This series of blogs describes and explains the “5-B’s” of Evangelistic-Disciplemaking of The Sports Outreach Movement. It will explain the first “B” - Belonging
Belonging is the term used to articulate the first step in a person’s journey to become a “dedicated disciple” of Jesus Christ. It may seem counter-intuitive or to be out of order; especially for those committed to a theology that requires belief, baptism, behavior change and/or church membership as prerequisites to belonging to the church community. Yet, it takes but a brief reflection to understand belonging rightfully ushers the unchurched person into a community from which the gospel is “caught more than taught,” and thus, belonging leads to, and is often the pre-requisite for, belief, baptism, behavior change and church membership. Belonging is a vital first step for many reasons but before those can be explored, it must be recognized there are two major chasms, or obstacles, to connecting those far from Christ to a belonging sports community in a local congregation, and ultimately to Christ
Describing and Defining the Two “Dysconnects”
While sport, recreation and fitness ministries offer a most strategic and relevant tool for outreach, local congregations must find ways to bridge two substantial chasms separating the unchurched from becoming involved in congregational life, and ultimately from becoming dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ. These are termed: “dysconnects.” Misspelling is intentional because they reflect the dysfunction most Christians and Christian ministry experience as they strive to reach an increasingly secular world.
The First “Dysconnect” – From the Street to the Gym
The first “dysconnect” reflects the growing problem most local church sports ministries have in connecting secular people to their Sports Outreach Ministries. There are two relevant reasons for this recent “dysconnect.” Certainly the increasing secularization of society in general and the resultant discrimination and bigotry towards Christians has started to poison the hearts and minds of many towards anything to do with the church, however, a theological and philosophical shift in thinking by local church sports ministry leaders is a bigger concern. Many local church sports programs have implemented non-competitive models. This is based on a faulty theology that believes competition is innately and intrinsically evil. This includes such specifics as not keeping score, stats and/or league standings. In addition, many sports-related, para-ministries have created programmatic resources such as non-competitive leagues, camps, clinics and services which they provide to churches. The end result is problematic for any church wanting to reach those far from Christ. Non-competitive sports leagues lack the necessary strategic relevance and “staying power” to attract and/or keep large segments of the unchurched community. Thus the first chasm, or “dysconnect,” results in churches that are less able to attract the truly unchurched person to their gyms and/or keep them involved over a long period of time.
The Second “Dysconnect” – From the Gym to the Sanctuary
The second “dysconnect” has a much longer history, and has beset The Church for centuries. Both local church sports ministries and sport-related, para-ministries have always struggled to move people from their sports outreach activities to full participation in the overall activities of a local congregation, and thus their ultimate goal of making dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ goes unfulfilled. This second “dysconnect,” as well as the first, can be greatly overcome by fully understanding and embracing the utter importance of the first “B.” The answer for the para-ministry community and the local church community is however, much simpler to understand in concept than it is to implement in reality.
The next blog will outline strategies for overcoming these dysconnects.
You can get a copy of Sports Outreach Fundamentals in the bookstore: https://csrm.app.neoncrm.com/np/clients/csrm/product.jsp?product=10&