Category Archives: Chaplain Stories

Partners in Ministry

520c165d58ed1_preview-620Here in the USA schools are starting after the summer vacation and fall sports are gearing up as well. Soccer (football), American football, volleyball, golf, tennis, and even some baseball is played in the months of August through November. This time of year is always exciting because it’s full of anticipation and hope for success.

For sports chaplains and character coaches, this season of the year also presents some unique opportunities for effective ministry. Below is a brief, certainly not exhaustive, list of opportunities and ideas for your ministry with teams or individuals in this new season.

Prior to the season’s beginning, visit practices. Obtain a roster and memorize names, uniform numbers, and other details that seem helpful.

At preseason practices, speak with the coaching staff, support staff, and players as you can. Build relationships, they are central to everything we do.

Look for opportunities to assist the coaching staff in any way possible. Serve, serve, serve, and serve some more.

If you are able, attend team meetings and observe the team’s culture, their interaction, the tone of the coaching staff, their expectations, their goals, etc…

Look ahead at the schedule to see where ministry opportunities may be for yourself and for others.

Speak with the head coach about the possibilities of team chapels, Bible studies, team dinners, a study for the coaches, or other opportunities for ministry. Plan and execute them well.

Be sure, if you are serving in a university, to meet with the NCAA compliance officer and make him/her your friend. This person makes a better ally than an enemy. Build a relationship of trust with him or her and it will make your service easier and you won’t have to look over your shoulder constantly worrying about violating a rule.

Consider writing a journal of all your interactions with the team. It will sometimes feel rather mundane, but when a whole season’s story is told, it can be quite insightful for yourself and whoever else you allow to read it. I often do this and give it to the head coach after the season so he can see the season from my perspective.

Pray, seek favor, pray, build relationships, pray, memorize names, pray, watch your attitude, pray, serve selflessly, pray, and love extravagantly.

Have a wonderful season. God bless, Psalm 90:12-17

Submitted By Roger Lipe, Sport Chaplain / Character Coach / Sport Mentor

Southern Illinois FCA


Redeemed Sports – PGA Golfer Disqualifies Himself

Golf ClubsWhat makes this story especially interesting is that Cameron Tringale asked to be DQ’d 6 days after the PGA, and, the move cost him $53,000!

Put yourself in his shoes.  It is the final round of the year’s final major – the PGA Championship.  You are not in contention to win but you want to finish well.  You are on the 11th hole and a little frustrated at not making par.  You go to tap in your bogey putt.  It is only 3 inches.  As you move toward the ball, your not thinking.  You just move to tap it and go right over the top of the ball.  You move again, reflexively, and tap it in.  On to the 12th hole, where you grind out the first of five pars before birding the 18th for a final round 69.  You tie for 33rd and earn $53,000. Not bad but you had hoped for more.  You were hitting the ball so well all week.  The thought even came to your mind that maybe this was your week to win.  Just couldn’t get the putts to fall.

Later that day, as you reflect on the round, something starts gnawing at you.  Did you actually make a stroke and whiff that putt on 11?  You try to remember but it happened so fast.  Because you were acting on reflex, you can’t really remember.  You dismiss it, “No, if I would have whiffed it outright I would remember that.

The Power Of God

Wagon WheelAll of us want to experience the power of God.

Several years ago, I met a church movement leader in Vietnam who reiterated this truth.  He lead an underground church movement there since the war ended in 1975.  He had suffered for his faith, spending much of his life after 1975 in prison.  When I met him, God had used him to raise up thousands of house churches and hundreds of thousands of Vietnam believers.

At dinner during that trip, this great leader opened up about his longing.  “I just want to experience God in my life,” he said as we talked about his journey.

That statement struck a chord in me. Haven’t ever forgotten it.

When I look around, it seems that what that leader said is something we all want. Many people understand this longing. Some prey on it for their own gain while others try to genuinely facilitate the fulfillment.

How do we actually experience God’s power in our life?

Paul gives us a great key in Romans 1:16. There he makes a bold claim by saying the gospel “is the power of God to bring salvation to everyone who believes.”

The power of God = the gospel

Before you stop reading or yawn thinking you know that verse, let’s look very closely at what it says and doesn’t say.

He says the gospel is the power of God. Not the gospel is a part of the power of God. In saying that, Paul is telling us if we want to experience the power we need to go no further than the gospel.

Now some of you may have learned this verse like I did in the context of evangelism. If you did you are thinking, “Sure, the power of God is for saving a unbeliever. That is not for me. I am already a believer.”

Notice the verse. Paul says “to everyone who believes.” This is present tense in the English and the Greek. It is ongoing. Paul isn’t saying the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believed, past tense. Paul is not just talking about unbelievers. He is talking about unbelievers and believers.

We experience the power of God in our lives as we presently believe in the gospel.

This is an amazing statement. It shows us how to experience the power of God right now, right at this moment, in our lives. It shows us how to experience the power of God not only just now but throughout our lives.

Tim Keller reiterates this idea when he says, “The gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.”

If you meditate on this idea of a hub and a wheel, one of things that becomes clear is that the hub is where the power of the rider gets transferred to the wheel, which then moves the bicycle. For God, the hub through which his power gets transferred into our lives is THE GOSPEL!

But what does this power produce in us? Paul says, “to bring salvation.” Not just salvation in the past but salvation in the present. Salvation in all the ways you and I need it today.

We experience the power of God for that salvation by believing THE GOSPEL!

So my friend, you who long to experience the power of God, look no further than THE GOSPEL! It is the power of God to everyone who believes.

Redeemed Sports – Honesty Moves Coach To Return State Trophy

RunningImagine this scenario.  Your team wins a state title, something you have been striving for all year.  With the victory comes great celebration, joy, satisfaction, honor.  However, something is wrong.  Later, in reviewing the results, you realize there was a error in the calculations.  It wasn’t your error but the error of those responsible to tally the results.  Yet, the mistake means you actually finished third not first.

What would you do?

This is not so fictional fantasy but an actually event for North Attleboro High School and their track coach, Derek Herber.  To see how the coach responded and why, take a minute and watch the following video.

To find out more of the story, go here

The line that stood out to me from the video – “Ultimately, we need to make sure we maintain the integrity of the sport and North Attleton Athletics.

God at Work at Joe Gibbs Racing

SOGWe like to say at The Sports Outreach Group that we are one ministry with two passions.  Our passion at CSO is to work with local churches to help them utilize the tool of sports to reach and redeem people and sports.  Churches that do this have what we call Gospel-centered Sports Ministries.

At The Sports Outreach Group, our other passion is sports chaplaincy.  The piece of the Sports Outreach Group that leads us in that passion is the Sports Chaplain Network (SCN), headed by Ken Cross.

In the following video, Bob Dyar, President of The Sports Outreach Group and Lead Chaplain at Joe Gibbs Racing, outlines the  chaplain ministry at Joe Gibbs Racing.  In addition, several of the employees of Joe Gibbs Racing talk about the impact of this ministry in their lives.

This story is another example of the incredible tool of sports – when they are placed in the hand of God.  He is using the sport of racing to connect with men and women at Joe Gibbs Racing in a moving way.  To read more about this movement, click here.

Let me ask you – What might it look like for you to place your sports into God’s hands?  How might he use your in and through those sports to reach and redeem people?  How might he use those sports to reveal your own heart and deepen your walk with him?

Sports In Heaven?

CloudsI imagine two responses to this question – “What a silly question!” or “Of course not!” – both of which quickly dismiss the question.

I would ask you to resist that tendency to dismiss the question and go a little deeper. What lies within the question is just how biblical your view of heaven and of sports really is which defines your hope for heaven and your path to redeemed sports.

Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, recently addressed this question in a Desiring God podcast where he boldly declares -

I believe there is every reason to believe there would be (sports in heaven).

To which many object, “How can that be? After all, there can’t be any losers in heaven.”

Alcorn responds, “Why not?” and then gives a personal example. He coaches tennis and talks about how he would celebrate when one of his students developed to the point that that student could beat him. He points to this as an example of having vested interest in another person’s growth and a taste of what it will be like in heavenly competition.

Alcorn then asks the poignant and very important question – “Where did sports come from?” and answers quickly, “Clearly, from God. Satan did not come up with the idea of sports!

You may not be so easily convinced or those you interact with so easily convinced. (There are many in the world who think differently on this.) For more on this subject, let me point you to two resources that give a fuller defense for the origin of sports and their presense in heaven:

Blog – “Was there competition in the Garden?”

Video – For the Love of the Game…a compelling call for the redemption of sports

The origin of sports is of immense importance as we think about the redemption of those same sports and further on to whether they are included in the consummation.

Heaven? I can’t wait to play golf there!!!

Submitted By Ken Cross Executive Director, Sports Chaplains Network

Coach Suspends Entire Team

Back in September, a high school football coach did something quite unusual.  Matt Labrum and his coaching staff at Union High School actually suspended 41 of the varsity and junior varsity players for bad behavior ranging from skipping classes to bullying (this was all of the players on the team that were sophomores to seniors).

“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” said Labrum, an alumnus of the program he’s coached for the past two years.  “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”

So the coach and his staff gathered the team together after Friday night’s loss to Judge Memorial Catholic High School and told them he was concerned about some of the players’ actions and behavior off the field. He then instructed them all to turn in their jerseys and their equipment. There would be no football until they earned the privilege to play.

The coaches told them there would be a 7 a.m. meeting the next day where they would have an opportunity to re-earn a spot on the team. (For more on the story click here.)

In the letter the coaches passed out on Friday, they outlined the activities for the following week that would give them a chance to get back on the team, which included performing service projects instead of practice and attending a class on character and writing a report about it.   32 of the 41 did the required activities and got their jerseys back.

The support for the coaches’ efforts has been overwhelmingly positive.  I applaud them as well.

I especially like their recognition that football is about something greater than winning.

“We looked at it as a chance to say, ‘Hey, we need to focus on some other things that are more important than winning a football game,” Labrum said.

The list of those other important things was quite impressive – humbleness, thankfulness, humility, respect, courage and honor.  Building these qualities into young men is a different kind of winning, a greater, more lasting winning.

Sports are a great laboratory for building character.  The question is what kind of character.

If more coaches adopted this coach’s attitude about winning, we would see a reversal of the trend in the last 30 years pointed to by researches such as Sharon Stoll of the University of Idaho for the direct relationship between the degradation of the moral character of an athlete and the length of time they play a sport.

This staff’s efforts show we can turn the tide.  We can be involved in fixing this brokenness in sports.

Matt Labrum – may your tribe increase!


Coach Suspends Entire Team

Fired TeamBack in September, a high school football coach did something quite unusual.  Matt Labrum and his coaching staff at Union High School actually suspended 41 of the varsity and junior varsity players for bad behavior ranging from skipping classes to bullying (this was all of the players on the team that were sophomores to seniors).

“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,

Invitation to Super Bowl Breakfast

By George McGovern, Chaplain, NY Giants & NY Yankees

With the Super Bowl coming to NYC, I’m involved with the planning of the AIA Super Bowl Breakfast. This is an NFL-sanctioned event scheduled for Friday, January 31 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.

This outreach, in its 27th year, features the presentation of the Bart Starr Award to a current NFL player, voted on by his peers, for outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. Bart Starr, who hasn’t missed a SB Breakfast in 27 years, will again be at the event to personally present the award. Past winners include Jason Witten, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson and Mike Singletary.

Please join me along with Bart Starr, Justin Tuck, Brent Jones and other NFL greats for an inspiring morning. Eric Metaxas, NY Times Best Selling Author of Bonhoeffer and George Martin, NY Giants 1975-1988 and member of Giants Ring of Honor, will co-emcee.

The program will highlight the character and faith that exist among many of the NFL coaches and players. It is not designed to be a “prayer breakfast”. Rather, it’s designed for those who are intrigued by the idea of a faith component to life. The various elements of the outreach will help attendees to process that idea for themselves. If you have a friend or relative at this place in his life, the Super Bowl Breakfast would be a superb event to assist in the journey.

Tables are assigned on a first come, first serve basis!
Follow this link to view your invitation as well as program details. I hope to see you there!