By Jason Miller
Having a plan is good. Organization is good. Being prepared is good. But…is it possible to “plan God out”? There are some who will read this and answer no, that there is no way to have anything that God is not a part of. Okay…before we get into being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good, let me say that I am not claiming to be able to do anything apart from God. What I am saying is that in ministry we can get so focused on the plan that we rob ourselves of doing ministry.
This may not be a frustration of yours, but it is for me. We spend so much time “planning” to do ministry that we often miss the opportunity for ministry. Is it because we’re too scared? Is it because we don’t believe in ourselves? Is it because we don’t believe God will do what He says? The thing that frustrates me the most is when I have meeting after meeting after meeting about how to do ministry, instead of just getting out there and doing ministry! I understand that my mindset of “while you’re planning how to do ministry I’ll be out doing ministry…you can tell me how your plan went later” frustrates some. I also understand that there is a balance and one needs the other to be excellent, but I fear that we spend most of our time constructing this great plan for how to do ministry while the people just need to be ministered to. When Jesus told the disciples to follow Him, did they go back and consult their co-workers? Did they schedule meetings to decide whether this was the best thing to do? Did they come up with a plan for how it would be most effective? I know all of this sounds silly, yet this is what we do!
Jesus Christ tells us to reach people for Him. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Those are the two greatest commandments. Ministry is not hard, yet we complicate it. Here’s the catch…God’s will for our lives is for us to simply obey Him. If we are walking with Him, He will direct whatever we set out to do because we will be doing what He wants us to.
So how does this apply to sports ministry?
All the same things apply. Sports Ministry is not complicated. The reason I say that is because if sports are not complicated and ministry is not complicated then sports ministry can’t be complicated. Sports is a universal language that could be the only thing that we know that can overcome the obstacles that are race, sex, religion, and social status. We complicate sports by creating all these rules that attempt to accommodate everyone because, after all, it is ministry right? We don’t want things to be too hard or to cause anyone to feel bad (God forbid we say the “w” word…win), so we work ourselves tired so that we can “minister” to families. That will never work. We all know that you can’t please everyone. What happens is that in our attempt to “minister” we are actually impacting families negatively. Sports are simple. People already know sports. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
We complicate ministry by doing exactly what was mentioned above. By recreating the sport, we inevitably create a “christians only” league, where there’s no fighting, cursing, anger, hatred, etc., etc. It bugs me to no end to hear people call our leagues, a “church league”. I know most of the people are not referring to what I just mentioned, but that is sort of the mindset of many Christians as we do ministry. Ministry is simple. Ministry is using whatever to love on people in order to usher them into the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave us a darn good model. Again, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
So, can we “plan God out”? The answer has to be yes. If we focus so much of our time on planning to do ministry that we miss out on the opportunity to minister, then aren’t we telling God that He has to wait on us? I challenge all of us who are doing ministry to pay close attention to Proverbs 16:9 – In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (NIV). The Message states it this way – We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.