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The “Minnesota Miracle.”  Alabama’s overtime victory over Georgia. Georgia’s overtime win over Oklahoma. New England’s late drive to defeat Jacksonville. The Eagles defense holding off the Falcons on their final drive.   

These are just a few of the recent games that illustrate this idea – “It could have gone either way.”

In each of those games, there were great plays that led to those victories. A great catch here. An acrobatic defensive play there. Without those, the results probably would have been completely different.  

“It could have gone either way.” It is one of the things I love about sports.  

In that reality, we tend to focus on those great plays. Understandably. Those plays draw our attention and admiration for all that it takes to make them a possibility – like hard work, discipline, and teamwork.  

However, I want to shift the focus of our attention. Rather than just those great plays, I want you to consider for a moment the number of little things that led to the necessity of such great plays.  

For instance, If the Saints make their third down conversion in the previous series and score a touchdown, how would that have impacted the Vikings on the final play calling and the Saints on their defense? Would there still have been a “Minnesota Miracle”? If Alabama true freshman Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t take the 16 yard sack on the previous play, would the same play that resulted in the 41-yard score been called? Would Alabama have still won their fifth National Championship under Nick Saban? If certain penalties in a number of these games hadn’t been missed, would the dramatic events have even been a possibility?

What I am hoping to point out is that it is not just the great plays that make a difference. It is also a lot of little things, some seemingly insignificant at the time, that push the games toward such a conclusion.  

I bring this up because, in several of these games, players who made those great plays brought God into the equation.  

Here is Vikings receiver Tyler Diggs on the ‘Minnesota Miracle,’ “I give everything to God,” Stefon Diggs told Fox Sports. He thanked his coaches and teammates for giving him the opportunity, then pointed to God, “God did the rest, He put me here. And I’m just thankful.” Afterwards, Case Keenum, the quarterback who threw the pass, said, “God is so good.”

Here is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on the overtime victory:

In this interview, Tua says, “You know, with God all things are possible! That’s what happened tonight.”

If you watched the Georgia/Oklahoma game, Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm, said basically the same thing in his interview after the game. So did Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles, after their win over the Falcons.

Now consider these two ideas together: 

The game could have gone either way based on not just big plays but on many “little things,” God being credited for the victory – either implied or specifically stated.

When you listen to these players and consider the teeter-totter way that these games could have gone, how do you factor God’s involvement in the game? Do you see God orchestrating the events for the winners as some of these players imply or do you chalk it up to pure coincidence, just a random series of events?

I bring this up not so much to settle the question of “Does God care who wins?” but to ask you to consider the question more deeply. (The answer is more important than you think.)

As I have considered the question and asked others to do the same, I have found troubling implications to the “No” answer and to the “Yes” answer, ones that either trivialize sports or God.  

I also bring this up because I have found this to be a very personal issue, not just something theoretical to be argued about in bars or on sports talk shows. To illustrate this point, ask the question, “Does God care who wins?” at your next lunch or breakfast. If your experience is like mine, the conversation will quickly get very lively.  

If you are tracking with me and wrestle with this question, maybe even unsure of your answer to the question, “Does God care who wins?” or want to examine more carefully the troubling implications of either of the “No” or “Yes” answer, I would point you to a book I wrote last summer titled Does God Care Who Wins?

Here are a couple of reactions from readers:

“I received the book yesterday and read it cover to cover last night! Thank you so much, I loved it…Appreciated the blend of story-telling, scripture, deep theological truth, specific quotes and stories from athletes and practical implications. Really well done and a really helpful resource that I can see lots of uses for.”  

Collegiate Soccer Coach

“I finished “Does God Care Who Wins?” on the plane Sunday… could not put it down…..Seriously, you did an amazing job addressing a question asked by millions but not answered my many, and if so, not with the thought and care you did….Going to be passing this book along to family and friends for the rest of my life… so glad God had you write this.”

Businessman and Serious Golfer

“I have been an athlete and a NAIA collegiate volleyball coach who regularly and intentionally led a counter-cultural, positive, collegiate Christian sports team for 13 years. I have naively answered that question “Does God Care Who Wins?” with this answer: ‘God doesn’t care who wins. He cares about the athletes, coaches, referees and spectators at the game. He cares how we experience the game and the relationships we continue to build with those we play with, but he doesn’t impact the outcome of a game.’ 
I held that general view (with minor alterations over the years) until I read Bob’s book.  I must acknowledge that the insights Bob shared about our God, and how He cares about us, and he therefore cares about what we care about, dramatically changed my own answer to the question raised in his book title.  What a paradigm shift!”

College Professor – Health & Exercise Science

I ask you again to consider the questions, “If the game could have gone either way, what role does God play in the outcome?  Does he actually care who wins?” 

For more – Does God Care Who Wins? Is available on Amazon –


In my working with people on outreach, I have discovered one of the most difficult things for them to do is start “spiritual” conversations. I put the quotations on the word “spiritual” because that is how we typically refer to them.


When we talk about starting these “spiritual” conversations, we envision ourselves sitting at lunch with a co-worker talking about the weekend sports and then asking something like “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would end up?” We know it doesn’t feel natural to go there, but we think we are supposed to steer the conversation there, so we ask what feel like awkward questions.

In most cases, we probably have this sense of awkwardness for a good reason. We may have missed the natural progression in our conversation. In our sense of pressure, we may have jumped several levels in that progression with the resulting awkwardness.    

But these people who are asking this question about starting such “spiritual” conversations have not given up on outreach even with this awkwardness. That is why they are in the audience of a training I am doing or on the other side of the table as we discuss outreach over lunch asking, “How do I start a “spiritual” conversation?”

To answer that question and illustrate that progression, I focus on the way conversations typically go by using what I call the Triangle of Vulnerability. Most of our conversations begin with little or no vulnerability. The topics are about Impersonal facts, like the scores from the previous weekend, (Some fans may argue this isn’t impersonal!!!) or the weather.

If those conversations increase in vulnerability, they move to personal facts. These include items like where we live, what we do, how long we have been married, or how many kids we have.


The next step in vulnerability is to move to opinions. “What do you think about Harvey Weinstein?” “How did sexual harassment get to be so widespread?” “Why do you think this is such a problem?” “Why do you think those victims didn’t come forward sooner?”


Progressing further, our conversations go to feelings – our fears, our joys, or our struggles. Think about how few of your conversations get here and you see the depth of vulnerability expressing feelings is.


Last, and most vulnerable, are conversations about our identity. Who are we? How do we see ourselves? Others? Valuable? Competent? Beautiful? Belonging? Alone?


Think for a moment about two things

At what level of vulnerability do you have most of your conversations?
At what level is a conversation about the Gospel?


Honestly, the Gospel speaks to this deepest level of vulnerability – our identity. The gospel says, apart from Christ, people are:

Disconnected from God
A child of wrath
An object of displeasure, disdain

As a result, people apart from Christ feel alone, confused, rejected, hurt, and ashamed.


This contrast between the vulnerability of most of our conversations and one about the gospel shows why we get so awkward when we think about starting a “spiritual” conversation.


However, we can overcome much of this awkwardness if we guide our conversations to greater and greater vulnerability utilizing the insights from the Vulnerability triangle. The way I apply this insight is as follows:

First, I ask questions using the Triangle. 

Then I ask questions about personal facts
. These are usually “WHAT” and “WHERE” questions – What do you do? Where do you live? Etc.

I try to follow those up with “HOW” and “WHY” questions.
“How did you get into real estate?” “Why did you pursue medicine as a career?” “Why did you move to that neighborhood or city?” These HOW and WHY questions accomplish several things.

First of all, I begin to hear someone’s story. I see the journey that got them to where they are as I interact with them.

Secondly, I begin to see what matters to them, what they value, their opinions and feelings. This takes the conversation into greater vulnerability.

I then lead in taking the conversation to an even deeper level by offering my opinion, feelings, and identity, “I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I was so confused about vocations.”

Then I invite the other person down to that level, “How about you? Were you clear from early on what you wanted to do?” If they say yes, I follow that up with a HOW question like, “How did you get that clarity?”


I ask, I listen, and I lead in vulnerability.


This eventually leads me to talking about my relationship with Christ. I might say something like, “I didn’t know what to do and in that place I pray. How about you what do you do when you don’t know what to do?” or I might share something of my spiritual journey and then ask them “Tell me about your spiritual journey?”


This understanding and practice leads me to deeper and deeper conversations that make it less awkward to talk about God and the Gospel. It flows best from a genuine desire to know people and to see them connect with the gospel.


Prayerfully use the vulnerability triangle concepts and you will find that “spiritual” conversations are the natural result of meaningful, deep conversations rather than from asking awkward questions.


This is a question we often ask sports ministers in our coaching sessions with them. We usually frame it something like this – “If we are talking three years from now and we were to ask you, ‘How is it going?’ If you would then reply something like ‘God has done amazing things in our ministry in the last three years?’ We would then ask, “What has happened?’


At this point, we listen and furiously record the answers.   We have learned that, when we ask the question, what most often comes out are the things God has placed on these sports ministers’ hearts. In most cases, these ideas have lain dormant waiting for the opportunity to arise. When that is true, it doesn’t take much to dislodge them into the spoken word.


It is a beautiful experience to be a part of.


Recently, I had such a conversation with a sports minister at a church in the Midwest of the United States. Here is what I heard:


“God has taught us how to love one another – a rich deep real love for each other so that this place is a place where broken, disenfranchised, and tired people come and feel like they belong, where they are loved and cared for. Because of that, God has brought a steady stream of these broken people to our volleyball, futsal and basketball initiatives where they have felt embraced and experienced real life change. Because of this work of God, our gym has gained a reputation as a gym unlike any other in the care and concern we have for the people who come.”


“Also, God has made this a place where coaches, parents, and athletes have rejected a compartmentalized view of life and understood how their faith and sports/fitness integrate so that now they now live their whole life under the banner of the glory of God. These people are not only experiencing this themselves but they are also sharing this with others, imparting this perspective to others – disciples making disciples in our leagues and classes.”


“Lastly, this movement hasn’t stayed here but has spilled out into our community as we have seen God raise up coaches and players that have gone into schools and community recreation and lived out that love and integration, influencing the entire sports community here.”


It took us a little bit of time to get to this, but, as I read these three paragraphs back to him, it moved both of us as we actually started to envision this and think God might possibly do something like what was described there.


Have you ever thought of this question? Whether you are in ministry vocationally or not, if you haven’t, give it some mental energy. In fact, sit with someone you trust and ask them to listen to your answers and give feedback.


Who knows? This exercise just might be God’s way of prying loose what he has placed in your heart for you to pursue!


Today is one of those days.


I don’t know about you but for me there are some days when the brokenness of the world, the loss of goodness all around me, eclipses the redemption God is authoring through His Son. When that happens, I wrestle with discouragement and feel overwhelmed with the prospects of dealing with that loss.


On the eve of Thanksgiving in this country, on the day when I am reminded to be thankful, I awake struggling.  


As I wrestle through this, I remember the Apostle Paul and his experience with this wrestling. In his letter to the Corinthians, that we call 2 Corinthians, there are two themes Paul tries to drive home – Comfort in Struggle, Strength in Weakness. With the first theme, several times in this letter, he honestly and vulnerably tells the reader of those struggles.


One of those places is in chapter 6 where he says – As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger…through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (verses 3-10)


In the middle of these verses, Paul says he is “sorrowful but always rejoicing.” When I first ran across this passage, I was intrigued by the combination of these two ideas. Paul had sorrow but not only sorrow. He rejoiced. But he didn’t just rejoice. He rejoices in the midst of his sorrow.


Sorrow and joy. A strange combination but one Paul says co-existed in his life. This reminder encouraged me this morning.


It helped me move beyond the experience of the brokenness and my discouragement. It reminded me that my experience of brokenness is not all that defines my life. Alongside that brokenness I do see the redemption Jesus Christ is bringing.


As I thought about this, I was reminded of


  • The redemption I see taking place through the movement of God in and through local churches using sports, rec, and fitness.
  • The local church leaders who see sports, rec, and fitness not as irrelevant or as an end but as a key means to glorify God.
  • The local churches who strive to glorify God by using sports, rec, and fitness as a bridge to connect and a laboratory to transform – both people and the realm of sports, rec, and fitness.
  • The local churches who even this year for the first time have picked up the tool of sports, rec, or fitness toward these ends.
  • The sports, rec, and fitness ministers who embrace gospel centricity as critical for keeping their efforts focused on this movement and ministry and avoiding the tendency toward just doing activity and running programs.
  • Those involved in the REACHgathering and especially the Foundational Partners who have this movement on their hearts.
  • The International Sports Coalition (ISC) and all who are a part of it for all their efforts to fuel this movement around the world
  • Those I have the privilege of knowing and, in some cases, journeying with who stir me with their creativity, their courage, and their determination, who in many cases have made great sacrifices to be a part of this movement but think it nothing and “count everything as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus”


Jesus is making all things new. This list reminds me of that reality and enables me to be like Paul and be “sorrowful but always rejoicing.”


How about you? What about the movement causes you to rejoice amidst the sorrows of your life or the world around you?


I recently ran across a satirical look at sports in the United States titled Inside America’s Largest Religious Revival You Know Nothing About. The author, Heather Smith, makes the following claim:

“This new religious revival has remained under the radar in large part because its adherents do not claim any religious attachment to this social institution, but by every measure of behaviors typically associated with religion, it is deceitful to label it as anything less.”

Following this claim, the author then creatively but very poignantly points out the following marks of the sports culture to prove her point:

  • Devotion – “These disciples are willing to sacrifice almost limitlessly where their dedication to this faith is concerned.”

  • Impartation – “One reason for the brilliant success of Athletica in handing down its tenets from generation to generation is the belief that children should be initiated into the fullness of its ways as soon as possible.”

  • Dedication –“In the more devout Athletica households, diet and other bodily disciplines are also part of the ascetic training…Those most dedicated to this life will carefully regulate their sleep to ensure supreme attunement and awareness in the practice of Athletica.”

  • Centrality – “Unquestionably, the ongoing success of Athletica is rooted in its centrality to the lives of its devotees.


Heather concludes her article with the following – This depth of enculturation is most certainly the key to the trenchant, growing success of Athletica, which—by all reasonable evidence—has already replaced its rival religions in most American homes.

While you may not completely go along with her tongue-in-cheek comparison of sports and religion, you have to acknowledge the underlying idea behind the article – WE WORSHIP SPORTS!

To highlight this reality even further, take a look at this 90 second video from Skit Guys.

We care about this idolatry at CEDE Partners. We don’t want to get rid of sports. We want to redeem them.

One of the key steps in that process of redemption is the acknowledgement of that idolatry. While no one likes to admit it, the truth is that everyone who plays or watches sports is prone to this idolatry. It is a part of our DNA.

Think again if you read the article by Heather Smith or watched the video by the Skit Guys. How did you feel as you did so? Did it make you feel a little uncomfortable? If so, would you wonder why? Maybe it was because it struck a little too “close to home” or too deep in our hearts.

If that discomfort is the case, acknowledge that to God and ask him to reveal the source. Ask him to show you where you might be making sports and idol and repent wherever and whenever he shows you that idolatry.

He delights to move us away from the unsatisfying pursuits of our hearts to the only one worthy of worship and who alone can satisfy our longing hearts. After all, he is in the business of redemption – both people and the idols of our culture like sports.

For further insights into these ideas, take a look at these blogs:


“Of course, we pray for victory.”


This response came in answer to a series of questions from Christianity Today to the Houston Astros Spanish-speaking Chaplain, Juan Jesus Alaniz. The article ran during the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers that the Astros eventually won in the 7th game.


After that particular comment, the interviewer asked Juan directly, “So you pray that they’ll win?” He responded, “Oh yeah. We’re more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.”


“Should we pray to win?” Just as with Juan, this is a common question asked of Sports Chaplains, athletes and coaches who declare themselves Christians, or anyone who is in Sports Ministry in general. I want to take a stab at this question and, in doing so, reflect on what can happen if we don’t pray and what can happen if we do.


What if we don’t pray for wins?

Any athlete or coach is competing because he or she wants to win. That person may or may not want to win at all costs, but the heart desire of competitors is to be honored for their skill. This reality is shown by our longing for trophies like the one that went to the Astros.


With this in mind, if we don’t pray for the win, I would question how well we are acknowledging the desires of our heart. I would wonder just how honest we are being with ourselves or with God about what we really want.


If we do acknowledge this desire to win but don’t pray, we may be closing the door on the possibility through this prayer for God’s transforming power to change our hearts. This is significant. The Story of Redemption tells us we were made for glory and honor but lost that glory when we turned from God. Since that day, our hearts have been searching for glory, apart from God, seen so clearly in the realm of sports and our thirst for championships. Even when a person turns to God in response to his offer to redeem and restore them to glory in Christ, we still struggle with establishing this glory on our own.


Our prayer for winning may be an expression of that struggle. We may find through our prayer just how badly we want to win. Our prayer may actually expose the self-centered nature of our desire to win and of our request. This realization could open us to our need for turning away from that self-centeredness to God and the pursuit of his will rather than our own.


If we don’t pray, we may miss the opportunity for this needed transformation.


This exposing nature of prayer is one of the reasons the Scriptures has verses like the following:


“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication,

let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

Notice, the writer speaks about WHAT to pray. “In everything” includes the game that is about to be played.


He also speaks about HOW to pray. “By prayer and supplication” implies a worshipful asking. Worshipful would include coming to God believing he hears our prayers and cares about our prayers. Asking would, in that faith, offer what is on our hearts to him, including our desire to win.


If you don’t pray, let me ask you, “Why don’t you pray to win?”


I have asked others this question and their answers typically boil down to two:

  • “God doesn’t care who wins anyway so why pray.”
  • “It is too risky to open up that desire. God may deny, even squash it.”


If you resonate with the first answer, I would ask to think about how you know he doesn’t care and point you to a larger treatise of this subject in Chapter 2 of the book Does God Care Who Wins?


If you resonate with the second answer, I would ask you to consider your view of God in light of the above verse and the one immediately following it:


“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7


When the writer mentions the “peace of God” and guarding your “hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” he wants us to see the heart of God for prayer. Prayer is designed to bring us face to face with God, with the result being peace and deepened connection, not fear and distance. Not praying about winning removes us from that audience and the transformational nature of it.


What if we do pray for wins?

If we pray for the win and win, we ought to be free to embrace the win but careful not to let it establish something about our identity. God doesn’t answer the winners’ prayers because they are more deserving of the affirmative answer than the other team’s prayer. God answers these prayers because the wins and the losses are a part of his will, his kingdom coming to “earth as it is heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)


With this in mind, winners are free to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all of creation, including the game, and accept His will with grace and humility embracing and enjoying the glory that comes from winning. At the same time, they should also acknowledge the win as undeserved and just a taste, an echo, of the real glory promised us in Christ, received at the consummation of all things. (Colossians 1:27 – Christ in you the hope of glory.)


This perspective is important because of the temptation for the winners to let the win establish something about their identity or the quality of their prayers. If we are honest, we can admit an awareness of that temptation and even our succumbing to it by thinking we prayed better or are better when we win. This reality lies deep in our hearts even though it is wrong and is a great distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ (For a further exposition of this idea, see Chapter 3 of the book Does God Care Who Wins?)


The opposite side of this reality is just as prevalent. If we pray and lose, we can easily think God didn’t answer our prayer because there is something wrong with our prayer. Or worse, there is something wrong with us! Both of these ideas of deserved defeat are just as much a distortion of the gospel and God’s ways for his children as the distortion of deserved victory.  


If we pray and lose, we are instead called to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all creation, including our game, and trust that God had a higher, better purpose in answering our prayer the way he did. We can accept God’s will with grace and humility, allowing the disappointment to be real and owned. We can acknowledge and allow that disappointment to move us toward longing for the undeserved glory that will one day be ours in Christ at the consummation.


Should we pray to win? Absolutely.


How we pray to win matters. We should pray with an open, humble heart, willing to submit to God’s work of transformation of our hearts and our prayers and God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for us whether we win or lose.  


Top 10 Mistakes Sports Ministers Make

For 20 years plus CEDE Sports has been committed to come alongside Local Churches to catalyze a vigorous and effective pursuit of their mission to reach their communities through the tool of sports, recreation and fitness. One of the ways we accomplish this mission is mentoring Sports Ministers.

In the process of mentoring, we often discuss best practices from other churches as well as the corollary mistakes that well meaning Sports Ministers make. This discussion also usually includes surveying them about their mistakes in ministry.

The response has been tremendous; evidently this question touched a nerve. This blog is our third installment in the series Top 10 Mistakes Sports Ministers Make. (Please sure to read the first two installments here and here.)

Mistake #4
Evaluating success in numbers or in comparison to the ministry down the street.

Mark Twain once wrote, “Comparison is the death of joy.”

Chuck Swindoll said, “When the Lord makes it clear you’re to follow Him in this new direction, focus fully on Him and refuse to be distracted by comparisons with others.”

Ken Cross says, “Either comparison will puff up or tear you down, but it will never bring contentment.”

Mistake #3
Not developing infrastructure prior to pursuing growth, especially how you pursue the development of coaches and volunteers.

We tend to be so eager to start a league we neglect the hard work of strategic preparation. This could have been the #1 mistake, we see it so often.

My Mom worked many years in a large bank. She would always advocate for the tellers to have adequate training and even a stipend for their clothes because they are the face of the bank!

Those that God brings into your sphere of influence deserve to hear and see the gospel lived out using the tool of sports. Who is the face of the sports ministry? It is too late to develop them after the games begin. If this has happened to you, what will you do for the next season?

Mistake #2
Winning begins to eclipse everything. Sport becomes too big and ministry too small.

This mistake is especially true when your coaches are not developed by the Sports Minister. They simply play sports as they always have, WIN. They are not applying the gospel to what they are doing.

Mistake #1
Those in the sports ministry leadership do not know why you have a sports ministry. Neglecting clear communication of this mission/vision to the coaches, players and the church.

Have you seriously asked yourself the questions concerning your mission and how you are going to move toward it? Have you written it down in a clear way and communicated it with others in a way that they know what that mission is? If you are unsure, ask your most faithful volunteer to tell you what they have heard and see if it matches the vision God has given you.

Like the ESPN Top Ten Plays of the Day, you might not agree with the order in which these have been laid out. Curiously, I am interested in what you think the top three mistakes would be for you. Have we missed some? Email [email protected] and send me a list of your top three and I will report the results in a future blog.


Top 10 Mistakes Sports Ministers Make

For 20 years plus CEDE Sports has been committed to come alongside Local Churches to catalyze a vigorous and effective pursuit of their mission to reach their communities through the tool of sports, recreation and fitness. One of the ways we accomplish this mission is mentoring Sports Ministers.

In the process of mentoring, we often discuss best practices from other churches as well as the corollary mistakes that well meaning Sports Ministers make. This discussion also usually includes surveying them about their mistakes in ministry.

The response has been tremendous; evidently this question touched a nerve. This blog is our second installment in the series Top 10 Mistakes Sports Ministers Make (Please sure to read the first installment by clicking here).

Mistake #8
Forget about creating a leadership team, it is far too difficult. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

No doubt you have heard the saying, “If you want to go fast – go alone, if you want to go far – go with others”. That applies to Sports Ministry too. Have you thought of what will happen when you are no longer on the scene and you have not equipped anyone to carry on with this vital ministry?

Mistake #7
Being so busy that you are not utilizing the relationships that are built naturally through sports for true discipleship off the field/court.

I read a book one time by Bill Hull about the discipleship making pastor. He bluntly says if the church is not making disciples, the leadership of the church is in sin! The sin is not obeying the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20).

Mistake #6
Not communicating to the larger church body and staff how God is using the ministry and being surprised when they do not value it!

As a former large church pastor, former staff member, church planter, youth pastor, deacon and janitor – I got the most praise for being a church janitor because people noticed the clean floors, toilets etc. The story of sports ministry (usually the best evangelistic tool in the church if done well) must be told, especially to the entire staff. The Senior Pastor needs the stories of what God does to highlight God’s work! The Children’s Minister needs to know and notice that many unbelieving children are on the campus of the church other days besides Sunday. The value of relational ministry and the discipleship that happens must be communicated over and over. This requires that more than just you are noticing what God is doing!


Mistake #5
Using the same volunteers each season and burning them out. Then guilting/manipulating them into keep going, until they are bitter and angry and have to quit or leave the church to get a rest.  

This one need no comments except AMEN and from some of us we need to respond with “Oh Me!”

Can you guess the top four mistakes? Keep a look out for the last blog in this series.


Top 10 Mistakes Sports Ministers Make

For 20 plus years CEDE Sports has been committed to coming alongside Local Churches to catalyze a vigorous and effective pursuit of their mission to use the tool of sports to reach their communities. One of the ways we accomplish this is by mentoring Sports Ministers.

In the process of mentoring, we often discuss best practices from other churches as well as the corollary mistakes that well meaning Sports Ministers make.  This discussion also usually includes surveying them about their mistakes in ministry.

The response has been tremendous; evidently this question touched a nerve.  In the following blogs, I will outline the Top Ten Mistakes we have found, arranged in ascending order from 11 to 1. I know the title of this series of blogs is “Top Ten,” but #11 was so good I had to include it! Plus I am following a Biblical pattern! In the Bible there are a number of places where God says, “six things I hate, seven are an abomination….”

Mistake #11 Avoiding conflicts and difficult people, because deep down you think they might disappear if you ignore them, rather than apply the Gospel to the situation and lovingly confront, giving the individual an opportunity to repent and grow.

This mistake includes with it the fear of looking into the mirror and confronting what might be something that you need to repent and grow from as well!

Mistake #10 Not enough prayer before rolling out the program, during the leagues, or after.

Can we all agree with this one? How easy it is to simply do what we think is best, and not ask God or seek His favor.

Mistake #9 Ministries getting too comfortable with regular attendees and not aggressively seeking to reach the unreached.

“We have our number, church should be happy … but are we keeping the vision for the ministry in front of us?”   We did not start this sports ministry to reach a limited number of lost people. (Also see mistake #10 again!)

The next Blog will cover Mistakes #8 – #5. Hope this has been helpful!


I might say this to someone I think has too high an opinion of themselves or their abilities. “Get a grip” would be my reminder that they aren’t or can’t.  My exhortation would be a call to come back to reality.

Someone else might use it for someone who seems to be lost in fear or anxiety.  “Get a grip” would be an attempt to calm them down from their unrealistic emotions, to awaken them to look more carefully and truthfully at the situation.

“Get a grip!”  I would also use this phrase to paraphrase what I think the Apostle Paul says to his friends in Corinth as he closes out his first letter to them, what we call 1Corinthians.

“Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you,

which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.

Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

1Corinthians 15:1,2 NIV

Paul is writing to his fellow Christians in Corinth reminding them of the saving power of the gospel.  Here, Paul emphasizes the power of the gospel to save them not only from the penalty of sin past but also of the power of sin present.  He does so by using the present tense for the verb “saved” when he says “by this gospel you are saved.”  In the ESV, this phrase is translated “you are being saved.”

However, Paul wants these same Corinthians to understand this power for saving them from the power of sin is not automatically experienced. “By this gospel you are saved, if…”  This power is conditioned upon something from the Corinthians.  They must “hold fast” to the gospel to experience the power of the gospel to overcome the power of sin presently.

In other words, they have to keep a grip on the gospel.  The picture Paul is trying to draw here is that of having a grip on something and having someone trying to yank it out of that grasp.  The picture is of a tug of war.  In this case, what is being pulled back and forth is the gospel.

This is not some theoretical or inconsequential game.  What is at stake in this tugging is our ability to live in victory over the power of sin.  That victory depends on our keeping our grip on the gospel.

Paul understood this and exhorts his readers to “Get a grip!”  Be careful to not misunderstand what I am saying by using this exhortation.  I am not calling for greater human effort in our battle with sin.  Rather, this is a call to keep our grip on the gospel and the power of God found there, for “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (again present tense) Romans 1:16.

Paul understood the need for the power of God through the gospel.  He also understood something about getting this grip.  He knew it involved regular reminders about the gospel.  This is why he says to the Corinthians, “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you.”

They tended to forget.  So do we.  Just like them, we need to remember the gospel.  In light of this reality, author Jerry Bridges says it this way – “Preach the gospel to yourself everyday.”  (For more ideas of how you might “get a grip,” listen to this audio from a Church at Charlotte Adult Fellowship Class I recently taught.)

Where are you struggling these days in your battle with sin?  The key to your battle, to my and all believers’ battle, is the gospel and the power of God found there.  Experiencing that power involves holding on to the great truths of this gospel.

This is why there is such an ongoing tug of war going on for the gospel in all our lives.  Having heard Paul’s words, can you recognize that battle in your heart for your grip of the gospel?  In the light of that reality, resist that tug.  Pull back.  Fight against the forces that would steal the gospel from you and “GET A GRIP!!”



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