SPORTSPASTOR


God of This City
April 1, 2009, 12:05 pm
Filed under: church, outreach, sports outreach

“Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city.” The words of the song, “God of This City”, filled the sanctuary on Sunday, March 1st, 2009. The church together in one voice declared these words to the Lord as our outreach anthem for the new building. Then on that day and the following weekend, we made our way to the DLC for “Sharpie Sunday” and over 400 people added their prayers, favorite Scriptures, and words of blessing for the future of the DLC to the floor of the gymnasium. We are literally laying a foundation and preparing our hearts for the amazing impact that this ministry is going to have in this city. Check out the following short video and witness my vision for Sports Outreach in our city:

What is God doing in your city? Are you committed to venturing beyond the walls of your church and reaching into the community with the Good News? The signature of irrelevance is a church that is inwardly focused. Think outside the box. Push the envelope. Be a catalyst for change in your congregation to be involved in “greater things”. And if you are already engaged in community outreach – keep up the good work!



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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Christians in Sports – Florida Quarterback, Tim Tebow
November 9, 2008, 7:05 pm
Filed under: sports outreach, sportspastor | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tim Tebow is the quarterback for the Florida Gators. He was the first college football player to both rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season and was the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Since Tebow won the Heisman Trophy, he has sought to spread his message of faith as far as possible. Winning college football’s most coveted individual award has provided him with a broader audience.

“Because of my name recognition and because of who I am, I’ve been given an opportunity to go places where most other people can’t go,” Tebow said. “I can go into prisons and speak, and no one will say anything. I can go into schools and speak, and they’ll love to have me. I can go to all these different places because of who I am as a football player. That’s a platform the Lord has given me, and I think it’s my responsibility to take advantage of it.”

Please take time to read the following article by Mark Schlabach who covers college football and men’s college basketball for ESPN.com. Read the full article, “Heisman provides Tebow broader audience for message of faith” here.

This inspiring article is full of quotes from Tim Tebow and details his experience of leading 120 inmates to trust Christ during a recent visit to the Gainesville Correctional Institute, a minimum-medium security state prison in Florida.



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



Turning a Sports Conversation to Spiritual Things
June 15, 2008, 10:49 am
Filed under: evangelism, sports outreach, sportspastor | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Did you see Paul Pierce go down with what looked like a season ending injury in Game One of the NBA Finals? By the tears in his eyes and the expression on the faces of the trainers you just knew that his season was over – right when it mattered most. He was the lone ranger on a team that won only 24 games last season and now when it was his turn to enjoy being a part of a team that has a great chance of winning the NBA Championship – it looked like he would have to watch from the sidelines. But that is not what happened!

Three minutes go by in the third quarter and Boston begins to fade without Pierce, and then it happened – out of the tunnel emerges Pierce. The same guy that was carried off of the court, grimacing in pain, had returned from the locker room with the resilience of Rocky and the flair of a soon to be hero. What happened next was nothing short of amazing. Pierce immediately entered the game and hit back to back three-pointers as the Celtics never looked back on their way to winning one of the most dramatic games in NBA history.

Speaking of history, over 2,000 years ago, there was a man who walked this earth for 33 years. Many of his followers thought that his death on the cross marked the end of his ministry on earth. Without Christ, many begin to doubt, you could say they began to fade. They had seen their leader die an agonizing death and be buried in a tomb guarded by soldiers. 

They did not realize that only three days later there would be the greatest comeback in the history of the world, a miraculous return, and victory over death. Christ died, he was buried, and he rose from the dead. That is the gospel! God sent His only Son to die on the cross for your sins and mine. That is Good News!

This post is an example of how you can turn a conversation to spiritual things with anyone who follows sports. What a privilege to share the clear and simple gospel with them and ask them if there is anything that is keeping them from trusting Christ and following Him?