Monday, May 22, 2006

sports on the Northside

I could hardly believe what I was hearing this week when our church sports co-ordinator, Ryan Douglas, gave his report on the state of sports to our Church Council. My Associate, Terry Janzen, and I are always kidding each other about our view of sports. I, who has never played a serious game of anything in my life, tend to think of sports in North America as a profound waste of time and money. Besides the fact that the love of sports (like the love of money) has become a dangerous form of idolatry, I've seen far too many families choose soccer on Sunday morning over church. Years later, when they've lost their kids from the church, they realize the mistake in priorities they've made. Add to that, the middle-age anguish which seems to attend the bone fractures of youthful competition, the addiction to television games, the countless hours that golf takes husbands away from wives, and the ridiculous salaries that professionals make (compared to teachers for example), I actually find myself getting angry at the sports obsession.

Nevertheless, I was delighted with Ryan's report. There are about 300 guys and gals involved in at least 10 different types of sports in our church. We have several softball teams; soccer is huge (even Susan and I were there cheering on our #1 team as they took us into the BC Lower Mainland championships these last few years), ping pong, pickleball and volleyball attract dozens of participants, scuba diving is led by our Pastor Gord. We don't talk a lot about our boxing club, but we have seen dozens of young men, who might not even be noticed, move into some very tight friendships.

The annual golf tournaments, and superhero competitions are big attractions for not only the players but also scores of fans. I have no idea why anyone would wake up in the middle of the night to play hockey, but dozens of guys see it as fun.

Some of the reasons we have so many sports are that we have a lot of fun (I think church should be a fun place to hang out), it's a great place to invite unchurched friends and introduce them to Christian friends, many of our sports are used as fund raisers to give to missions or help the poor, sports are a healthy place to get exercise, learn teamwork and submission to leadership. As long as our love of sports has higher values, I'm all for it. Again it's like money; it can be a wonderful gift from God, as long as our priorities stay right.

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