Written by Bob Schindler, Executive Director of CEDE Partners – an Initiative of CEDE Sports
The primary initiatives of sports, rec, and fitness ministries are currently either cancelled or postponed.
Not only these ministries but everyone, almost everywhere, is having to adjust to cancellations or postponements. With many schools closed and moving to some kind of online platform, many businesses closed or having their employees working remotely, and travel limited to only vital, essential trips, adjusting is a common reality.
I want to pose this question to you – “How do you handle it when ministry initiatives (or whatever else you want to put in there) are either postponed or cancelled?”
I would offer two suggestions in answer to this question:
- Process the disappointment
- Look for the opportunities
On this first point, this only applies to the cancellation or postponement of things that matter. In some cases, and most if we are talking about sports, rec, and fitness initiatives, these initiatives are vital activities to the health of the ministry. As a leader of one of those ministries, you especially feel that disappointment.
How Do We Handle Disappointment?
Most of us don’t deal with disappointment well. We either run from it or wallow in it, neither which brings healing and lasting motivation. As followers of Christ, instead, we can embrace the disappointment, knowing that our God is “the father of mercy and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) There is no disappointment he cannot understand, sympathize with, and comfort.
This comfort is one of the amazing aspects of Christianity. No other worldview provides such a source of comfort. All other worldviews tell us our disappointment comes from:
- Previous wrongdoings whose circumstances should be embraced as deserved just punishment
- Something illustrative to demonstrate the wrong desire that caused the disappointment with the resulting denial of that desire
- Weakness, circumstances that need to be overcome rather than to be comforted in
- Something meaningless, a bad twist of the cause and effects of the past and to be accepted apathetically
How Does Christianity Portray Disappointment?
Only Christianity tells us to come to God in our disappointment, to open it up to him in all its full flavor. In that exchange, he may point out the inappropriateness of our disappointments. But, in doing so, God never shames us, tell us they are “deserved”, says to not care about the things we care about, or to love less or not at all. What He tells us in that disappointment is that He cares, He understands and sympathizes, and He is at work in them for good. His final encouragement is to love Him more amidst the disappointment, for in him there is no disappointment. As Tim Keller puts it, to “re-order our loves.”
Processing our disappointment well strengthens and moves us beyond the disappointment, in a good way, to our next point.
If we go to God, as He reminds us of His control and the good purposes He is fulfilling, our hearts open up to the opportunities. Then we can pursue these opportunities in the space the cancellation/postponement creates. We can look to God in hope for how He is still at work. As we do this our hearts are motivated to actually think and pray about the new reality of our situation.
Cancellations and Postponements Create Space.
Processing well prepares us to step into that space creatively, dependently. This idea is what Paul speaks further in 2 Corinthians 1:6, the comfort of God produces the patient endurance of our struggles. In other words, the comfort of God empowers us to move beyond those disappointments and look for opportunities.
To give you some ideas of what you might pursue in the space provided by the cancellations or postponements, here is a video of 18 sports, rec, and fitness ministers who recently met to talk about how they and their churches are responding to the virus situation.
You may be tempted to only watch the video and to forgo the processing I outlined. I hope you won’t. I hope, instead, you will first process effectively, and, from that processing, find God’s comfort energizing you to pursue either some of these ideas or several other opportunities that God reveals.
So, “How do you handle it when ministry initiatives are either postponed or cancelled?” in the space from cancelling/postponement, process your disappointment with God and look to him for the opportunities he provides.