One of the Christian responses to these challenges and pressures for individuals within the sporting environment is sports chaplaincy. Sports Chaplaincy is defined as…
The provision of pastoral and spiritual care, by permission for those of all faith and none, for the well being of all of those who are involved in sport.”
Increasingly the world of sport is recognizing that they need to pay attention to the whole person of the athlete, and not only just the body, but also the mind and soul of the sports person. For this reason we are seeing the rapid growth of sports chaplaincy across the globe, and its increasing credibility in professional, semi-professional and amateur sport.
“The vision of sports chaplaincy is that there would be chaplains in every sport, in every country, from professional through to the amateur levels. This is not a self appointed position, but is at the invitation of key individual within sport – e.g. coach, manager, administrator, owner or player. chaplaincy is not there purely for the athlete/player but for everyone operating in the sport – backroom staff, administrators, competitors, even groundskeepers. The chaplains desire is to show the compassionate love of Christ to all of the above to those of all faith and none. This is the scope of their ministry.
In the midst of the pressures, trials and triumphs of an athletes life a chaplain can be a resource like few others. A chaplain is NOT a fan, NOT a coach, NOT a fellow athlete, NOT a sports psychologist. Because they only have the one role, that of chaplain, they are able to be completely independent concentrating on the person not the performance.
Sharing the love of Jesus is a delicate balance, that requires the wisdom of God. All chaplains proceed in prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Each country culture and sport will have its own issues and climate. Someone who is too aggressive will not be allowed to operate within sport and will close doors and opportunities for others. One bad experience can multiply throughout the city, the league even the whole sport. On the other hand we will always need to be ready to present the hope within us. For this reason chaplains are trained to be ‘pastorally proactive and spiritually reactive’