Written by Bob Schindler, Executive Director of CEDE Partners – an Initiative of CEDE Sports
“Way to go, Coach. Way to teach your players to play dirty!” the frustrated parent from the opposing team blurted out and then walked away.
“I hope at least one of your players gets saved this season!” he added as he left.
This situation illustrates the confusion in the Church about what it means to play a sport for the glory of God.
This type of interaction is not that unusual particularly around the basketball season until you understand something about the coach and the parent involved. The Leader of this Sports Ministry thinks the coach really “gets it” – focusing heavily on ministry but not to the exclusion of athletic development. “His players don’t play dirty. They just play hard,” the leader told me.
The frustrated Parent actually leads a para-church Sports Ministry. He had a very different view about what Christ-like athletes look like.
But where do people turn to clear up this confusion?
There seems to be few voices out there that speak practically to this issue, and in the void, the Church ends up confused. Some Christians have this idea that to play for the glory of God is to play “nice”. Others think that playing for the glory of God means to point to the sky when you score or do something else good. Still others think that it means to play hard.
At CEDE Sports, we think it is extremely important for the Church to speak into this confusion and clear the fog. We think it is important for the Church to make a biblical case for redeemed sports and exactly what it means to coach, play or spectate for the glory of God. As such, the responsibility to equip the Church to do so lies squarely on the shoulders of those who lead Sports Ministries.
With that in mind, I want to ask some questions:
– How do you handle issues like the one mentioned at the beginning of this article – with clarity or confusion?
– Are you acquainted with the voices out in society that speak to this issue – either Christian or secular?
– Do you have in mind a clear explanation of what it means to play “for the glory of God”?
– Have you ever studied this topic or topics related to it?
If you find yourself also confused or overwhelmed, looking for help to sort through this confusion, here are a couple of resources that will help:
– For the Love of the Game by CEDE Sports
– Theology of Competition – Leadership Center class offered in Fall of 2020