Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sports and the Pastorate

Now that I will be a pastor under appointment, one of the items on my to-do list is to acquire a copy of Football for Dummies so that I may learn more about this sport. The connection? Well, a pastor should be conversant in the popular culture of his/her congregation, and in almost anywhere in the U.S., that means sports. For my area of Florida, that means college football, pro football, college basketball, and pro basketball, in that order. Other areas may vary, particularly due to the placement of professional franchises, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Miami Dolphins, and the Florida Marlins.

I have no intrinsic interest in watching sports. Left to my own devices, I would never watch a sporting event on TV or in person. But as a pastor, that is a luxury that I no longer have. Attendance of the local high school football games in my small town is now mandatory if I want to be engaged in the community. And checking out scores and games information on will now be a part of my daily routine.

It's part of the job. Now as I said, I don't like to watch sports. At MethoBlogCon one night, I found myself in the backseat of Theresa Coleman's ginormous SUV and when I mentioned this disinterest to the assembled group, Abi Carlisle-Wilke shot me a look like I had just confessed to some ghastly perversion (seriously). Abi, of course, comes from northern Alabama, where half of all baby boys are named after legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant -- and about a third of all baby girls. But I persisted and explained my business idea.

There is a hypothetical product that I would greatly value: a database that tied a church's membership directory to declared sports affiliations and current news about those teams. I could check it daily and see, for example, that my SPRC Chair's beloved Pittsburgh Penguins had gotten smashed by the New Jersey Devils, including a minute's worth of video clips from critical moments of the game. So I could whip out a Blackberry shortly before a meeting began say "Hey, Jack, it's a pity about the Penguins. But did you see that shot that Ryan Whitney got from behind the red line in the third quarter!" Now that's credibility. Every morning, I would be up-to-date on the sports news that my congregation considers critical, and in a very short period of time so that I can devote more of myself to other work, like writing sermons, home visitations, and playing on my PlayStation.

What do you think of my proposed invention?


David said...

Sign me up!
It sounds like it could be very helpful for the CEO Boardroom as well.

"Hey Bob, sorry about the doping scandal and Landis"

"Gerry, what a number Man U pulled on Chelsea. That about seals the Table?"

"Jim, the Ashes win for Australia last night was one of the best. The wicket Thoroughgood had was incredible"

"Jamie, great job on the Winslow presentation. And did you see the Sparks resigned Lisa Leslie"

Yes...this is definitely a winner...oh wait...fusing Facebook or MySpace and ESPN and FOXsports...genius, pure genius


John Meunier said...

Of course, you are going to face an even deeper problem. Which sports do you make reference to in your sermons.

There is a whole class at seminary about sports metaphors in preaching, I assume.

Are you preaching to the baseball crowd? (Older, wealthier, lots of free time and not in a hurry.)

The football crowd (safest bet but then there is college or pro)

The Ultimate Fighting crowd (popular among those coveted young males and as close to the reinvention of the gladitorial ring as we've got)

NASCAR (you can preach the doctrine of love you enemies when Jeff Gordon breaks Dale Earnhardt's all time wins mark)

Basketball (the state religion of my homestate - and the line from the classic basketball movie Hoosiers the delves into deep theological questions - do you beleive in man-to-man or zone defense?)

The possibilities and the challenges are endless.

Congratulations on the appointment, the child, and keeping the zombies menace down.

the reverend mommy said...

Actually it's not a bad idea.
Two comments:
It's a SUV, I'll admit, but it's the MommyMobile.
And you need to learn about huntin' too. And the best ways to cook Bambi.

Sports. Ugh. Do I have to?

(word verification is exlucy. Heh)

Le Juste Milieu said...

John -

I talk about golf from time-to-time in my sermons. I won't pretend I know a thing about fishing or hunting. Be yourself.

- Greg (formerly Eight Iron; now blogging at:

Keith Taylor said...

John Meunier wrote:

Of course, you are going to face an even deeper problem. Which sports do you make reference to in your sermons.

In Florida, a safe bet is that anytime you want to use a sports metaphor in a sermon, if you are talking about the damnable, nasty, and eternal stench of HELL, refer to the either (a) the Alabama Crimson Tide or (b) University of Georgia.

Tom Jackson said...

Or if 'Bama wins, and you'd like to rub it in with impunity, have them open their hymnals to #365, a catchy little tune called "Grace Greater Than Our Sin," which uses "crimson tide" to refer to the blood of Christ.

John Meunier said...

Or if 'Bama wins, and you'd like to rub it in with impunity, have them open their hymnals to #365, a catchy little tune called "Grace Greater Than Our Sin," which uses "crimson tide" to refer to the blood of Christ.

I love this!

This is what we need now. A list of hymns crossed referenced with sports references.

Anonymous said...


This (in my most humble opinion) has been the most disturbing post that you have written. Up to this point, your site has been a must read for me. You seemed to have it all together, and now this declaration about sports! Several things are in order:

Baptism by orange Gatorade.

Familiarize yourself with the gospel of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNradio, and At the risk of alienating others FOXSports and their assorted enterprises are mere imitators.

Partake in the sacrement of a mustard lathered hotdog and a beer (Some denominations offer Coke, tea, or lemonade)in a stadium or neighbors house.

Praise is a must: 40 "you're da man"! chants ought to cover it.

Repentence applies only if you are a Chicago Cubs fan.

During the season don't forget the ritual of face painting and going shirtless!


Anonymous said...


A couple of other thoughts (as the family chased me off of the computer a few hours ago):

Numbers for your robes and eye black.
A whistle instead of a microphone.
Refer to ushers as "sideline reporters".
Above all else, do not shimmy and shake and spike the bible after a stirring sermon. Act like you preached before!

As for your proposed invention: patent it!


Keith McIlwain said...