SPORTSPASTOR


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)

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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.



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 # 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.