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Daily Devotions for Competitors

F O C U S
Philippians 3:13

Every athlete I've ever known needed a powerful focus upon his goals in order to achieve his highest performance.  How do we appropriate our faith in Christ toward our life as athletes?  Today's Scripture speaks of these ideas.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians at chapter 3 and verse 13 it says, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  This is a dynamic principal about the pursuit of goals.

It's obviously hard to focus on your goals as a person or a team if you're constantly looking backward.  That's why he says he forgets what is behind.  Let go of the things that have hurt you in the past.  Forgive the people and forget the hurts.  Don't focus too much on your past successes either.  We can't be successful if we answer today's problems with yesterday's solutions.

He said to strain toward what's ahead.  The short term objectives that we set should be in line with our ultimate goal and should be kept fully in sight.  You can't play a whole season of games in one day, but you can work to win the one game you have to play today.  The short term objective is immediately ahead of you on the road to achieving your ultimate goals.

He also said to press on toward the goal.  You have a great opportunity to do that today.  Focus clearly on the goals you've established as a team and pursue them with great vigor.  Do as he said and strain toward what is ahead.  A clear vision of your team goals will add to team unity, teamwork, success and even increase the fun in playing.  Press on toward the goal!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:45-53
Hebrews 13:9-25
Proverbs 31
Isaiah 65-66

R E V E L A T I O N
Matthew 11:25

Are there things to be learned by playing sports that cannot be learned through books, seminars and lectures?  I think so.
In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 11 and verse 25 we read, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

Could you as athletes, playing little children’s games, be privy to knowledge that escapes those in the philosophy department?  Yes!!  You know things about discipline, determination, teamwork and loyalty that can only be learned through competition.  The great thing is that those concepts are revealed to us from above.  Our Lord uncovers truth for us to observe and to grasp, then to implement in the life of our team.

Play today with great confidence, knowing that you’re among the highly privileged people of sport.  God has chosen to reveal things to you that most other people will never discover.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 22:39-46
Hebrews 7:1-10

T H R E E     G R E A T    A T T I T U D E S
Romans 12:12

Some arenas have an atmosphere in which it seems almost impossible for visiting teams to win.  This is a tough place to play for every team that comes in here.  Let's talk about some attitudes that overcome atmospheres.

In Paul's letter to the Romans at chapter 12 and verse 12 he writes, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Here we have three attitudes; joy, patience and faithfulness that work in three atmospheres; hope, affliction and prayer.

Here's how this works for us today:
• A joyful attitude helps you press on while waiting for the things hoped for.
• Patience helps you endure afflictions like muscle pulls, sprained ankles    and such.
• Faithfulness in prayer provides confidence and assurance in any     atmosphere.

Let these three attitudes: joy, patience and faithfulness lead you into greatness in today's competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Proverbs 21:17-31
Isaiah 21-23

F A V O R
Proverbs 14:35

Do you enjoy a good relationship with your coaches?  Do you have favor with them or do they seem to be angry with you a lot?  We read about some probable causes for both cases in the Bible.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 14 and verse 35 it says, “The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.” Don't let the king and servant language throw you, just think coach and athlete.
One good reason for a coach to favor a player is that he's acting wisely.  That player is working hard, responding to correction, being respectful, and working with his teammates, in short acting with wisdom.  This kind of behavior often results in a player having favor with his coach or teacher or supervisor.

One good reason for a coach to be angry with a player is that he's acting shamefully.  This person seems to do all the things that displease the coach.  No wonder he's angry!  Players who skip class, break curfew, engage in foolish activities and disrespect their coaches and teammates are acting shamefully.  They deserve and get their coach's anger.

As you prepare for competition in prayer today, ask the Lord for favor with your coaching staff.  Ask Him to lead you to act wisely, not shamefully.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 21:29-38
Hebrews 4:1-11

G I F T S
John 3:27

What would it be like to be a record holder in your sport, right at the top of your game, only to watch someone else come along and immediately break all your records with apparent ease?  John the Baptist experienced just such a dynamic, but with a lot more poise than most of us could manage.

We read about it in John chapter 3 and verse 27, “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.’”

You may say, “But I earned every point I’ve scored.”  You certainly have, but John knew that the real stuff of life, the things that have the greatest value are gifts from God in heaven. 

In John’s case, he is the first man in 400 years to speak with authority from God.  That’s impressive, but along comes his younger cousin and immediately eclipses his whole life.  As the people who watched expected jealousy, John exhibited joy and acknowledged God as the giver of every good gift.

Your gifts are much the same.  Much of the grace given to you is nothing you could ever earn.  It’s a gift, not a merit badge.  The ability to play and the opportunity to compete is a gift to be treasured and for which to be thankful. 

As you approach today’s competition, appreciate such gifts, revel in them, and enjoy them to the fullest with a grateful heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:36-44
Hebrews 13:1-8
Proverbs 30
Isaiah 62-64

A T T I T U D E S
I Peter 5:5-6

How would you describe the attitudes on your team as the youngest players relate to the eldest and to the coaching staff?  Are they respectful and honorable or arrogant and rebellious?  What value does humility have among you?

Peter wrote about these dynamics in his first letter at chapter 5 and verses 5 and 6, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.”

It’s very common for a young, talented player to come into a program with intentions to take over and to be the leader from day one.  The problem with that is obvious.  That player often discounts the years of investment made by the veteran players.  That kind of arrogance can cause the team’s total collapse.

A healthier attitude is for the younger teammates to keep themselves in respectful relationship to the veterans and to let their play win them the playing time and the positions to which they aspire.  Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Make this a day of great competition.  Compete with humility and grace.  Ask God to put down any arrogance or prideful attitudes in your heart and to replace them with the grace and wisdom that leads to great teamwork.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:28-35
Hebrews 12:14-29
Proverbs 29:15-27
Isaiah 59-61

L I T T L E   F A I T H
Matthew 8:26

Of what are you sometimes afraid?  Are there some things that bring you fear and rob you of courage?  Jesus’ friends also had some fears. 

In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 8 and verse 26 he records the words of Jesus, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
He said this to his disciples as they were on a boat in the middle of the sea, being tossed around by the wind in a furious storm.  The answer seems obvious, “We’re about to drown here!”  Jesus seems to be looking deeper, though.

He points to their lack of faith as the source of their fear.  Faith is an active trust in someone.  The disciples had a less than great trust in Jesus or they wouldn’t have been so fearful of the storm.

In whom do you have an active trust?  The disciples had a less than great trust in Jesus or they wouldn’t have been so fearful of the storm.  Who do you trust when your team is in turmoil and nothing is working?

Continue to build your trust for your coaches and for your teammates.  They’re committed to you.  Even more so, build your trust for the Lord Jesus.  He will care for you on your worst day when you’re overcome with fear.  Actively trust the Lord with today’s competition.  He’s worthy of your faith.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:13-27
Hebrews 12:1-13
Proverbs 19:1-14
Isaiah 56-58

L E G A C Y
II Corinthians 3:2-3

Who are the coaches and players in your team’s history that are still impacting your lives today?  Take a moment to recall their names, their faces, their unique gifts and abilities.  They are a heritage for you, like a letter written to each of you to challenge and to encourage.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words in his second letter to his friends in Corinth, Greece at chapter 3 and verses 2 and 3, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  Paul’s friends were the living evidence of his passion for people and his love for God.  It’s similar for us.

Players are the evidence of a coach’s skill, passion and commitment.  They are the coach’s legacy, like a letter written on human hearts and bearing his/her signature.  Coaches love to tell the stories of their favorite players from the past.  They are letters known and read by everybody.  The players who come through this program behind you will be your legacy.  Your lives, your commitment to sport, the stories shared about you will be a letter written to them.  It’s up to each of us to determine the content of that letter.

The stationery for these letters is most remarkable.  It’s far more durable than paper or even granite, it’s written on the hearts of players and coaches.  Their hearts are immortal and will permanently carry the legacy we leave with them.

As you prepare to compete today, I pray that this passage will encourage you to write the best lines of your legacy on the field of competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 24:1-12
Hebrews 11:32-40
Proverbs 28:15-28
Isaiah 54-55

A N X I E T Y
Proverbs 12:23

As we approach competition, anxiety and worry often burden us.  I’m sure you wonder how you’ll perform, how good your opponents are, how well we know the game plan and more.  While these are legitimate concerns, they can serve to hinder our performance as athletes.

In Proverbs chapter 12 and verse 23 we read, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
Anxiety seems to coat our hearts with lead and turns our legs to limp spaghetti.  Suddenly, doubt, confusion and frustration weigh us down.  All these lead to a performance on the court that’s far less than our best.


There is also a great promise in this verse.  It says that a kind word cheers one up.  Encouragement is a powerful tool for the athlete.  A simple word, a kind expression, a well-timed compliment can put a charge into a teammate or a coach, thus lifting the weight he’d been carrying.

As you pray and prepare tonight, ask the Lord to help you see just the right moment to encourage your teammate who’s being assaulted by frustration, doubt or discouragement.  Your kind word could cheer him up and make a great difference in the competition.

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:50-56
Hebrews 11:17-31
Proverbs 28:1-14
Isaiah 51-53

I N T I M I D A T I O N
Deuteronomy 28:10

Have you ever seen an athlete compete who seemed to be completely in his or her own league?  No one else in the game seemed to be 1/2 the player in comparison.  That happens at times on the field of competition, but sometimes it's not just about athletic abilities.  Sometimes we meet a person like Moses writes about.

In Moses' book called Deuteronomy at chapter 28 and verse 10 it says, "Then all the peoples on the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you."  Moses knew that when these people honored God by their obedient attitudes and actions, they would be honored by God. 

It's God's way to have people who honor Him to be noticed and revered by those around them.  In some cases the identification with God's name even causes fear in people.  Don't be surprised if your team is now intimidating to some of your opponents... that's what Moses said would happen.

Compete with confidence and power.  You may even see some people being awestruck by the way your team plays.  Play with great heart and let the world watch in amazement!

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:44-49
Hebrews 11:1-16
Proverbs 27:15-27
Isaiah 49-50

Chaplaincy

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    Sport Chaplain / Character Coach / Sport Mentor Blog

    Questions for Contemplation

    Coach Joe Ehrmann’s influence in the coaching community of the United States cannot be overstated. Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx is a book about Joe and his pilgrimage from an abusive past to a transformational present and future of coaching at Gilman School in Baltimore, MD. Joe’s book, InSideOut Coaching, is among the best books on coaching that I’ve ever read. I constantly share its principles and practices with coaches in my sphere of influence.

    I’d like to adapt and apply some of the questions Joe uses in training coaches with us today. Joe’s questions are: “Why do you coach? Why do you coach the way that you coach? What does it feel like to be coached by you? How do you define success?” Excellent and probing questions, all.
                                                                                                                                                 
    I would like to have us consider these questions:
    1.    Why do you serve as a sports chaplain or character coach?
    2.    Why do you serve the way that you do?
    3.    What does it feel like to be served by you?
    4.    How do you define success?

    Take some time to contemplate these questions and to even write down your answers. They can become defining characteristics of your further service.

    I would like to make some direct and challenging comments about each question.
    1.    Why do you serve as a sports chaplain or character coach? If you are serving as a way of obtaining access to the team, to gain privilege, or to enhance your public profile, you are doing it badly.
    2.    Why do you serve the way that you do? If you are serving thoughtlessly, without considering the needs and the preferences of those being served, you can do much better.
    3.    What does it feel like to be served by you? If those you serve are feeling manipulated, condemned, or simply annoyed, you should consider changing your approach.
    4.    How do you define success? If your measurement for success is attendance at meetings, you may be terribly disappointed. If your measurement is conversions or baptisms, you may become quite manipulative. If your definition of success is more about long term faithfulness than immediate results, you are on the right track.


    Please join Coach Ehrmann and me in asking some difficult, probing questions of yourself. Contemplate these ideas to analyze and adjust your service of the men and women of sport toward life transformation and faithful service of Christ Jesus.

    Pray

    Earlier this summer I turned sixty years of age. The summer also marked fifty years of my being a disciple of Christ Jesus. On August 1, I began my twenty-third year of serving sportspeople with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Milestones like these make old guys nostalgic, but they also make us reflect upon the changes we have experienced and the development of our lives, in particular, our lives of faith.

    One facet of my discipleship that has undergone lots of change is how I pray. From my earliest days of seeing the Lord like a mail carrier picking up requests, to later days of massive prayer lists, to years of emphasis on form or passion, to the more recent days of listening and asking questions, my prayer life has undergone constant change.

    Most recently, my prayer life is full of questions like these: What are you saying today? To whom shall I speak today? Where are You leading me? Who are You calling to Yourself? Where are new opportunities to serve? What would please You most? What scripture is most appropriate for this moment?


    Whether on the field, court, track, mat, pitch, or the pool deck, pray. At practice, training, on the sideline, in the cheap seats, in the changing room, in the training (physio) room, on the bus, on the plane, in the car, or watching via television or computer, pray. Strongly or weakly, wisely or foolishly, profoundly or mundanely, pray. Get your heart engaged with the Lord Jesus’ heart for the men and women of sport and your capacity to care for them will grow, your understanding of them will be enhanced, and your ability to speak the very words of God to them will be magnified. Pray. 

    Report from the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity

    From 24 through 28 August, I participated in the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity at York St. John University of York, England. It was an outstanding four days of presentations, discussions, and fellowship among academic professionals, sports ministry practitioners, and others. http://www2.yorksj.ac.uk/health--life-sciences/faculty-of-hls/faculty-events/igcsc.aspx

    Sports Chaplaincy was one of twelve thematic strands in the congress. The sports chaplaincy strand was comprised of four sessions that included: Sports Chaplaincy Trends, Issues, and Debates led by Dr. Andrew Parker. I then made a presentation titled, Global Sports Chaplaincy: A review of the online training program created for basic, yet comprehensive chaplaincy training . Dr. Steven Waller of the University of Tennessee made a presentation titled, Globalization and the credentialing of sports chaplains: Divergent perspectives . Lastly, Anthony Maranise of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee presented, 6 Degrees of Commonality Uniting Sports Chaplains of all Christian Traditions. Each of the presentations were well delivered and received by the large group of men and women in attendance.

    There were sports chaplains from the worlds of horse racing, motor racing, rugby, football (soccer), American football, baseball, athletics, basketball, Paralympic sports, and probably a number of others with which I am unfamiliar.

    Our sports chaplaincy colleagues were Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, liberal, and conservative, with backgrounds in sport, coaching, psychology, sociology, recreation, theology, and probably other ologies I cannot even spell.

    We were among sports ministry colleagues from Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christians in Sport, the Vatican, Sports Chaplaincy UK, Sports Ambassadors, and others.

    Friday evening’s highlight was a sport themed service in York Minster, a medieval cathedral built across the years of 1220 to 1472. It is a remarkably beautiful structure and the service was very inspirational for all attendees.

    My primary interest in this congress was to further the connections between academics who research and write about matters of faith and sport, and practitioners of sports chaplaincy, like us. I believe that we each stand to enhance the others’ work if we simply, regularly, and respectfully work together. I hope to contribute to the work of many of my new colleagues in the world of academia, and I hope to continue to learn from their insightful work, analysis, and contemplative writing. I expect that the implications from this congress will ripple across the years, and its impact with be felt around the globe.


    Save the date for the next Global Congress, to be held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan October 23-27, 2019.

    Report from Olympic Games in Rio

    Later today I will travel to participate in the Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity in York, England. http://www2.yorksj.ac.uk/health--life-sciences/faculty-of-hls/faculty-events/igcsc.aspx  I am greatly privileged to be making two presentations during the congress and will serve as the co-strand leader for Sports Chaplaincy.

    I will report soon on the congress and its impact upon the world of sports chaplaincy.

    Below is a report from the Olympic Games in Rio by our friend and colleague, Stuart Weir of Verite Sport in the United Kingdom. He offers some unique insight into the nature of sports chaplaincy at such events. I hope it is both informative and inspirational.

    Olympic Update
    As I will not be able to send out a normal monthly update until October, I am sending two one-pagers on the Olympics and Paralympics.

    My role
    My official role was as Togo Olympic Attaché. I went to rowing, swimming and athletics to watch our athletes and attended the team welcome ceremony but in all honesty, the role was not a demanding one. Being Olympic Attaché provided an accreditation which gave me access to the athletes’ village, athlete dining, athlete transport and several behind the scenes places at sports venues. Ironically the identical accreditation in London gave me far less privileges.

    Athletes
    There were over 60 track and field athletes that I knew and 35 who had attended at least one Diamond League Bible Study, who were competing in the Games. Working as a team with Jules who was an official Olympic chaplain, I would say that we made contact with more than three quarters of them. Sometimes just a greeting or a hug, sometimes a prayer or a meal. Jules met several for Bible Study 1-2-1 or in groups. We were always conscious that the athletes were facing the biggest challenge of their year – career even – and that we were there to support but not make demands on them.

    Daily Email
    I was sending a daily devotional email to 50+ athletes competing in the games. Several told me that they found them helpful and encouraging.

    British Athletics
    Being in the Olympic Village and travelling on athlete buses gave lots of opportunities for informal contacts with athletes, coaches and team management, getting to know some and developing relationships with others.

    Chaplains
    The chaplaincy at Rio was very difficult with the Rio Organizing Committee only accrediting three international chaplains, compared to 19 in London. It was impossible for a team of three to cover the responsibilities of manning the chapel, conducting 16 services a week and meeting athletes individually.

    Conclusion

    I saw the Olympics as part of the ongoing support I try to provide for track and field athletes. It was my 10th event of the year. It was an immense privilege to be on the inside of the Olympics and I was pleased with the level of contact I had with athletes. See www.veritesport.org

    Watch Your Attitude

    Across twenty-two years of serving as a sports chaplain, the three primary, universal factors that I have found to build an effective ministry are: Relationships, Attitudes, and Presence. Today, I would like to make some simple and direct comments regarding Attitudes and how they can either enhance or diminish our service.

    ·         Be a servant, not a big shot. Serve purposefully. Do the menial tasks that need to be done in service of others. People will notice and they will respect your attitude.
    ·         Seek permission, not forgiveness. Ask for parameters. Understand your boundaries. To overstep your bounds communicates the wrong attitude.
    ·         Be thankful, out loud. Express thankfulness to those who give you access to their sporting programs in person, via text message, on paper, however you can.
    ·         Talk in terms of “responsibility and privilege” rather than “rights.” An entitled attitude is repulsive to sportspeople, especially coaches. Avoid it at all costs.
    ·         A low public profile it to be preferred over media darling. Be less interested in being a public figure, more in being an essential part of the team’s life.
    ·         Deflect praise quickly. As you do well and others praise you for what you have done, be sure to direct that praise to God and to those with whom you serve.
    ·         Beware of reflected glory. If your team is excelling, beware the allure of fame, accolades, and public adoration. It’s fun, but it can be a snare to your soul.
    ·         Remember that your contributions do not appear on the scoreboard or stat sheets. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your inspirational talk directly contributed to a victory.
    ·         Love extravagantly – it’s really hard to fail if this is your number one goal.
    ·         Serve selflessly – to do this faithfully almost always keeps one’s attitude in order.


    Please shape your attitude in ways that are reflective of Christ Jesus’ as described in Philippians chapter 2:3-8. “ Do nothing   from   selfishness or   empty conceit, but with humility of mind   regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not   merely   look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.   Have this attitude  i n yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,   who, although He   existed in the   form of God,   did not regard equality with God a thing to be   grasped,   but   emptied Himself, taking the form of a   bond-servant,   and   being made in the likeness of men.   Being found in appearance as a man,   He humbled Himself by becoming   obedient to the point of death, even   death   on a cross.

    Cultivate an Interior Life of Contemplation

    Many, if not most, of us who serve as sports chaplains or character coaches go through life at a rapid pace. We thrive on activity and move quickly from venue to venue to love and to serve sportspeople. One drawback to this sort of lifestyle is that we can become rather shallow and soon our service becomes a string of clichés and buzzwords.

    I would like to challenge each of us to cultivate an interior life of contemplation. To make regular time to contemplate God’s will, to ponder on scripture we are reading, to think deeply about important decisions and relationships, is wise and most important. Slowing down to read books, to listen to music, or to simply be still can be very helpful in our more active days.

    Don’t just go, go, go. Stop, stop, stop. Think deeply. Ponder. Listen. Contemplate. Rest.

    Find your best rhythm for such hours, days, or even weeks. Your most effective rhythm could be:
    ·         Absolute silence
    ·         Stillness
    ·         Solitary activity
    ·         Running, biking, or hiking
    ·         Listening to music in isolation
    ·         Study in ambient sound

    Sometimes we need to think beyond what to do, but also why?

    On a personal note, I brainstorm best when at a sporting event. Hearing the ambient sounds of a ballpark, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn, see the players and coaches, fuels my heart’s passions and heightens my soul’s awareness of the Lord’s voice. To write, however, I need more solitude and concentrated time to hammer out exactly what I want to say. I take the previously brainstormed first thoughts, gathered at the ballpark, and then compose into final form in a more private, quiet, and solitary place, often accompanied by soul enriching music.


    Please take my challenge to heart and find ways to develop an interior life of contemplation. You and those you serve will be directly benefited by the investments.

    What Do You Measure and Why?

    One of the realities of our lives of service is that people want to see measurable results. Ministries, like businesses, in our societies are largely results oriented. Donors, leaders, management, and others want to be able to measure our effectiveness and feel the need to identify the results of our service. Sometimes that is wise, and sometimes that is foolish, crass, and manipulative. I believe the difference is made in what we measure, and why.

    The most often measured item in ministry is attendance. I believe that it is reasonable and wise to measure attendance at events. We can recognized trends, adjust strategies, analyze effectiveness, often by observing attendance. If we think greater attendance equals more effective ministry, we may be gravely mistaken. Sometimes ministry is better delivered in small groups or on an individual basis.

    Many ministries measure finances very closely. This can also be wise and proper. To accomplish our ministry purposes, it will certainly require funds to pay expenses, to provide staff, to promote events, etc.… If finances become the measuring stick by which we evaluate all ministry, we may fall into terrible error. Further, if we mold all our ministry initiatives so as to impress donors as their highest value, we may become terribly foolish.

    Many ministries in the evangelical world regularly measure conversions to Christ. This is a bit problematic for many of us. To say with certainty that a person has made a commitment to Christ Jesus that will endure is difficult if not impossible for us. One could count the number of respondents to an altar call or invitation to receive Jesus, but to count all of those as life-long disciples would be foolish. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association estimates that only 10% of those answering an altar call at their events turn out to be committed followers of Christ. I sincerely doubt that our similar methods in sports ministry produce a higher rate.

    Much of the evangelical world uses the verb, “Reached,” to report results. We will say, “We reached 400 people at this event.” My question is, “How do we know when someone is reached?” Does that mean the person heard a message? Does that mean the person attended an event? Does that mean that person made a profession of faith? What is it to reach someone? I have been asking this question for years, but have never received a satisfactory answer. I would prefer we count and report with greater clarity.

    Are we to measure only attendance? Should we value activity as an end in itself? Can we faithfully measure and report conversions to faith in Christ? How does one measure faithfulness? Is there a way to measure long-term ministry results, rather than short-term, immediate results?

    I wish I had easy and conclusive answers to all these questions. I have chosen to measure and to report matters which I can state with certainty, such as these:
    ·         I can count the number of people who attend ministry events. That is easily discerned.
    ·         I can count the number of ministry encounters I have. X number of conversations. Y number of presentations. Z number of chapel talks, Bible studies, etc.
    ·         I can count the number of groups we have formed and developed. X number of FCA Huddles. Y number of Team Bible studies. Z number of Coaches Bible study groups, etc.
    ·         I can count the number of boxes checked on a comment card related to decisions made. I cannot faithfully say all of those who checked boxes made life transforming decisions to follow Christ.
    ·         I cannot count the number of people “reached,” simply because the term is too vague.


    In summary, I would simply challenge you to prayerfully consider what you measure and report, and why you do so. Who is it you are trying to impress with your glowing report of ministry success? Why are we compelled to report ministry results as if they were reports to a stockholders’ meeting? Let’s aim at faithfulness and rejoice if we also encounter numerical success.

    Sport Chaplain / Character Coach Conference Calls

    Another year of FCA Sports Chaplains / Character Coach conference calls will begin on Sunday August 7 at 8:00 pm CDT. These calls are open to anyone who serves as a sports chaplain or character coach, whether FCA staff or volunteer. Each call includes prayer, info on upcoming events re: sports chaplaincy, and an interview with a person who has been serving faithfully as a sports chaplain or character coach. Callers are also invited to ask direct questions of those being interviewed. The whole point is to provide a venue for networking and mentoring sports chaplains and character coaches with others serving in similar ways. These people are most often serving in high schools, colleges, or club teams, but occasionally are serving professional teams.

    We are considering a second call per month for ministry staff people who would prefer a weekday call at a different time. These calls would include a wider network of our FCA colleagues from across the USA. Please reply with your suggestion of day and time if that interests you.


    The calls are always less than an hour in duration and are totally free. Please join us and encourage the volunteers in your network to do the same. Below is a listing of the featured guests for the first three months.

    As a New Season Approaches

    For many of us, especially my friends and colleagues in the USA, a new season of sport is about to begin. The start of a new school year brings with it a new fall sports schedule and the preseason practices that precede it. I would like to recommend some simple matters that may help you be fully prepared as a new season approaches.

    ·         Memorize the team roster and pray for each one. Ask the coach or an office person for the team roster, take the time and effort to memorize the names and numbers. Match those with their faces and you’re on the way to building relationships.
    ·         Meet with the head coach to discuss his or her points of emphasis for your work together. Ask about specific ways you can serve the coaches and the players. Ask for some boundaries for when and where it is most appropriate for you to be present, and maybe when and where your presence is not appropriate. It’s better to discover these ahead of time than through the discomfort of embarrassment or confrontation. Ask the coach how you may pray for him/her, the staff, and the players.
    ·         Attend as many preseason practices as you can. You can observe the coaches and how they coach. You can observe the players and perceive many things about their attitudes, approach to work, the team’s cohesion, etc… This is also the best place to work on roster memorization as you can see numbers, faces, and match them to the players’ names. This is also the perfect environment for prayers of intercession as you think about each player and coach. Pray for them and for God’s purposes to be accomplished in each one.
    ·         Above all, use the preseason to build relationships. Greet everyone you can and see who responds well. Pursue those warmest responses first, ask good questions, serve, and communicate loving respect.


    To occupy yourself with these four activities, especially in the preseason weeks, is of greatest importance. Invest some time, some inconvenience, and some sweat in wise preparation. It will pay off richly in the ensuing weeks and months.

    Sport Chaplain Training School Video

    Below is a link to a YouTube video by FCA Ukraine that will give you a glimpse of the ministry that took place during the FCA Ukraine Sport Chaplain Schoolin Kiev, in early June. Please take a moment to look it over and to lift a prayer of thanksgiving for our Ukrainian teammates, for this outstanding set of volunteer chaplains, and for the donor from Nebraska whose donation covered the expenses. Thank you.


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Roger has written many books. You can find them at Cross Training Publications. Their home on the web is here.

Click on the following image to order copies of Roger's devotional Heart of a Champion.

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Roger Lipe is the Midwest Region International Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The Midwest Region includes the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. In addition to this role, he is the Campus Director for Saluki FCA at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He also serves the Midwest Region in developing sports chaplaincy ministries.
Roger has served as chaplain to several of the athletic teams at Southern Illinois University since 1994.www.siusalukis.comHe has also served as chaplain to the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League since 2012.
Lipe previously served as the Field Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the 26 southernmost counties of Illinois for twenty-one years.
Roger was born and raised in Carbondale and currently resides there with his wife, Sharon. Roger was a high school athlete at Carbondale Community High School, competing in football, wrestling, and track and field. He was also a high school wrestling official for 13 years. He now competes in racquetball and golf.
Roger committed his life to Christ at 10 years of age and was greatly influenced by the Jesus Movement of the early 70s as well as by attending F.C.A. camps in his high school years. He is an active member of Lakeland Baptist Church in Carbondale.
Roger has been profoundly impacted by the short-term mission trips of No Greater Love Ministries since the early 1980s. Fred Bishop, No Greater Loves founder, continues to be a valued mentor and friend.
Roger is the author of seven books of devotions for athletes and coaches. The latest of these is titled,Heart of a Champion Devotions for the People of Sport. He is also the author ofTransforming Lives in Sport A Guide for Sport Chaplains and Sport Mentors. Both of those titles have been translated into Spanish under the titles,Corazon de un CampeonandTransformando Las Vidas en Deportes.

Free to Compete Reflections on Sport from a Christian Perspectiveis Lipes most recent publication. It is a compilation of the weekly reflections he has emailed to hundreds of sport chaplains and character coaches around the globe since 2007. All of these books are available through Cross Training Publishing.
In 2010, Roger published,Soul Food Heart Fuela book of scriptures and prayers in conjunction with Southern Illinois Healthcare. All proceeds from the sales of the book benefit the Coach Kill Cancer Fund.
Roger is the chair of the Sports Chaplaincy Table for the International Sport Coalition and worked with several colleagues from around the world to developwww.globalsportschaplaincy.org. His global network has enabled himto make dozens of international trips to facilitate ministry in sport since November of 2000.

"I lead, encourage and inspire sportspeople as they pursue the fulfillment of God's purposes for their lives."

"I believe lives are transformed as people experience the Lord Jesus' presence and pleasure in Sport."

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