A fellow named James Emery White wrote the following in a recent article:
I am about to enter into the most volatile subject imaginable. No, not abortion or same-sex marriage, not even immigration reform or gun control. Those are tame. I want to talk about parents, sports and the church.
How many of you already felt your defenses go up, blood pressure rise, and claws and fangs extend? I’m kind of dumb, so I’m going to keep writing. But I am smart enough to say a few things before I go any further:
I believe that on the eighth day, God created ESPN.
I played organized sports from grade school all the way through to college.
All four of my children were involved in sports during their formative years, from basketball to football, swim team to gymnastics. I even coached many years of basketball when my boys were on teams with the YMCA and AAU.
I believe sports are a good and healthy investment for parents to make, even when it involves sacrifice to have your children involved.
Finally, I don’t reduce following Christ to attending church.
Whew! There now – have I covered all my bases?
So here’s the inevitable “but” you sense is coming… According to a new study published in the Review of Religious Research… many pastors place the most blame on children’s sports activities, since both practices and competitions are increasingly “scheduled on Sunday mornings at the very time when many churches traditionally have provided religious education.”
I’ve seen the same thing. I see parents letting almost every other extracurricular activity in their child’s life take precedent over investments designed to make a spiritual impression. Meaning soccer, or baseball, or swim team gets first dibs on the calendar.
I’m talking parent to parent, dad to dad, pastor to people. Think about what you’re saying. In fact, say it out loud, in front of a mirror. Listen to it. “I will do spiritual things for my child’s sake until sports conflict, then sports win.” Do you mean it? Really? Is that how you want to prioritize things?
So far Mr. White’s comments. Here at St. Paul’s, we do have Monday evening services, June through August. That’s fine. But Mr. White’s point, from one father to another, ought not be lost on fathers who want to reflect their heavenly Father to their kids. St. Paul said it too: “Ye fathers, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Here’s a life lesson. Not just in sports, but in a hundred other ways, our children will face hard and cross-bearing choices between their relationship with their Savior or other priorities. What matters most to fathers will matter most to their children. What will our children remember most about their fathers?