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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giving gifts that matter…

fcabibleLast week, I had the pleasure of visiting two new schools (new to me) that were either wanting to start an FCA Huddle or have been going with no FCA staff presence.  In both of these situations I was blessed to meet teachers that genuinely care for their students and want to see them come to know Christ.  In both situations I was able to leave one of our FCA Coaches Bibles with the teacher and it was great to see how they were so appreciative to not only have a copy of God’s Word, but one specifically designed to help them grow in their walk as coaches/teachers and reach their students.  Coming out of the Christmas season I have given many gifts lately.  However, it was so refreshing and just a blessing to me to see true joy that comes from giving and receiving gifts that will make an impact on eternity for Christ.  I pray that God will give me more and more opportunities to share gifts of the Gospel!

encouragement from my daughter…

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My sweet Maeven on our “Date!”

If you have been following this blog or just know me in general you know that this has been a crazy year for me and my family.  After much prayer we felt God leading us from a ministry where we had spent the past 11 years into full time ministry with FCA.  That led to not only changing ministries, but selling our house, buying a new house and moving, having to go back out on deputation to raise quite a bit more financial support and countless other changes to our family life.  Then once things were finally starting to feel a bit more settled, my wife Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy.

Through all these changes and events I have had to do more thinking and praying than I ever thought possible.  I have truly seen where I really have no control over anything and God has control over everything.  I have seen things that look like huge mistakes turn out to be God’s way of providing for future needs.  It’s been a true time of faith development in my life.

Even though I have seen my faith grow and my dependence on God grow over these past few months there have been times I have definitely struggled with depression and even wondering if have made the right choices.  As the uncertainty of financial support has weighed on me and just the stress of learning a new ministry and making new contacts there have been those times where I have questioned whether or not I should have done the easy thing and stay where I knew what I had to do and knew the finances would be enough.  These particular doubts changed for me last Thursday as I took a cute little 6 year old out on a date.

Last Thursday my son Judah had to go to the eye doctor and so my wife asked me to take our daughter Maeven out on a little date.  It was funny, because Maeven was so excited she got all dressed up for me and even put on a little “makeup” (chapstick lip balm) for the date.  So while Mommy and Judah were at the eye doctor, Maeven and I went to Dunkin Donuts for our breakfast date of frozen hot chocolate and peppermint donuts.  Maeven made sure we got the big comfy leather seats where we could talk comfortably as we munched on our goodies.

I started out asking her how her school year was going and about her new friends that she had made, and of course about what she wanted for Christmas.  Maeven then surprised me and asked me why we had moved to Richmond this year.   I told her that Mom and Dad knew God wanted us to work with FCA and Richmond was where He wanted us to do that.  I then asked her if she was happy with our move or not?

One thing you need to know about my daughter is that when asked a question, she is very high truth and tells you exactly what she is thinking.  With no thought at all, Maeven said, “Yes!”  I then asked her why she was so happy with our move.  Once again without having time to think Maeven said to me, “because you are home more Daddy and I get to spend lots of time with you!”

Right away I told her that I loved that too and did my best to fight back the urge to tear up hearing those words from my sweet girl.  All those worries about whether or not I had made the right decision to transition ministries and move my family really melted away.  While I am so thankful for all the years of ministry I had previously had there was so much time that I was away from my family.  And I always justified it by saying that the ministry was important and that my kids were too little to notice.  However, as Maeven’s moment of truth had shown me, they had noticed.  They knew there dad wasn’t around as much as they would like me to be and I knew that I had missed a lot.

Within my new ministry role, I know there will be lots of ups and downs, lots of stresses and pressures, and lots of time that I am out from my family.  At the same time it does afford me much more time to spend with my family and be there when they need me to be.  Whether that be taking care of my wife as she recovers from here battle with breast cancer or just having that needed quality time with my kids I am truly thankful for all that God has brought us through this year and all that is to come.  I am so thankful that He can use a sweet 6 year old girl to bring encouragement and joy too!

#GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday - FB Image square - option EThe next week is going to be a busy time for everyone as Thanksgiving is approaching fast. Over the years the days after Thanksgiving have all been given various consumer/business based names in an attempt to kick off the Christmas buying season. On Friday and in some places Thursday, things get going with Black Friday. On Saturday people are encouraged to shop local and get out for Small Business Saturday. Lastly on Monday, you have Cyber Monday where you can find all those good deals online! However, have you heard of Giving Tuesday?

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is now known as Giving Tuesday. It’s a day designed to move past all the consumerism that takes place right after Thanksgiving and for us to look to various charities, ministries, and other ways we can give to help out. It’s a really great opportunity to give back.

This year we would like to ask you to consider joining in supporting our ministry with FCA on Giving Tuesday. You can click on the link on the right hand side of our page and be taken to our myFCA page where you can set up a one time or automatic monthly gift. As we stated in our previous post we are currently at about 70% of our committed support goal. Please pray about helping us reach full 100% by becoming a monthly partner on our Home Team. Maybe you are unable to join us in a monthly way, would you please pray about becoming an annual donor or at least giving a year end gift on Giving Tuesday? If you would rather not give online, but would like to give please let us know and we will get you that information right away. And the good news is you can join us before and after Giving Tuesday as well!!!

When Giving Tuesday comes next week please consider donating to our family and the ministry of Fellowship of Christian Athletes!

still working on support…

fca_logo1A couple of posts ago I shared about my transition to working full time with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  So far I have enjoyed my first month on staff.  Even though I am still not plugged into all that I am going to be doing, I have loved getting to know the other staff and making new connections in our new town as well.  My main assignment is still working on getting the rest of our needed financial support.  We are currently at a little over 60% of our needed goals, but several people have promised to start giving regularly and we are waiting to see what those commitments will be.  I would love the opportunity to come share with you about what my new role with FCA will be and also how you can partner with us.  If you want to meet please let me know and we will get together!  Also, if you know you would already like to partners with my family and I, check out our online support page .  There you can sign up to become an Automatic Monthly Partner.  More than anything though, please keep my family and I in your prayers!

getting ready for the Super Bowl…

SuperbowlbannerOne of my favorite outreaches that I am involved in each year is our annual Lee County FCA Super Bowl Party.  My wife and I, invite all our local FCA students over to our house for a fun night of watching the big game, funny commercials, and eating lots of good food.  As soon as time winds down in the second quarter we turn off the tv and settle the students down for some time in The Word.  Each year I make sure to do a full Gospel presentation for students that might not know Christ and also a challenge to those students who have put their faith in Christ.  This year will be no different in that all our students will be challenged to examine themselves and where they are in their walk with Christ, and if they have one at all.  Please be praying for all our students in the next few days leading up to this outreach that God would already begin working in their hearts and that they would make a decision to fully follow him on Sunday.  Also, please be praying for me as I prepare to share a challenge to them from God’s Word.  Yes, we are expecting to have fun on Sunday, but most importantly we are expecting God to do great things!!!