What do you do when kids and families attend sports events instead of coming to church on Sundays?
“Strike one!” the umpire bellowed as Eric, a 10-year-old Little Leaguer, swung and missed. “Strike two!” after he swung once again. “Strike three-you’re out!” the ump yelled as Eric turned, head down, to walk back to the dugout.
At the same time down the road, Pastor Brad’s frustration mounted. As he walked from room to room doing his weekly check-in with each class, he couldn’t ignore the obvious truth: Kids from every class were missing…
“Down again!” he muttered. He paused between rooms to stare out the window at the green field with a game going in the distance. Inside he seethed, wondering, “What in the world are those parents thinking? Why can’t they understand that church is infinitely more important than some stupid baseball game? And why do all the sports leagues in town schedule their games on Sunday mornings these days? Why can’t they leave that time for us?”
And so it goes. Sunday after Sunday, children’s ministry leaders everywhere bemoan how sports have taken over the weekend-the entire weekend. After all the practices, games, tournaments, and other activities related to sports, there seems to be little time left over for church. And typically mild-mannered kidmin leaders admit they feel frustrated, disappointed-even soured-by the situation.
But should they? Is kids’ involvement in outside activities really an enemy of the church? of children’s ministry? of spiritual formation?
I’m not sure the same answer to those questions applies to every child. But I do know this: A child’s involvement in sports doesn’t have to be a hindrance to his or her spiritual growth and, in fact, can greatly enhance it.
But rather than embracing sports functions as opportunities to engage with and invest in children and families for spiritual formation, we tend to strike out by taking offense to families participating in youth sports. Here’s the play-by-play.