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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my fantasy crashed into reality…

ffootballIt was a rough weekend for me in the world of fantasy football.  Last weekend, I basked in the glory of winning both of my first ever fantasy football games.  That glory came to a crashing halt this weekend.   In one league, my dreams died with the the walking wounded receiving corp of New England Patriots.  A good 20 to 40 fantasy points were in street clothes, thus leaving me with what looks to be a big loss for Week 2.  In my church fantasy league,  I had several players who just didn’t play well, and unfortunatley some lower ranked players on the other team played out of their minds.  So, here I sit, hoping I will do better with my lineups and possibly pick up a few good players off the waiver wires before next week.  Who knew a fantasy world would be so emotionally draining???

back to coaching…

Bowling high qualityYesterday, I returned to the world of coaching.  This year I am not going to be coaching middle school basketball, but am back to being an assistant coach on our high school bowling team.  I am really thankful for the opportunity be working with the students again, not because I have that much bowling knowledge to impart, we all know that’s not the case.  However, it does give me another opportunity to maybe help mentor some of our students, build relationships, and be able to share the love of Christ with them.  Our bowling team is made up of middle school through high school students from all walks of life that are going through all different issues and circumstances in life.  Hopefully, I can help them with their bowling, but more than anything I feel God has me there for bigger purpose.  With our bowling team using our Rec Center ministry for their home lanes and this coaching opportunity again this year I know God has big plans.  Please pray for our students and all the issues they are facing.  Pray that God will use me to share the love of Christ with our students and to have a strong testimony to them.  Pray that LCHS Bowling will be something that truly glorifies God!

one thing at a time…

Busy OctopusWhen I was growing up, my mom and dad had a very simple rule when it came to my sister and I participating in extracurricular sports and teams.  That rule was simply One activity at a time.  Sometimes this was difficult to accept as I had to make choices like playing basketball or continuing to participate on the school academic team.  As much as I loved basketball, I knew I was more gifted in academics and more likely to get scholarship aid, so I chose that.  God was great and still worked out a way for me to play basketball in church league basketball which was only on hour a week.  Through church basketball league participation God used it to start a love of sports ministry within me which led me into full time ministry, but that’s a story for another day of blogging.

Throughout our school years my sister and I had opportunities to choose from many activities.  Quite often, it didn’t seem fair that we had the one thing at a time rule as we watched friends running around involved in everything.  I am even pretty sure that it led to some arguments with our parents.  Yet, now looking back through my 32 year old eyes I am thankful for the one thing at a time rule.

I can clearly see where having me focus on one activity at a time allowed me to be focused and excel (to the best of my abilities) in that one thing.  I can see as I hinted above where it freed me up to allow God to direct my future and develop a passion in me for ministry.  As I look at the kids that I work with today, so many of them are worn out and don’t know if they are coming or going.  Trying to get a student to commit to something is like grasping at the wind, it’s next to impossible because they have too much already going on.  Often they would like to commit to something, and may even verbally do so, but then they can’t follow through.  All too often the busyness keeps them from doing their best in any activity or sport they are in.

The most sad thing about the busyness that our students find themselves in is that the one thing that seems to get the least of their best is often their relationship with Christ.   They find they don’t have time for church, youth groups, Christian groups like FCA, and still worse personal quiet time in the Word and prayer.  Already this school year, I am finding myself encouraging students to be involved in all these aspects of their walk with Christ and hearing about how this club, sport, class, or activity is going to keep them from doing so.

I realize that in the competitive world of scholarships and high college bills our students and parents feel tremendous pressure to pursue anything and everything that can relieve this strain.  I want to encourage parents though to consider instituting the one thing at a time rule in your household.  This will allow your student to have the freedom to do their best and excel.  It also will relieve some of the stress and pressure our students face, that let’s be honest, they have enough of waiting for them in adulthood and they don’t need to face it now.  Finally, and most importantly, it allows them to have more freedom to pursue their relationship with Christ.  To grow deeper through personal and corporate Bible studies, actively participate in church, youth groups, and other Christian outreaches.  To pursue helping others and practicing servanthood towards their fellow man, without the nagging thought of all the others stuff that is overwhelming them currently.

Some, may not agree with me, and as a teenager I would not have agreed with me.  But, as I sit here typing this post out right now, I can without a doubt say that I am so very thankful for the William and Dawn Owens One Thing At A Time Rule!

FCA Leadership Camp Update – Day 2

chalk artist speaking to our students at Leadership Camp...

chalk artist speaking to our students at Leadership Camp…

Friday was another fun and exciting day here at the 2013 FCA Leadership Camp.  The students were up bright and early for warm ups with calisthenics, a good jog, and devotional time.  After a good breakfast we had a morning chapel time where we sang praise songs, which Maeven and Judah really enjoyed.  Our morning speaker talked with the students about the importance of keeping their motor up and being relentless in their pursuit of Christ.

After the morning chapel service the students were divided up into their huddles.  Some went to play games for awhile while others had small group Bible study time with their huddles.  During this same time all of us coaches, teachers and sponsors had a huddle of our own where we talked about what we had been learning from the speakers and also what God is doing in our lives and our huddles.  It was a blessing the spend some time fellowshipping with so many others who are serving Christ in our school’s with FCA.

During the afternoon Friday, our students had more games and also had a lot of free time.  The majority of us all enjoyed the camp pool for awhile.  Maeven especially like all the pool noodles that she could play with!

After supper tonight we were treated with a special guest who did a chalk art ministry.  He talked with the students about the importance of being MAD leaders (Make A Difference).  He challenged them to be leaders who use their talents and gifts to make a difference for Christ.  He then did an amazing presentation where he drew a beautiful scenic view with chalk on a black bed sheet.  It was truly amazing to watch someone so gifted using their talents for Christ.

Leadership Camp is taking a toll on Judah!

Leadership Camp is taking a toll on Judah!

The evening closed with an evening chapel service where the music and speaker encouraged the students to keep being “Relentless.”  A girls volleyball player from Marshall University also shared her testimony with the students.

I’d like to ask you to be praying hard for our students today.  This afternoon they will be doing door to door evangelism in the community around the university.  Pray that they will have calm nerves, boldness, and wisdom as they share the love of Christ with complete strangers.  Thank you so much for your prayers!

pray for sunshine…

Golf scrambleTomorrow we will be having our second attempt at our annual Golf Scramble fundraiser for the Lee County Rec Center.  Currently meteorologist are saying some rain on Friday, but sunny for our scramble tomorrow.  Please join me in praying that this would be the case.  We really want a nice pretty day that the golfers will want to come out for.   Pray also that we have good attendance.  With switching our date you never know how that will affect turn out.  So please please pray for this event as it does so much to help fund various projects and need at the Rec Center.  Lastly, from noon until 2 pm we will be grilling up delicious hot dogs, polish sausages, and hamburgers for anyone who would like to join us.  So feel free to come get your lunch and support the Lee County Rec Center!

golf scramble rescheduled….

Golf scrambleDue to  all the rain that we have been putting up with here in Beattyville, we have postponed our Golf scramble until June 8, 2013.  I will keep you posted on updates until then.  The weather man is giving rain until 1pm until 1pm on Saturday, so we are going to wait until June in hopes of a better day for golf and fundraising!   Please pray for good weather on June 8 and we hope to see you then!