by Steve Dunn
It is no secret that America loves its sports. Some might say that our culture in “sports crazy.” Increasingly people engage in all manner of sports from motocross to baseball. When they’re not playing they’re watching–in stadiums, on fields, on TV and on their mobile devices.
The church is at times frustrated by this reality–especially when youth sports invade the sacred hours on Sunday mornings. But in many ways churches would do well to make athletic ministries part of their strategy for building redemptive relationships with the community. Why?
1. Sports are for many Americans a social event in which significant amounts of time are invested in relationships around a common interest.
2. Sports are a tool for character-building and learning important team building skills and values. This is especially so when “competition” is kept in a proper focus, and the “character” is given the forefront.
3. Sports can be an effective “middle space” where people in the culture do not feel at a disadvantage with the Christian community.
4. Sports are a means modeling Christian values when the conduct of the athletic ministry is designed on that foundation.
5. Sports are a means of promoting good physical health–something that the church should be promoting since our bodies are the temple of the Lord.
6. Sports do not require a Christian faith to qualify and therefore are accessible to pre-Christians.
7. Sports are fun. There is nothing wrong with the work of the Lord being fun and the people of the Lord being people with whom non-Christians can have fun.
There are important principles and techniques involved in athletic ministries which are illustrated in the other articles in this issue.