Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Doing sports ministry

I had the privilege of attending a seminar on sports and recreational ministry as a way of spreading the gospel of Christ and strengthening the local churches. The three-day conference, called Winning for Christ, was held at the Higher Rock Christian Church in Timog Avenue, and it was attended both by Higher Rock members as well as brethren from other churches in the city.

Now I'm not really bestfriends with sports—basketball, least of all—but Pastor Bob Amigo was right when he told the congregation that one doesn't need to be into sports to appreciate the lessons that would be taught there. I thank the Lord for this opportunity to grow in my Christian walk.

The speaker, Pastor Rodger Oswald, is the executive director of Church Sports International, a "ministry designed to serve the local church, mission agencies, and sports parachurch ministries as they would seek to use sports and recreation as church planting or church growth tools." Pastor Rodger developed the curriculum for the Sports Ministry Department of The Master's College (run by Dr. John MacArthur's church). By God's sovereignty, Pastor Bob got in touch with Pastor Rodger, and the latter desired to speak in the Philippines.

The conference began by defining and stressing the importance of a sports ministry. By definition, sports ministry is "the careful use of any recreational or sporting activity that allows the participant to worship God, serve the church in building up the believer, and serve the lost by creating an environment to manifest Christ in actions and proclamation."

Sports is a common language among people. They won't go to church, but they'd go see a basketball match. They won't understand salvation, but they'd know what a foul means. So, the idea was, why not use sports to evangelize, to share Christ, and to show His love to the community?

Pastor Rodger spent a substantial amount of time in defense of this ministry. From what I gather, a number of pastors are opposed to this, citing that sports is sinful, idolatrous, and may pose as a stumbling block to believers. His argument was that no where in the Bible are these arguments found. Sports is inherently neutral; it is the people who do sports who are sinful. Sports and recreation ministry is biblical and culturally/historically consistent, strategic, and practically expedient.

Kito, a friend from church, told me, "This is by far the most practical church conference I've attended." I agree. After dealing with the theological, scriptural, and philosophical foundations, the conference shifted to how-to-do-its. With his wealth of experience, Pastor Rodger carefully outlined how to start a sports ministry, recruit and train leaders, do camps and training sessions evangelistically, disciple, and use competition to witness for Christ.

All these Pastor Rodger discussed despite his back ache. It was so encouraging to see how a man in his old age could be filled with so much love for the Savior, having devoted his life in bringing people to a saving knowledge of the Lord.

If you're interested in having this ministry in your local church, you can access the following websites: Crosstraining Publishing, Winning Run, Sports Outreach International, and CSI.

And if you need someone to play with, I'll be here. I'm supposed to be good in Scrabble.

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