I love sports. I played sports growing up and into high school. I used…key word is”used” to be able to dunk a basketball with two hands. That was before I got old and out of shape.
My parents took me to the games. My dad would play catch and pitch with me each evening after he came home from work.
I pitched in baseball and threw a one-hitter when I was in elementary school.
But when there was a scheduling conflict and there was a choice to play in a game on Sunday morning or go to church, my parents made sure I was in church. For them, as parents, they made the decision that we would always choose God over playing in a baseball game. Thankfully back then, there were rarely any games scheduled on Sunday morning.
It seems that was a different time and age. Today games are often played on Sunday. Especially when you get into playing with traveling teams. Kids can go 6-7 weeks in a row with games on Sunday and sadly, many parents make the decision to bow their knee to the sports gods. Some even have kids playing in 2 sports at the same time.
Here is the dilemma this creates. Kids grow up thinking church is optional. It is not a priority that many parents are committed to. With this happening, don’t be surprised when kids grow up and think that a relationship with God is optional.
Even among families whose children are not playing sports, church has become something to do if there are no other conflicts. Instead of there even being a question about going to church, they put church as a low priority. Something to do when it’s too cold to go to the lake…something to do when you don’t have a baseball or soccer game scheduled…something to do when you aren’t catching up on chores or duties around the house.
In many families, this translates to parents bringing their children to church 1-2 times a month. Looking down the road, if parents continue with this pattern, their children will be Biblically illiterate when they grow up.
It’s time we speak the truth about this to parents. I believe most parents mean well. Some think if they can get their child ahead in sports when they are young, that one day they will be good enough to play D1 football for a major college and get a scholarship. But stats show that a tiny percentage of kids ever achieve this.
Of the few who do go on to play college football, only 1.8% will be drafted by the NFL. Bottom line? If your child is playing high school football, their chance of making it to the NFL are 0.08 percent.
It’s time we challenge parents to make church attendance a top priority. It’s time kids are brought to church more than just once a month or less.
Parents need to step up and make their calendar show their children that serving God is what really matters.
It’s time that we encourage parents to live out this Biblical truth.
“But if serving the
LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom
you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the
Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.
But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15.
Now I know this can be a challenge with families who are already heavily involved in sports. So what should you do? I have found the following strategy works.
Encourage the families who are already bowing the knee to the sports gods. Share the truth with them from a heart of love and compassion. You will see some parents make changes to their sports schedule.
But I have found the best time to challenge parents in this matter is when their children are very young. One strategy is to have a class attached to your Parent and Child Dedication milestone. In this class is a great opportunity to speak into the lives of young parents who will be starting to make some decisions about how much their child will be involved in sports when they get older.
I have a class I created for this that is being used by hundreds of churches across the country. In the class, I spend about 15 minutes sharing with the parents what the dedication means and then 30 minutes talking to them about how to raise their children to love and follow Jesus. I talk about the god of sports and encourage them to put God first when it comes to those decisions. I have seen a lot of fruit from doing this.
The Bible tells us that one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We will give an account of how we raised our children and what our priorities were. Let’s help the families that God puts in our pathway to see how important it is to live out Matthew 6:33.
Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.
Who will the families in your ministry bow the knee to? Sports or Jesus? They each have to make these choices. Let’s simply be a kind, compassionate voice that shares with them that making Jesus the center of their life and time is the best decision they will ever make for their family.