Sports Ministry at Moody Bible Institute

Dec 01, 2017

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to the sports ministry major class at my alma mater Moody Bible Institute on the topic of sports chaplaincy. Students had recently read Anthony Maranise’s article, Beyond praying for players: an exploration of the responsibilities and practices of sports chaplains from the recent Sports Chaplaincy: Trends, Issues, and Debates. That article coupled with my own, Foundations of Pastoral Care: Recovering the Spirit of Chaplaincy in Sport became the springboard for our conversation.

One of the most prevalent questions that recurs amongst those looking into sports chaplaincy, is how does one serve someone of a different faith tradition? For many evangelical Christians that are studying and preparing to go into ministry, one of the struggles that takes considerable wrestling is how to serve people that are dissimilar from their own faith tradition, or even those who differ with a slightly different theological framework?

For myself, the education and training in chaplaincy that I received in seminary was especially helpful in presenting me with a safe environment to wrestle through those very questions.

At length, I discussed some of the other issues that face sports chaplains — the double edge of either fundraising support or having an avocational/bi-vocational position, the lack of a governing body for the purposes of accreditation, the variety of training and educational resources aimed toward sports chaplaincy.

I also shared about the difference between those in “sports ministry” and those serving as chaplains and how the pastoral office and the foundational elements of pastoral care inform the chaplaincy aspect of ministry differently than those who are more appropriately serving as sports ministry people. One of the biggest differences being in the approach whereby a sports ministry person might be more aggressive with evangelism and focused on discipleship and a chaplain has more of a pastoral  care approach applied to all within an organization or institution.

Disappointingly, though, Moody is shuttering it’s sports ministry major course of study. Current students are grandfathered in, but no further enrollees will be accepted as the school is refining it’s focus and emphasis and is making other cuts.

It will remain to be seen where future chaplains in sport may be more fully developed.

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