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I didn't learn much in seminary about the things that really matter in ministry—things like the fast-pitch softball matchup between my church and the Bible church down the highway. This ongoing rivalry determined our church's self-image for the next year. If we won, we were ready to win the world for Christ. If we lost, I preached a long series on suffering, and we considered a name change to Mudville Church of the Closed Door.

I have watched with fascination the dramatic impact of athletics on the life of a church. Surely in the area of church sports, God has set before us a blessing and a curse.


Competition can bring out the best in people, but my experience is it far more often brings out the worst. Selfishness, bad temper, cutthroat tactics, lying ("I did not foul him!"), cheating, pride, and disunity are just a few of the temptations. There are five "deadly sins" that are a bane to the church and pastor who have to endure them.

A bad reputation. We ...

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