WHY CHURCH SPORTS?
Why is the Church Sports so important? The answer is quite simple. Nobody wants to work on something and put his energy in something that’s will not last. We want to work, not in vain, but “for the crown that will last forever” 1 Cor. 9:25.
We want to build spiritual movements, not just plan nice activities or programs and then finished. In order to think big and reach the world you must first think small and touch one person at a time. Spiritual movements start with individual people who are following Jesus and making a difference where they live. Our impact is measured by the lives we build into and touch, not by doing nice programs.
The Bible makes it clear that not many things will last and be taken from this world, but the church will certainly be one of them Matt. 16:18. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.
The church as the body of Christ is directed by Christ Himself who is the head. If we want to build into something that will continue, even after we are long gone, we need to work through the church. God protects His church and He cares about her as His bride Eph. 5:25-27. “…just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”.
While a visiting team can be a catalyst for ministry, local churches and ministries are the ones directly Winning, Building, and Sending people and developing movements of spiritual multiplication around the globe. In order to make a lasting impact we must work with and train indigenous leaders to carry on in the sports ministry vision. If we are able to work adequately in partnership with the local churches we are serving an organization that has the ‘LONGEST HISTORY’, past, present, and the future!
Jesus tells us to make disciples, not converts. If God enables us to lead people to Christ, then how are we going to follow-up with them? Who is taking care of these new believers who can only drink spiritual milk? Who is going to help them to grow and stand firm in the midst of this generation to become a star shining in the universe? We need to bring them into the safety and fellowship of a local church. The ‘GREATEST IMPACT’ you can make in this world will be done in partnership with the church.
We are always lacking resources and can always use more people to help us. In most countries there seems to be no better network than the church. It is the most well organized, it has the best connections in the community, it has great influence, and therefore it has the MOST AND BEST RESOURCES. God Himself is the Provider for His church.
Definition of ‘Sport’ & Ministry
To understand the Definition of Sports Ministry, let’s first take a look into the two separate words ‘Sport’ and ‘Ministry’.
How do we define the term ‘Sport’?
‘Sport’ is a generic and inclusive term that includes almost any physical, recreational and/or leisure activity. It can be:
Age inclusive (trans-generational)
Ability inclusive (elite, retired elite, skilled & conditioned, recreational, learner, disadvantaged)
Intensity varied (highly competitive, mildly competitive, recreational, and instructional)
Activity varied (team sports, individual sports, wilderness activities, fitness, recreational games, table games)
How do we define the word ‘Ministry’?
The original languages of the scripture, ‘SHÂRATH’ in ‘Hebrew’ and ‘DIAKINOS’ (Greek) means “to serve”. Therefore, a ‘Minister’ is “One Who Serves” a “Servant”!
According to some it is impossible to combine these terms. However, when we combine them together we are talking about more than just activity or playing a game. Sport is now being used for a serious spiritual goal.
“And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8.
We all have this mandate! Yet in many cultures sports is not an acceptable tool for sharing the gospel. It is seen as evil or just a game. In places like the former Soviet Union where believers were often persecuted for their faith, it is hard for them to reconcile sharing the gospel with sports. Or because there is so much betting, immorality, and materialism associated with athletes and sporting events it is also difficult for some to accept.
However, to understand the Biblical Foundation of sports ministry, it is not the sport that is wrong, but it is the motive of the person using the sport that makes it right or wrong, good or bad. It is true: “God loves people - People love sports - God loves sports”.
The Principle of Liberty
Read in 1 Cor. 9: 24-25 for clearer understanding on sports ministry!
Many things in life are not good or bad. They are neutral. Often what make something good or bad are the way it is used and/or what our attitude is when we use it. Take television, movies, the internet, money, and yes, even sports. In 1 Cor. 9, Paul is an advocate of liberty. He is not saying he is free to do whatever he wanted, nor free to do anything that was unrighteous. He is indicating that he was free from any sort of legalistic posture or man-made rules if they interfered with the proclamation of the gospel.
1 Cor. 9:23 says, “And I do all things for the sake of the gospel…” That was Paul’s driving desire. Paul is saying that he is willing to be culturally relevant even if it means adapting to another culture at the expense of his own culture. If Paul were alive today, he might be an athletic musician or a musical athlete because those are the two main interests of the world that would give him greatest access to people in order to proclaim Jesus Christ.
God’s Character - Principle of Divine Diversity
The God of the Bible is a majestic, multi-faceted God. He is diverse in His essence (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He is diverse in his character. He is diverse in His ministry and how He interacts with His creation (for example, we all have different testimonies of how we came to faith). We can also clearly see this as we explore the different names of God.
How many ways can you think of that God has creatively interacted with his creation?
In 1 Cor. 9:22 Paul understands the wisdom in adapting to those around you in order to win them for Christ. “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”
Biblical insight to winning and losing can be found in the following verses: Col. 3:23 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto man.”
whatever: any and every aspect of your life (even sports)
heartily: with your whole heart, with everything you have (mind, body, soul)
unto the Lord: for God’s glory - He is your only spectator and He does not care about the scoreboard.
not unto man: not for man’s glory
Col. 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
word or deed: actions, thoughts, words, and any situation
in the name of: as if Jesus Himself were doing it
giving thanks: to
the one who gave it to you in the first place as a form of worship; Since this form of worship is done as Jesus would have done it, you have reflected the life of Christ in you, which brings the highest glory to God.
1 Cor. 9:25 – “… They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” The over-arching issue in scripture is that there are temporal things that have little value compared to eternal things through Jesus Christ our Lord.