SPORTSPASTOR


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

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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.



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!



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!