More and more church leaders are reporting to me that they are having conflicts between sports schedules and their church’s schedule. This has been a growing problem since the 1980s.
I just recently received an email from a client I’m coaching who asked my advice on what to do with just such a problem. In this case it was with the youth ministry – secular sports were taking kids away from the church’s scheduled meetings. Here is what I told him.
Why not see this as a missional opportunity and train your youth to be ambassadors for Christ while participating in the sport rather than attending youth group meetings? Instead of fighting it, or bad-mouthing the sport for conflicting with church, equip your youth to continue participating in sports as ambassadors for Christ. Let them know their church is behind them if they practice their Christianity in a way that brings people to Christ and the church.
I think we place too high a premium on church attendance. Most of our people spend too much time at church and not enough time sharing their faith with their neighbor. We have led our people to believe that attending church is the mark of a Christian. But it’s not. The mark of a Christian is what we do in our everyday lives. So help your youth minister see that children’s and young adults’ participation in sports is more important than being at church. If he has to, let him count them in attendance when they are gone for sports. But also encourage him to equip them to represent the church while they are there and to know that he, you, and the church support them being missionaries through sports.
That’s the way I would handle it.
Question: How have you seen the benefits of letting kids be missionaries through sports? Share your stories in the Comments section below.