How to Reach the Male Student Athlete

By Clay Elliott • Fellowship of Christian Athletes • San Jose, California

“We must go on to other towns as well…” Mark 1:38

Every year I begin my chaplain duties for the San Jose State Baseball team with the same basic talk that goes something like this—“Hey guys, God is creative and smart. He designed all of us with three major parts—the physical (body), the intellectual (mind) and the spiritual (soul). You work hard on the first two parts, but what about the third? Leaving out this third part sells you short in reaching your God-intended potential. And God, your creative Designer, never wants that to happen. He wants you to achieve excellence, even perfection.” These guys want to be better, so they listen. I want them to be perfect, so I go and teach them.

So, how do you become a chaplain? Volunteer. Most coaches will willingly allow you to do this as long as you don’t interfere. But don’t show up only at “talk” time—be sure to go to practices, attend games and take them out to lunch when you can. The idea then is to go to them and become a part of the team.

But what if you don’t want to be a chaplain? Go and try these:

  • Coaching—do the same things as stated above.
  • Leading—start an FCA club (huddle) on a campus and help lead it. See www.fca.org to get the details.
  • Team Parent—get creative in serving & ministering.

Get all of our “Challenge of the Sexes” articles in the latest Youth Leaders Only.

The Pecking Order
Athletes respect athletes. A junior high male athlete is going to admire the high school athlete. The high school athlete wants to compete at the college level and the collegiate student athlete dreams of playing professionally. This pecking order is a great tool to help present the Gospel by using the “older” to reach the “younger.” So go and create pecking order opportunities!

Some “Go” Tips
The Male Student Athlete loves:

  • Food: GatoradeTM, pizza, JambaTM Juice, crackers.
  • Girls: Don’t exploit your girls but if you want to reach the Male Student Athlete, invite the girls!
  • Attention: Make a video and pictures presentation, show it to the youth group, have all the athletes stand and pray for them— especially the injured athlete (and go visit him).
  • Fun: Videogames, paintball, scavenger hunts, etc.
  • Filth: He will swear and make messes.
  • Fans: Go cheer him on!
  • Officials: Just kidding, don’t even think about becoming one of these if you want to reach the Male Student Athlete!

Now, go to the Male Student Athlete’s world and minister—scatter seed, spread salt and be light! But mostly—GO!

Clay is a former Youth Pastor of 17 years and the current Bay Area Director (CA) for FCA, played five years of pro baseball in the Atlanta Braves Farm system, is married to Kelly and together they have four incredible kids.

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