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Why my kids don’t play sports on Sunday mornings

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By The Staff

By Casey McCall

I love sports. In fact, it’s hard for me to even imagine my life apart from them. A typical summer day for me as a boy would have begun with sandlot baseball with friends and ended with a game of toss with my father in the backyard, being interrupted only long enough for him to check whatever was cooking on the grill. A summer night was never complete without Braves baseball on TBS.

So when I grew up and started having kids of my own, the question was never, “Are we playing” but “Which sports are we playing?” My five children have each competed in a variety of sports. We have a blast, and I appreciate the opportunities sports competition provides me as a father to teach my kids about character, life and God.

However, I’ve noticed that a lot has changed since I was kid. Sports are more serious today. Kids are asked to specialize in one sport at a much earlier age. Those who are serious about getting better are pressured to play year around. My youth sports leagues wouldn’t even schedule games on Wednesday nights because of church activities. Leagues today won’t hesitate to schedule games on Sunday mornings.

Because of that pressure, my wife and I have had to do some serious soul searching. We want our kids involved in sports, but we don’t want sports taking over our family. We’ve often had to remind ourselves that we are not victims to the sports calendar. We are responsible for drawing boundary lines and explaining to our kids why we do what we do.

Here are four reasons we don’t play sports on Sunday mornings:

1. We are not primarily accountable to a sports coach; we answer to the Lord of the universe.

The earliest Christians began gathering on the first day of the week to worship God and to fellowship with one another (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). The transition was made from the Sabbath to Sunday because Jesus’ resurrection took place on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). The New Testament charges Christians not to neglect meeting on this day (Hebrews 10:25).

We want our children to excel at sports, but we have much higher priorities. What good would it do to become a star athlete and yet forfeit your soul? We teach our kids to submit to authority, including the authority of their coaches. But all of that is meaningless if they don’t submit to the highest authority, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Our kids will enjoy sports more when they aren’t worshipping sports.

The Bible doesn’t believe there’s any such thing as a person who does not worship. We were created for worship and that’s what we are always doing all of the time. Disappointment and brokenness come from worshipping things that can’t fulfill their promise. Sports are God’s gift to be enjoyed, but sports will always disappoint when they become an object of worship. We are called to structure our lives around Jesus, not sports or anything else for that matter. Sports will disappoint. You won’t always win, injuries will occur and you’ll one day grow old. There’s only one object of worship that will never disappoint. Worshipping Jesus will never disappoint.

3. Self-denial is a valuable lesson for life.

It’s good to teach ourselves to say no to things we want to do for the sake of a greater cause. Parents, we practice this every morning when the alarm clock goes off. I’m glad my kids love sports. But I also know that in order to thrive in life, our loves have to be ordered. We are called to love God above all else (Luke 10:27). Sometimes, in order to love God, we have to deny ourselves lesser loves. I want my kids to learn this.

4. Church isn’t something we have to go to; it’s a privilege we get to share in.

I was coaching a baseball team a few years back, and my team had a make-up game on Sunday morning. One of the other coaches asked me if I was going to be there. Without thinking, I responded, “No, I have to go to church.” I immediately regretted my response. My response was not indicative of how I feel about church.

I love the church. I can’t imagine my life without the church. I want to be with the church every chance I get, because Jesus died to make me a part of the church. I want my kids to love the church, too. That’s why we don’t play sports on Sunday mornings.

Casey McCall is the lead pastor at Ashland Oldham County Church. To learn more, visit.ashlandoc.org.