If you have been around church and baseball, I am sure you have heard the joke about, “In the Beginning.” I wanted to take some time to expound on some observations I have made lately from coaching baseball in our community in Rockaway Beach. Our church runs an athletic ministry. We have a baseball field on our campus and batting cages in our worship center. We currently have over 60 kids enrolled in our baseball/softball programs. It has been a joy introducing kids from our rural community to the game of baseball and I have learned a lot from this opportunity over the years! Watching the kids grow in confidence and in their relationship with Christ while having fun playing a sport is one of the coolest parts about our summer ministries.
Coaches are Hard to Find
We have a great staff of coaches at Bridge of Faith and I am thankful to serve alongside them. I watch as kids in rec programs don't have access to coaches like I had as I grew up. We compete in a league at the Branson rec plex. The structure of the is league is that most kids sign up already drafted on a team. A couple teams in the league consist of kids signed up through the rec league. It could be that this structure is best for our area, but I have watched as kids’ rec leagues have moved the direction of signing up as teams and not as individuals. There are some positives to this approach; but, let me share with you what I see happening: I see kids that are talented being drafted by one team. The reason these kids are talented is because they have someone working with them at home and training them in the game. These families that I just described work to get on teams were the kids share the same experience.
So, what you often have is a team of 12 players that have parents who have the capability to coach a team just coaching their kid on a team of 12 other kids. This parent turns their focus away from coaching a team and focuses simply on coaching their kid.
Gone are the days were all the parents with coaching ability signed up to coach and the kids were drafted by all the coaches. This helped to split up the coaches and train more kids in the game of baseball.
Churches Struggle to Find “Coaches”
What does any of this have to do with the church? In my observation, the same thing is taking place within the church. Church members who are fully capable of teaching or leading a "small group" are joining "teams" or other small groups. The most "talented" churches recruit some of the most talented families to meet together weekly. Just as in baseball, the family capable of coaching a team or leading a small group is now focused on just their family. Ministry is often limited to growing the same people deeper in the Word rather than seeking people who are far from Jesus and sharing with them the love of Jesus. What if we could bring back the days of those who are educated in Scripture are spread out to train up those who don't have knowledge of Scripture. What kind of growth would we see?
What happens if baseball coaches and programs continue to go this direction? What happens if trained Bible teachers don't spread out? Keep checking back for more observations between baseball and church
Author: Jonathan McGuire, Lead Pastor of Bridge of Faith Community Church