Beyond the Gold: What Every Church Needs to Know About Sports Ministry
Book review by Dr. Greg Linville
If you are only going to read one book about Sports Ministry this year, make it Beyond the Gold by Bryan Mason. Not only is this the best Sports Ministry Book of the year, it is in the top five of the last decade. What makes it required reading for all Sports Outreach Ministers is how relevant and practical it is. The people who have influenced Bryan, and whom he generously credits, reads like a who’s who of the Sports Outreach Era’s Leaders: Rodger Oswald, Steve Quatro, Steve Conner, Stuart Weir, Graham Daniels and many more. Mason insightfully weaves the best of what he has learned from others and from his own extensive international experiences into an easy to understand model for local church Sports Outreach.
Bryan Mason is a retiring man – having retired three times and counting! Mason first retired from a career as “deputy head teacher of a large Yorkshire comprehensive school” (think physical education teacher with administrative duties). Then after pioneering the local church work for Christians In Sport, Mason became the European Director for CSRM. He is currently the Executive Director of Higher Sports which develops sports outreach resources for local churches desiring to impact their communities for the Gospel. Our hope is he will not retire from Sports Outreach anytime soon.
Mason lives in Crakehall, England with his wife Judith where the two of them oversee both the development of Higher Sports and their growing “team” of grandchildren. Bryan Mason has experienced local church Sports Outreach Ministries on at least four continents and this book is the culmination of all he has learned and experienced. He is one of the most respected people of the entire Sports Outreach Era and the world’s preeminent authority on international local church Sports Outreach.
Chapter #1 provides an overview of the history of the Muscular Christianity Movement and a brief survey of many influential Sports Outreach Era pioneers from the mid 20th Century to the present day. There is also a brief discussion of the Biblical basis for Sports and Competition
Chapter #2 outlines a pragmatic rationale for why churches should consider Sports Outreach including a listing of the various groups of people sports and recreation will reach
Chapter #3 details a wonderful template for how to establish a vision for a local church Sports Outreach and many practical tips on how to organize and administrate it
Chapter #4 picks up where chapter three ends. It goes deeper into the administrative aspects including items such as facilities, resources and finance. It also opens the door for how to organize specific outreaches
Chapter #5 is a compendium of tried and true Sports Outreaches from the “one off” event to the ongoing leagues, camps and activities. It will especially appeal to those just starting out but the jewels outlined in this chapter are relevant for leaders of all stripes
Chapter #6 features the “how to’s” of sports camps, courses and series
Chapter #7 has a few nuggets on how to incorporate fitness into local church sports outreach. An increasingly relevant ministry for both a new health-conscious younger generation and the ever increasing numbers of seniors
Chapter #8 is a most comprehensive and helpful guide to individuals and ministries who provide consultation, resources and equipment for local church Sports Outreach Ministry
Chapter #9 is an American perspective on how to initiate and implement a local church Sports Outreach
Chapter #10 focuses on discipleship with local church Sports Outreach with an emphasis on “passing on the torch”
Chapter #11 details the history and future of how local churches can connect with the Olympics in their Sports Outreach
New Concept Found in this Book
What may be new to some who read this book is the phrase Mason has coined: “The church must learn to play away.”
Catch Phrases Worth Remembering
• Churches need to learn to “play away.” A great sporting image to communicate unless the local church learns how to “play” in the court of the secular world it will become more and more irrelevant
• “The one who slows down the least is the winner.”
• The local church is to “bring heaven down to the playing fields, the track and the gymnasium.”
• The church has forgotten “there is a war on...new ground to be taken and old ground reclaimed”
• “The one-off meeting with the well known sports personality…is not genuine Sports Ministry unless crafted around a regular ongoing” Sports Outreach program
How to Use this Book
1. As the basis for a church staff retreat and/or a discussion for church elders and leaders
2. Required reading for University and Seminary courses
3. Informal training of local Church Sports Outreach Staff and volunteers
4. All Para-sports ministry leaders who want to better understand the heartbeat of local church Sports Outreach Ministries
Where to get the Book – Stateside: at smile.amazon.com. England and Europe: www.highersports.org
I worked with Bryan on the CSRM staff and consider him and Judith as two of my dearest friends. Bryan quotes me often in this book and generously compliments me many other times. In addition he granted me the great honor of writing chapter nine. We both feel privileged to be contemporary links in the centuries old “North Atlantic Corridor” of Sport and Faith Ministers. May this book be used to keep that tradition alive for many more generations.