Rio Grande Valley Training Trip
Today marks my third trip this year to work with our Soccer United Chaplains that are spread throughout the United States. I head to McAllen, Texas to spend a couple of days with our newest chaplain, Isidro Piña, to the Rio Grande Valley Toros FC who play in the United Soccer League. Earlier this year, I spent a few days in Nashville and utilized the first-ever match for Nashville SC (a pre-season match) to do work with our new chaplain there. I also spent a day in Chicago with our chaplain for Moody Bible Institute before heading to Charlotte and using the first match of the season to do some work with our chaplain to the Independence.
As Soccer Chaplains United places chaplains, there are a couple of things we look to develop or train:
- Is someone a chaplain? Many times we find a candidate who is or serves as a pastor in a local church setting. Some of our development work then looks at the specific role of a chaplain and some of the approaches and sensitivities and how those might differ from pastoral work in a church.
- Does someone know soccer? While not the most important aspect, knowing and understanding the game is helpful. The players, coaches, staff, and families of those that we are serving live in an environment that has considerable challenges. If someone is not familiar with soccer (or even the sub contexts of professional, etc.) some of our training and development includes looking at soccer in the larger context.
It may be that a chaplain or chaplain candidate does not need as much development in a particular area as above, then the training and coaching time looks more like a sharing of best practices.
Another important reason to travel is to have face to face interactions with chaplains and to see their particular context. From training schedules to stadium surroundings to the size of the metropolitan area and the people, it is very important to understand the different cultural nuances to a particular setting to give the chaplain achievable goals.
Sometimes in sports ministry, people are placed or connected into particular ministry areas with little or no training and development. This creates problems of accountability between the chaplain, Soccer Chaplains United, and the particular team or organization.
I covet your prayers as I work with Isidro for the next few days.