Sports Chaplaincy – An Isolated Ministry that contradicts a biblical model?

Two years ago one of our team members Ken Cross did a survey of existing sports chaplains, he asked them one simple question?  What is your biggest challenge?  The answers came back consistently time and time again – isolation and finance.  Chaplains reported to be often misunderstood in their churches, the congregation not having a clear comprehension of the demands of the role and assuming it was just a ministry jolly – the opportunity to rub shoulders with the sporting famous and get free tickets. If only they knew.

Chaplains also struggled with their identity within the club and sport where they operated.  That insider / outsider feeling we all know so well, where their role is not communicated effectively to the team.  A surprising finding from the research was many chaplains who were part of sports ministry organizations also experienced the same levels of remoteness.

Jesus’ model for going out into the world is pretty clear in Luke 10:1, they went two by two.  So should it be any different for sports chaplains?  Of course it is difficult if we go against a scriptural precedent!  It is though not as simple as that, sporting environments are fiercely protected – often fortresses particularly at an elite level, getting one chaplain in is a challenge, never mind two.  So what’s the solution?

Four ways for sports chaplains to guard against isolation:

1. Have you considered the option of trying to bring in another chaplain to your setting?  We believe chaplaincy operates best, where possible, in teams.  For example a number of clubs are taking in a chaplain for their academy team, or reserves, or to focus on the admin team, etc.

2.  Could you link up with a Christian at your sports setting that you could join with and pray for your local sport together?

3.   Are there a couple of friends at church who you could meet with openly and discuss the challenges you face and pray together?

4.  Are there other sports chaplains that you could connect with and be mutually accountable?

The 4th reason is why we have set up ‘CEDE Network – the worldwide sports chaplaincy registry’ to allow sports chaplains to connect with each other and encourage one another in their ministry.
To help us all feel connected and together as we seek to serve the world of professional and amateur sport.  If you are a Sports Chaplain please join us for free support and resource at the CEDE Network.

Please follow along as we look at chaplaincy in a politically correct culture in next month’s blog.


Rich Gamble

CEDE Network Director


Richard Gamble

Richard Gamble

Former Leicester City Chaplain Former Olympic Chaplain