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Kicking around ideas on church vs. sports

The Christian Chronicle asked readers, “Are youth sports hurting church attendance, and does this concern you?”

It is a parent’s responsibility to set the example for their children. We are great justifiers when it comes to prioritizing. I can’t see Jesus missing an opportunity to enter the temple — to play sports. Still, it is not my place to condemn or judge what another parent decides is acceptable for their children. Only God knows the heart.
Janice Tharp Garrison | Skiatook, Okla.

I regularly see teens and preteens running to change into their soccer clothes in the restroom during the Sunday morning assembly and rushing out with their parents to get to a game before the morning service ends. Other times, various families are missing because they were taking their kids to soccer games or tournaments.

Bonnie Miller | Vancouver, Wash.

My children don’t really start sports until next year, but I grew up with and continue to see many folks missing worship and Bible study for sports.
How can regularly missing church events for sports events not communicate to children that sports are of greater value?

Josh Watson | Edmond, Okla.

What’s the big deal about kids missing irrelevant Bible classes and boring worship assemblies that they and their parents are not getting anything out of anyway? Isn’t this another example of measuring success by how many people show up?

Mark Hodges | Long Beach, Miss.

I don’t think sports is the problem. I think a lack of dedication/commitment to the church is the problem. We show what our priorities are by our attendance.

Johnathan Dobbs | Aztec, N.M.

Sports and other activities can be a great way to be the light of Christ, but many Christians seem to just approach it as general family time or extreme competition time. Church attendance isn’t the biggest deal to me personally, but if people are already pretty unfocused spiritually, regularly missing the assembly sure doesn’t help.

Joshua Tucker | Richland, Wash..
I’ve run into plenty of members who weren’t at the morning service whom I see later on in the day at a restaurant or at the store, with their children dressed in soccer outfits. Out here I think soccer is the biggest Sunday offender, but I’ve also seen it with track and field, golf and cross country.

Josh Jeffrey | Hillsboro, Ore.

  • Feedback
    Mark Hodges said it very well, “What’s the big deal about kids missing irrelevant Bible classes and boring worship assemblies…” There is so much more to ‘community’ than Sunday morning (or Sunday night or Wednesday night) but often this is what we equate as “church”.
    Tedd Kidd
    Nashville, TN
    July, 12 2013

    Attendance is only one thing. Producing the “fruit of the spirit” is the main thing.
    Gordon McElvany
    Grace Fellowship
    Aransas Pass, Texas
    July, 10 2013

    Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. It’s O.K. to like sports, but it is unacceptable for a Christian to put a higher priority on them (or anything else) than they put on God. Are you investing as much of your time, energy, money, and loyalty to God as you are to whatever sports you follow and/or participate in? That is a question that is between you and Him. As for me and my house, we don’t miss services to play in youth sports (or go to practices, or watch games).
    Scott Biddle
    Pangburn Church of Christ
    Searcy, Arkansas
    July, 10 2013

    We have raised four boys. Very healthy doing baseball and other sports. I simply said to their Coach and I quote, “If you want my son to remain on your team, he is ours on Sunday. We attend church as a family and this is our day to serve the Lord.” In all respect we had no problem. They are now practicing the same rule with their children who are happy and content, and get great exercise from these activities. They have no time for drugs or fast living.
    Gerri Means
    Tri Valley – Livermore, CA
    Fremont, CA
    July, 10 2013

    I think the motivator for attendance needs to be loving Jesus and loving the people he loves (inside and outside his fold). We need a humble awareness that our participation matters. We meet in order to, among other things, “consider one another” and promote love and good works. We need preaching/teaching that help us direct our hearts upward in trusting love and outward in genuine, intentional (over-used but good notion)prayer-bathed fellowship. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people just wanted to be with the Lord’s family more than at conflicting events? Can it be? Anyway that’s my prayer—i doubt guilt-tripped attendance will help anyone. but I think re-focused hearts can!
    Church of Christ
    LA, CA
    July, 10 2013

    Looks like a lot of hating on sports. Usually hating comes from those who do not like something. The things they like are okay, but anything they don’t like is “of the devil.” God is always number one. There are ways to make that true and still participate in sports. It takes work, but it can be done.
    Casey Long
    Circle Church of Christ
    Corvallis, Oregon
    July, 10 2013

    About three times a week, I call a state-wide sports show in Arkansas, Drive Time Sports. I am Johnny From El Paso. Sports is such an underrated mission field because so many life lessons from church and sports can mesh. A deacon at a church we both used to attend told me you could learn more about people in five minutes playing sports with them than in all the time you see them in worship. I don’t think children’s baseball, soccer or sports games should be scheduled on Sunday mornings. More parents should protest this. I also am frustrated when see “Christians” act hostile at sporting events or cheat to win athletic events. Playing basketball on a campus ministry team in college showed me how unchristianlike some people act.
    Johnny Mullens
    Church of Christ
    El Paso, Arkansas
    United States
    July, 10 2013

    Suggestion: Put in a short service at 7:00 or 7:30 when the sports season is occurring. There is no rule that the only service on Sunday morning must take place at a certain time.
    John Smith
    Washington, DC
    July, 5 2013

Filed under: Staff Reports Views

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