. We were blessed with a wonderful camp director, rotation director, coaching staff, and group leaders. Without the help of these 23 volunteers and the volunteers that worked behind the scenes, a camp of this magnitude would not have been possible. Thank you to everyone for making the 2007 Basketball Summer Camp one of the best camps ever!