reasons for Sports Ministry…

Greetings from KY.  I have been absent from this blog for awhile, but I hope to change that with more regular posting.  One of my friends asked me to contribute monthly to a blog that his church does.  The post below is my first blog post for them that I wanted to share with you all.  It gives insight into why I am so passionate about using sports for Christ and hopefully it will encourage you to do the same.  I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your feedback!

SPORT_1Hello, my name is Andy Owens and I serve with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Central and Eastern, KY as an Area Representative.  Even before, I went on full time staff with FCA God really gave me a passion for Sports Ministry, where you use sports and recreation as a tool to reach others for Christ.  So, for the past 17 years in some form I have been working full time in sports ministry.  For at least my first few blog posts I would love to share with you about how sports and recreation can intersect with your faith and family.  How these things don’t have to become idols or distractions in your life and walk with Christ but powerful tools.

Most of you will probably agree we live in a culture where sports, athletes, and coaches are very often idolized.  Our kids, and even adults, look up to these figures in sports like they are heroes.   As a result, Christians tend to fall into two categories when it comes to sports and athletics.

The first is that you really can’t tell that much difference between them and the rest of the world.  Even though they claim Christ as king of their life, participating in athletics or having their children in athletics is truly their main priority.  It affects the jobs they take, their moods, how they treat their family and friends, their church attendance and much more.  When it comes down to it, they do have a god in their life, but it is the idol of sports.

The second category that Christians tend to fall in to is that of separation.  They see the danger of letting sports and athletics become a god or at the very least a high priority and so they choose to stay away and not participate.  These people see sports and athletics as worldly and something that should be abstained from.

I would like to suggest to you that the proper way to view sports and athletics is in the middle of these two views.  One of the things I love about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is our vision statement which says, “To see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches.”  Both categories I mentioned above will agree that sports have a high place of value in our culture.  So rather than letting it rule our lives or staying totally away from it, let’s use it as FCA does, to impact our world for Christ.

In a sport crazed culture, those who participate are given a platform where there are people looking up to them as an example.  Billy Graham once said that in a year a coach will have the opportunity to impact more people for Christ than the average Christian will in their entire lifetime.  That is an opportunity to share Christ that we can’t waste on a poor testimony or choosing to stay away from.  For the athlete, former NBA star Charles Barkley once said that people shouldn’t look up to him and that he wasn’t a “Role Model.”  The problem with that statement is that in sports you don’t have a choice.  You have a platform and therefore you are a role model!  This is another platform that we as Christians must seek to take advantage of for Christ.

When you walk in any sports arena you see people of different ages, races, religions, and all kinds of other diversities.  As you look at these people it become abundantly clear that sports cross all kinds of social and economic barriers.  So, why as people that have been given the command to “go into the world and make disciples,” wouldn’t we use sports as a tool to obey the command that God has given us!

So, maybe you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you agree with me, but you are just not that into sports.   How does this apply to you?  Well, I would point out that as Christ-followers each of us has been given different gifts that give us each different platforms of influence in our world.  Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Whatever plat form you have been given, use it to let your light shine before others and point them to Christ.  If you are an artist, use your art to point them to Christ.  If you are a musician, use your music to point them to Christ.  If you are a talker who has been given the gift of gab, use those social skills to point others to Christ.  If you are a coach or athlete, or just love sports, use the tool of sports and athletics to point others to Christ!

In our sinful sports crazed world, we must use the gift of athletics to reach the lost for Christ

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Final Update from FCA Leadership Camp 2015

thumb_IMG_4412_1024With the whirlwind that was the last day and a half of camp I wasn’t able to to post about what happened due to know time available.  However I am happy to tell you that God truly blessed and worked through the lives of our students.  On Saturday the students had their big event of the weekend.  The one thing that they all love, but are scared to death of at the same time.  They went out into Campbellsville, KY on Saturday afternoon on their annual faith trip.  On this trip the students take all the training they have received at camp and go out door to door in the surrounding community and share their faith with complete strangers.  I personally love when they come back to campus and I get the opportunity to spend time hearing about all their experiences and how exciting it was for them to share their faith.  We now ask that you pray that this boldness and excitement will carry on now that they are home and that they will be bold in their home, school, and community here in Lee County.

On Saturday evening the students were put to work in chapel.  Our speaker, Mark Cahill, did a talk where the first 20 minutes he gave a talk about various aspects of Christianity and sprinkled in several false teachings.  Then for the next hour he asked the students to tell him what of what he said was wrong and find scriptures to prove it.  It was great to see our students listen so intently and pull out their Bible searching for answers.  It was a challenge that they don’t typically get but rose to the occasion to seek truth in God’s Word!

Sunday was a great wrap up of all the various aspects of camp that our students love.  The once again got to spend time praising God through song and prayer.  Both of the speakers at camp issued final challenges to the students to be bold in their faith at home and school.  Maeven and Judah even got in on the final chapel services as their kids camp sang in front of over 500 FCA students and leaders!

One of my favorite parts of camp is when the students are getting ready to leave, as we watch them say good by to good friends that they met at camp.  These are friendships based in a mutual love of Christ and have potential to be life long and life changing relationships.

FCA Leadership Camp 2015 was definitely a huge success.  If you helped support us through prayer, finances, or both we thank you so very much.  Keep praying that our students will be bold for Christ with all they have learned at camp and will keep striving to grow in their relationship with Him!

2015 FCA Leadership Camp Update and social media frustration…

IMG_3655Friday started off bright and early for us hear at the 2015 FCA Leadership Camp.  Students were all gathered by 7:30 for a time of exercise and prayer to start the day.  From there they were able to have both time to go get breakfast and also take time for their personal devotions.  It was awesome walking around the campus here at Campbellsville University and see so many of our FCA students alone with their Bible studying God’s Word and spending time praying to Him!

From the quiet time we went to our morning chapel session where we were once again blessed through the praise and worship music.  Seeing students who normally are more self conscious about what people think of them openly lifting praises to God is a great thing to be a part of.  The morning speaker challenged the students on how the only way to live an Undefeated life is to live for Christ!  After the morning chapel service the students spent the next couple of hours either in team competition or in their Huddles doing small group Bible study!  Erin and I really enjoyed watching our students compete against each other in dodgeball!

Before lunch the students had a team building session where they were taught about how to share their faith and impact their schools for Christ.  Today they will actually be having another team time and get more training that they will be able to put into practice right away.  Please be in prayer for our students as they take what they have learned at Camp this week in team training times, chapel services, huddles, and in fellowship with fellow student believers and go out into the local community and do door to door evangelism!

During the afternoon on Friday the students had lots of fun activities to keep them busy.  More games were played and our girls especially got into “Tubemania!”  One of the best parts of Friday afternoons for the students and families here is free time where you can rest, play basketball and other games, and even take advantage of the large indoor pool.  My daughter was thrilled to be able to go swimming with “her teenagers.”

Friday evening was packed with lots of fun and lots of training.  The students were treated to a Christian illusionist who uses magic tricks to share the love of Christ.  Everyone from my little kids, to our teens, to Erin and I enjoyed watching all the slight of hand and tricks the illusionist used and seeing how he was using his gifts for Christ.  From this treat we dived right back into evening chapel with a great time of praising God and hearing from our speaker about how we can effectively share the Gospel. Our speaker definitely holds no punches when challenging our students about what a true leader for Christ looks like.

As far as camp goes it was a truly great day and watching our students interact and grow has been extremely encouraging.  Especially on a day where as a follower of Christ their has been so much frustration and discouragement.  I don’t want to get into the whole SCOTUS debate over the decision that was made on Gay marriage today.  Most anyone who knows me knows what I believe and my sadness at the court ruling and state of affairs in our country.  What saddened me most as I looked through various forms of social media today was so many “Christian” friends celebrating the SCOTUS ruling.  Friends who once would have said they believe in the Bible as God’s Holy Infallible Word, now celebrating something (sin) that goes directly against God’s Word.  As I read so many of these people putting up the hashtag “Love Wins,” I grew even sadder and more frustrated that people have forgotten true Love won over 2,000 years ago when Christ laid down his live for our sins, took a punishment we deserved, and rose and conquered death and the grave.  Doing so to show love and forgiveness to every sinner.  Today was not a Love issue at our forefront it’s a sin issue, and thankfully we have a God who’s Love has already won and we can share that with anyone caught in any sin.  We can’t be wishy washy Christians anymore scared to take a stand and openly showing on social media we don’t know what we believe as we spew out praise for things that clearly goes against the Word of a God who loves us so much.  We have to be solid, we have to be ready to show love and share God’s good news, to take a stand when necessary, and to know what we believe and why.  And that’s why last night I didn’t go to bed depressed over the day’s events.  Because I know that right now over 500 students are here at FCA Leadership Camp praising God, learning about who He is, being trained to to know what they believe and why, and trained in how to share this uncompromising Love to all they come in contact with.  May we be as diligent and bold for Christ as they are!

slow summer day…

rec center signageToday, has been a slow one so far here at the Rec Center.  Not a lot of people coming in to take advantage of our fitness center or bowling today.  It’s the time of year where many people are on vacation or out of town and so I know that slows things down a bit.  At the same time there are many people that could come out that aren’t.  Please pray that people will come out and use our facility and most importantly that we will have opportunities to interact with our community, build relationships, and share Christ.  We want to take full advantage of every opportunity that Christ gives us here at the Lee County Rec Center and we ask you to pray for our faithfulness to do so.

First week of camp 2015…

11campsign2The first week of camp kicked off yesterday at Youth Haven Bible Camp with our annual Teen Camp.  While most of the time I work at the Lee County Recreational Center, I was able to go and help pick up campers for Teen Camp.  Most of the campers that I helped pick up were scholarship campers who have either earned a free week of camp or have been sponsored.   Seeing these kids arrive to meet our van and be so excited to go off to camp or a week was a huge blessing.   I know all the fun that awaits them at camp and all the hard work that has gone into preparing activities, devotions, chapel services, and making sure these campers know how much that God loves them and how they can have a relationship with Him.  Camp, as I have shared before had a profound impact on my walk with Christ and I know it’s making a difference in the lives of all this year’s campers as well.  Please be in prayer this week that God will move mightily at Youth Haven Bible Camp. Pray that many students will accept Christ as their personal savior and pray that those who have already made that decision will possibly give their lives to full time ministry.  God is going to do great things and I thank your for your partnership in prayer!

youth bowling league starting back again…

After School Jr LeagueWith the start of our fall bowling leagues at the Rec Center also comes the start of our After School Youth Bowling League outreach!  This is a great outreach that we do where students K through 12 can come out each Monday, bowl two games of bowling, receive instruction, pizza, and a drink.  We are able to take buses and pick the students up at their schools and bring them out.  The parents can either pick the students up at the Rec Center or to one of three drop off points.  Over the past few years we have had lots of students participate in this program.  Much of the outreach portion has been through relational evangelism and had even had students accept Christ.  We have also had various times where we have presented the Gospel with our students with everyone listening.  This year we hope to have more times where the Gospel is shared corporately and then have solid Christian adults who are available to follow up with the students.  Please join me in praying that God will begin working in the lives of the students who are going to attend this outreach even now.  Pray that we will have a great turn out and that many student will choose to follow Christ!  Also, pray for plenty of adult volunteers to work with us with our student.  Also, consider whether or not you could volunteer a mere hour and a half a week to see lives changed for Christ!

2014 FCA Leadership Camp – Day 4 update

Our Leadership Team!

Our Leadership Team!

It’s been a busy past few days, but we are now back home safe and sound in Beattyville after another great year at FCA Leadership Camp!  We had a great time and were greatly encouraged by the the training and speaking we heard.

Sunday is the shortest day of camp, but is by far one of the busiest days, if not the busiest day.  Students were up bright and early for calisthenics and quiet time.   After a quick breakfast the students went to the first chapel service of the day.  Their the speaker once again challenged our students to be disciple makers.  He challenged them to seek out disciples based on those who have a desire to learn more about Christ and not on looks, popularity, or the things the world looks at.

Following that service the students had a short break to meet one final time with their huddle groups and discuss all they had learned over the course of the weekend.  Our students really enjoyed their huddle groups and made some great friends as they dived into the Word together.

After Huddle Groups the students gathered one last time in the chapel for a time of worship and hearing from our main speaker, Ken Watson.   Ken gave the students a final challenge to be All In Leaders for Christ.  He was very clear in letting them know that being All in for Christ would cost them something.  Yet God wants all of them for all of Him.

After chapel our students spent some time saying their good byes before we left to head back to Beattyville.  On the way home I spent some time talking with our students about their experiences at camp.  I challenged them to not only be All In Leaders for Christ, but also to be stronger bolder leaders in our FCA Huddle this year.

I can honestly say that this is probably one of the best years of FCA Leadership Camp that we have ever been to.  We took a great group of kids and heard very clear and challenging messages.  I know God is working in the lives of our students. Please pray that they will be open to His leading.  Pray they will be fateful to serve Him in their school and huddles.  Pray for Erin and I that we will be able to lead and challenge our students to apply all they have learned this week.

God has great plans for our FCA Huddles and we ask you to keep praying!