As Converge pastors, we are contributing an article to an upcoming issue of our community newspaper, the East Orlando Sun. The article is titled "Too Much of a Good Thing for Our Families." It touches on the issue of how time-consuming kids' sports programs in our area have become, particularly their effect upon church attendance and Sabbath rest.
Here is the article in its entirety. I invite your comments.
Participation in sports and being part of a team provides many benefits to children and their families. Lessons about sportsmanship, teamwork and self-discipline abound. Add to this the value of physical activity for personal health and the worth of childhood sports participation increases still more. There is no denying that having a child participate in a sport or on a team can be highly rewarding.
As the spiritual leaders of our community, we the pastors of Converge, a group of East Orlando churches working together for a common witness in our community, ask parents to consider the impact their children’s activity levels have upon their homes and day to day lives. There was a time in American society when Sundays were considered to be sacred. It was a day for worship, rest, and time for being with family. When is the last time your family had a Sunday like that? How often do you find yourself missing worship because your child’s team now has a game on Sunday morning? How often does your teenager not make it to youth group because an additional practice is required? Is this something everyone simply has to accept or could things be different?
What would happen if the parents of East Orlando spoke with a unified voice and said enough is enough? What would happen if parents said to the coach or league organizer that in our family we value our spiritual nurture as much or more as the benefits of being on the team? If we want our children to grow up to be adults who have a proper balance of work and rest and value spiritual depth then we have to model it for them during their youth. For most of us our sporting dreams end at high school, a few continue to college and a small fraction make it to the big leagues. On the other hand being spiritually well grounded serves you well for an entire lifetime. Are we sending our children the message we want them to receive or something all together different?
In times of trial or challenge like many people currently face, we would submit to you that it is faith which sustains and carries a person. Making the all-star team and winning a championship are great accomplishments, but the impact of such achievement usually wanes in time. Eventually trophies collect dust and medals tarnish no matter how nicely you showcase them. However, a well developed faith provides a foundation which stands the test of time.
Playing a sport and being part of a team is a great thing to do. If your children aren’t part of an organized team or group you should consider it. We just want to encourage you not to participate in sports (or anything else for that matter) to the level that it is detrimental to your family and your spiritual well being.
The Pastors of Converge