While You Are Sleeping (Probably)

Aug 14, 2022

If you’re in the Mountain or Pacific timezone, than it’s likely that next Sunday you will be sleeping when I am presenting at the 3rd Global Congress on Christianity and Sport. At least from the initial schedule of speakers, the session time slot for my presentation will be 11:30 am Cambridge time (4:30 am for my wife and children), Sunday, August 21. My presentation? The Sports Chaplain as Captive: Issues of Pay and the Differences Between Preaching and Peddling the Gospel. What can I say, I like long titles…

It’s with some mixed feelings, if I am honest, that I look forward to next week’s session. It’s at the end of the congress (will people stick around or will they have been headed out to catch the flight home?) so that may mean a smaller group in the room. Part of my emotion also has to do with my daughter getting ready to leave for college and only having a few days remaining by the time I get back home before we pack the car and try to set her up for her next chapter in her life’s adventure.

But regardless of the number of people in the room, I think what excites me has been the work of preparing for this presentation and the study in the Bible to get to the point where I am landing. Sometimes in this moments you submit an abstract or a thought about where you are going to end up going — there’s a process of development, I’ve learned. And even after a presentation, you can often get people coming up and helping add meaning and value to the conversation because they heard or say or interpreted or experienced something different than you have — so you have to hold all of these things loosely and still handle the text (especially Scripture) really well.

I share my abstract with you here:

Tension exists for chaplains in sport — the majority are unpaid, volunteers (Paget & McCormack, 2006). This characteristic necessitates chaplains have other meaningful vocational work or fundraise support, both activities detracting from the chaplain’s work. Should sports chaplains be paid? Or, is there a conflict of interest in chaplains leveraging privileged positions or exciting experiences to earn an income or wage? 

The apostle Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6, defends his work and ministry, self-identifying as a “captive” led by Christ and contrasting his work with “many” others who “peddle the word of God for profit.” Paul, previously (I Cor. 9), defends the right of pay for those who “preach the Gospel.” So, then, is there a balance to be struck? If so, what is that balance?

This presentation will reflect theologically on the Corinthian texts, Paul’s meanings and example — offering practical ramifications and considerations for sports chaplains.

I am keenly aware that this issue is a bit “niche” if you will — but it’s the space where I am working and developing (sports chaplaincy). Probably some of what I am learning and studying has applications and ramifications outside of such a narrow window, but I have been amazed at some of what I have been learning and growing in as I go.

Special thanks goes to Dave Schoeman for his help in getting to Cambridge. I’ve come to be blessed by Dave and his wife, Barbie, as they have encouraged me and pushed me to reflect well on this subject and what it might mean for chaplains in sport.

I look forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones in a week’s time, even though you will probably be sleeping. 😉

Sincerely from the Rev,

Rev Brad Kenney

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