Sports vs. Church

WARNING: The following may make you uncomfortable…may even make you mad!

Last Sunday morning I found myself sitting on a soccer field with one of my children for a tournament game. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining. I was enjoying some fabulous coffee.

I was also experiencing great frustration and conflict. I was frustrated because I could count 20 families from our church who were also at sports games that morning. This meant that these families were not at church.

I was also conflicted as I reflected on how I got into this situation. My husband and I know the value of church family. We know that consistency is very important for our children to build relationships with their church family and to grow as disciples of Christ. We have made many decisions over the years to say “no” to other things in order to say “yes” to church. And, yet, here I was on a soccer field on a Sunday morning! A couple weeks earlier the coach gathered the parents around and presented this opportunity for the soccer tournament that would land on a Saturday and Sunday. The way it was put to us, I felt like I had no choice but to participate. The team wouldn’t be able to play in the tournament unless everyone chose to play. If we said no, we would be letting down 12 other kids.

So, here I was sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game contemplating the predicament of so many families. Many families I’ve talked to about this feel like they have no choice for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s a sport that our kids love, maybe there are opportunities that would be missed if we pulled our kids, maybe we feel an obligation to a team, maybe there’s real potential in our little athletes that may never be recognized. There are many reasons that we come to the decisions that keep our families away from church. I completely understand how we get there – but I also know the long term effect that missing church will take on our families. And that’s the predicament that has been tormenting me.

Now, I’m not saying that one missed Sunday is going to derail your children’s spiritual growth. But I have noticed that our society is set up to undermine this discipline of regular fellowship with our church family.  So unless we are very vigilant to protect our church commitment, we can quickly find that one Sunday missed has become many Sundays missed, and before long church has ceased to be a habit and is reduced to something we do when we don’t have anything else to do on Sunday mornings.

When we say “yes” to one thing, we are saying “no” to something else. I have seen it too easily happen that without meaning to reject church, families are saying “yes” to extracurricular activities – but this “yes” is also a “no” to consistency at church activities and developing relationships with our church family.  I have spoken to so many parents who spend years on the field, at the pool, on the ski slopes, in the gym, or in the studio and when they get to the other side of these years have deep regrets. Their children don’t want to go to church, they don’t have relationships with peers or leaders who know and love Jesus, and they have not developed the discipline of making church a priority. These parents who now have grown children have expressed that they would do it different if they could go back and do it again. I have had several parents with grown children express that it was not worth it. They did not carefully guard their priorities and allowed other commitments to push out what was most important. They can look back and see that the time spent on other activities directly affected their children’s relationship with church and this directly affected their relationship with God.

Church attendance is not the goal…however, church is the way that God has provided for people to grow in their knowledge and love of who God is and build relationships with other disciples and from this time of focusing on Jesus and connecting with others who love Jesus we can go out into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ and his love with others.

I’m back to my predicament….I know that church is important….I also feel like I don’t have a choice sometimes. Can we learn from the parents that have gone before us? Can we step back a bit and think about the adults that we are raising? What if our children get to their early 20’s and have no relationship with God or other disciples of Jesus? Will we look back and say, “Well, at least they made it to the championships!”? Or will we look back with regrets and disappointment that our priorities were not reflected on our calendar?

Like I said earlier, this particular weekend I could count 20 families in the same position that I found myself in. Most were also frustrated and feeling helpless. Most of my friends find themselves making this no-win choice at some point in the year depending on the season. Many families are even sacrificing rest and are so busy and going so hard that they are making themselves physically sick.

Could there be a better way?  What if we ALL joined together and said, “NO! No more sports on Sundays!”? When we were kids, there was never anything scheduled on Sundays. We never had to choose between sports and church. Sundays were saved for church and family and gathering with friends. Can we reclaim our Sundays if we all worked together?

I propose that we give it a try! I also will say that even if our society won’t cooperate, for me and my family I will do what I can to maintain consistency for my children to be at church and build relationships with other kids and youth who know and love Jesus! I will not tell you what is best for your family…I will encourage you to take some time out to prayerfully consider this, talk it over with your spouse, and make sure your priorities determine your calendar and not the other way around.

Please share your thoughts…what have you tried as a family? How have you handled the tension of sports and church?at redwoods

This post has received quite a few comments, I just posted a response to some of those who are questioning and commenting on the idea that the sports venue can be used to reach those who don’t know Jesus yet. Check it out: https://familydiscipleshippath.com/2014/10/09/sports-field-mission-field/

About familydiscipleshippath

My husband, Tim, and I have been married for 17 years and have 3 great children. Our girls are 13 and 11 and the baby boy is 9. We have been living in Redding, CA and serving at Risen King Community Church since August, 2000. I serve as the Family Ministries Pastor. As a mom and a pastor, I represent both the church and the home and am on a journey of discovering and communicating practical ways the church and family can partner together to guide the young ones in our lives to know and love Jesus and live their lives(their whole lives) in light of that love.
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1,027 Responses to Sports vs. Church

  1. Tim Jones says:

    Most Sports are seasonal, so typically its a short term commitment. A lot of people are drawn to sports families (teams) because they feel more accepted there than some churches. I believe in commitment to a local church family and it is of the utmost importance for spiritual growth for the whole family. On the other hand we shouldn’t judge others as less spiritual because they miss a Sunday for a sports game. My family has missed Sundays because my son plays travel baseball. Sometimes it was one or more a month. When we were out of town we would have services at the field or bible study in our hotel. Before we judge those as less spiritual we need to get the whole story. Don’t fall under condemnation for missing a Sunday for sports,but never let the importance of church attendance and church family fall to the way side either.

    • Thank you for sharing. Great job making a purposeful decision for you and your family.

      • Lee Hinkle says:

        Remember the Sabbath Day…to keep it Holy…..”Saturday”…..In the beginning there was the word…and the word said let there be light…..and there was light…the first day “SUN” day

        • GirlinValpo says:

          I always thought Saturday was the 7th and Sabbath day…recognized in the OT. Christ’s resurrection on Sunday changed our day of worship to Sunday in the NT.

          • Bill Blackwelder says:

            You are right Sat. is the 7th and Sabbath and Sun. the firstday ofthe week. But His resurrection did nit change the Sabbath it modified it. Now the Sabbath couldbe anyday because Jesus did not cancel the law of the Sabbath but fulfilled it and He became the Sabbath. Now if we are Christians and Christ is in us then we are in Him , including the resurrection the everyday is the Sabbath. But Hebrews 10:25 the Word says not to forsake the assembling together of ourselves , in other words going to church. So I do agree we should always as Christians make Church our priority on Sunday. God Bless

            • Ted Malone says:

              The passage in Hebrews tells us to hold fast our confession and to consider how to stimulate to love and good deeds and to do that in the context of a gathered body. The command/instruction is not to assemble but to prepare for participation before we gather.

            • Larry Webb says:

              The law that which was unable to be kept WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS…….it died too. The only part of the 10 commandments that did not carry over to the NT was……Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy……

              • beth says:

                Then what did Jesus mean when he said he fulfilled the law but didn’t make it void? He showed that it wasn’t just action, but heart too. If you quote Paul when he said that we are not longer under the law, you are saying that Paul is in complete disagreement with Jesus. Which he wasn’t. But what we understand him to say and what he was saying was two different things. The only part of the law that was changed was the need for sacrifices to cover sin. Jesus was our sin sacrifice and it is done. If you check out Zechariah 14:21, which is a description of what to expect during the 1000 year reign, people make sacrifices in Jerusalem. Because there are many reasons for sacrificing that had nothing to do with sin. Research Messianic teachings on this. I believe Messianic Jews have much more of the whole picture than us Gentile Christians.

                • Bobby Goerge says:

                  I agree … the Sabbath is actually Friday evening until Saturday evening, so how does High School Football and Saturday Football/Soccer/Baseball fall into that time-slot ?

                  If the Holy Spirit tells you to not play on Sunday, then do not play, but if you can witness to people and have team devotionals on Sundays, this may be more effective than a traditional church service … the Early Church had fellowships every day of the week …

              • Bobby Goerge says:

                Where is that in Scripture?

                Be careful of man-made & selective interpretation of the OT laws

            • me says:

              Bill you said it best!!!!

          • Rick G. says:

            Not really; check out the 4th commandment! Most protestant Sunday worship is tradition-based, not scripture-based. Everyone makes their own choices – and will be held accountable for them.

            • rebecca says:

              i would beg to differ…i would say catholic worship is tradition based (my husband is catholic-not a bible in any pewat his church-just memorization) and i know at my baptist church we are all pulling out our bible every sunday and reading Gods true words and how to apply them

              • shirl says:

                Wondering if you apply all the scripture about all the gifts being in operation today too. I know my baptist church didn’t but we had bibles in every pew too.

              • Maggie says:

                Not only are readings from each old & new testament, a psalm and a gospel read from at each and every Catholic mass, we are all provided with written scripture in pews. And our prayers and traditions are based on the scriptures. You are right, we not only practice tradition, we celebrate it! And one Catholic tradition is weekly mass attendance…not so bad.

          • Fran Browning says:

            Yes it did. We worship on the Lords day.

          • matt says:

            no it most certainly did not the sabbath is always the 7th day read the bible dont by into churches doctrine

          • Clegg Fay says:

            We don’t have the same calendar as people did in OT times.

          • revdavemapes says:

            You are correct, girlinvalpo.

          • God says:

            The bible has never stated what day Christ was buried or resurrected. The friday to sunday belief was a creation by the catholic church.

            • revdavemapes says:

              Nonsense. Jesus rose on the first day of the week. The Bible says that. He was buried the afternoon prior to the Sabbath. The Bible also says that. I was not invented by the Roman church.

          • Maureen says:

            That is not in the new testament. The Sabbath Day was changed in the days of Constantine to get the pagans involved.

          • Ken says:

            Sunday is a day of WORSHIP! The sabbath was a day of REST not worship! People going to church on Sundays are not violating the sabbath (7th day of the week).

        • Paul Hurteau says:

          I thought it was “And on the seventh day he rested”.

          • Cat says:

            Sunday is actually the first day of the week, but who is counting as long as we honor the Lord with one day of rest?

            • Markus says:

              The calendars we use in Europe have Sunday as the seventh day. Sunday is the last day of the weekend. Why is this even an argument?

      • Lee Hinkle says:

        One other thing..how are the behaviors? During this harmless Sunday game..are people getting angry? Are people calling the opposing teams names? Remember this is the day that you choose to keep Holy..it is not a request of God, but a commandment..so if your are not keeping it holy, then you just as well be breaking all of the commandments..

        • Marie says:

          ◄ Colossians 2:16 ► New Living Translation
          So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.

          • mike says:

            Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
            Heb 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
            Heb 10:27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

        • Brenda says:

          We or should I say “I” am guilty of picking out “Bad Sins” – all sin is bad such as: name calling, bad attitudes, self-centeredness, gossip . I sometimes strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Lord us (ME) Lord to be more like you.

        • Jen says:

          It’s not just Sunday that you should serve The Lord… It’s everyday. You can’t predict what other’s will do with their life (on the ball field) but how you present yourself on a daily basis… Ball game or not.

          • Noni says:

            I agree. Church should not just be Sunday but any day of the week. You miss Sunday go another day and most churches have something going during the week. If you can’t do that, get your family together for a Bible study that evening. Sometimes sports can only be on weekends due to work and school schedules. Some coaches work on Saturday. I live next to one that does.

        • AKH says:

          True Christians should have Godly behaviors every day of the week not just Sundays.

      • Kathy says:

        In 1981, when my children were tiny, 2, 1, and one still in the womb, my husband saw us walking across the softball field where he was about to play softball early one Sunday morning. God spoke to his heart about where he was leading his family. Then it hit him, not just those two little girls and the one in the womb, their future family, our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and etc. would all be effected by his decision to play ball or go to church. That was the last time he chose sports over church. Today, our grown daughters and their families are serving the Lord.

        • Debbie says:

          I appreciate this personal story. I have seen the generational effect on families when the parents choose other things over God (because, in effect, that is what choosing sports over church is really doing). Parents who are mildly unfaithful to God generally raise children who take it a step further, who then raise children who progress to the next step. Before long, the grandchildren or great grandchildren are sporadic church attenders, at best, and are nominal Christians. Now, I know this doesn’t always hold true. But I’ve seen it more often than not. That’s why it is so very important to place a high value and priority on God and the things of God.

          Also, for those people who say we shouldn’t judge: as humans, it is a natural human tendency to make suppositions and judgments about things in life. We do it all the time about things both spiritual or otherwise. Think about this in terms of making suppositions about a tree based on its fruit. If your “tree” is producing the “fruit” of missed church attendance, what are we supposed to think? It’s none of our business, you say? Okay, but you are still “advertising,” whether you mean to or not.

          Ultimately, wherever we land in this topic, it’s a heart issue about priorities and value: where your heart is, is where your actions and words will be, where your time and money will go. It won’t always be easy. Sacrifices will need to be made. But God is worth it. Your children’s spiritual lives are worth it (of so much more eternal value than 10 years of sports).

          So I ask: Sports or other activities OR God?

          • Noni says:

            It can be both. I don’t see where Sunday has to be the only day to worship God,😦

            • Luna says:

              YES! I completely agree!!

            • Colleen says:

              it is because that is when the church gathers, so that is the day that is set aside. you can’t gather on Monday because church is not on Monday you cant gather on Tuesday because church is not on Tuesday get my drift. Gathering and worshiping together with other Christians is a call from God do not forsake the gathering.

              • Jeff says:

                I would be careful about saying that. I don’t know of any church that gathers on Monday or Tuesdays yet, but I do know of many churches that gather on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I know many people who attend church on one of those days with hundreds of other believers in the same building. Is that not church? Is church not just our corporate worship of how amazing God is? We need to be careful about making the actual day holier than who God is. This is the problem that the Jewish nation experienced underneath the rule of the Pharisees (Sanhedrin). They were so focused on making sure they followed the rules to the letter that they actually missed the Messiah when He came. If we’re not careful we’ll make tradition more important than following Jesus. Are you going to tell someone who attends church on a Saturday that they’re sinning? What is that’s the day that their church has chosen for corporate worship of God? Many times I have wondered that if Jesus were to have come in our time instead of 2000 years ago how many of us would be written about as the “pharisees” of the day.

                • sgrable says:

                  Well Said Jeff.

                • CeCe says:

                  Perfectly states, Jeff. I find it ironic and counterintuitive that so many articles from Christian writers/bloggers these days are consistently focused on how Christians are wagging their fingers shame-shaming other Christians for not being as holy as they are. Is it any wonder that that type of evangelizing is Turnimg more people away than bringing them in? My family doesn’t play ball on Sunday’s due to my kids’ particular sports teams ; however, I know many that do who are good and holy families raising their children in Christ. I will admit that within the last few years, my family has enjoyed more holy and truly Christ-centered devotions and moments when we were together outside of the regular church service, which is consumed with the “everyone is awful and disappointing God and by the way, we need you to do more, more, more at church to truly honor him.” Yes, we have tried different churches, but it’s pretty much the country club mentality, the mega church, or what I described above. We still attend, but there are now many Sunday’s when we stay in to silently read God’s word together, pray, sing, and worship as a family. I won’t feel guilty because I know what brings me closer to my Savior. Ci

                • Amanda says:

                  Most Catholic churches hold a daily Mass (everyday), but they still consider the Saturday evening Mass or Sunday morning Mass as the Mass that is “required”. But to your point (I think) it’s easy to mince words and Bible verses over when to “attend church” and completely miss the point. The point being that you spend time worshipping Christ and fellowshipping with one another to keep us all edified and renewed to our responsibilities as Christians. When debates occur about what is the “Bible Ordained” manner/time of worship, I can only imagine Jesus above, shaking His head saying “don’t you guys get it? It’s not about whether or not your service is at 9 or 9:30, but about getting to know me and allowing me to show you my love!” If the church you feel God has led you to meets on Sundays or Saturdays or any other day of the week, then that’s where you should be when they meet.

          • Bonnie says:

            I couldn’t have said it better, Debbie! Nice job. Sunday is set aside for most churches to meet and glorify God the Father and to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. Paul specifically says in Hebrews not to neglect gathering together and the church in those days met every day not just Sunday or Saturday…they loved God and wanted to worship Him every day. Some have to work on Sundays and this is understandable but if it is a choice…the choice should be made wisely as to being what’s most important in someones heart.

          • Debora Braun says:

            Well said!

          • Ruth says:

            I totally agree with you Debbie…

        • Maria says:

          I really respect that. It’s not about us – it’s about our children and generations after them.

        • Mary VR says:

          That is really awesome. A life-changing decision for your family but also for your future grandchildren!

      • Sandra Motheral says:

        I had a very athletic daughter who loved basketball and volleyball. When she got to the 9th grade, some of her teachers encouraged her to join the local CYO and Brier’s BB league. When I found out all the practices and tourneys were on a Sunday, I just said that wasn’t an option for us as a family. She was disappointed and pouted a bit. Then she wanted to sign up for league volleyball, and being almost 6 feet tall the coaches were eager to have her. Again practices were every Sunday from 11- 1pm but tourneys were on Saturdays. I had to tell the coach that Sunday was not an option as not only was it church but my daughter played the drums for worship every other Sunday. A week went past and the coaches called us and said they switched her age group to Monday nights instead! My daughter excelled at volleyball, got a scholarship to play in college and is now a head women’s volleyball coach at a wonderful Christian university in Indiana. And yes she goes to church every Sunday and plays the drums on occasion. Hard decisions but huge benefits.

        • N.B says:

          Your daughter sounds like mine (BB, VB, Drums) and she was born in Bloomington (I graduated from IU). My daughter stopped playing BB & VB and picked up soccer and Tennis. Keep us in your prayers as we hustle through balancing church and sports world.

        • RT says:

          It sounds like God blessed your decision to keep your family in church and teach your children the importance of worshiping on Sunday! Good work!

        • Steve says:

          My dad was a pastor. Missing Sunday church wasn’t even in the dictionary in our home, except possibly when a death certificate was involved. When I reached 9th grade I practiced with the school basketball team every day after school — every day except Wednesday. My family always went to prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings so that & homework took priority over basketball. The penalty for missed practice (regardless of the reason) was 2 swats with a paddle administered by the coach. (Yeah, this was a LONG time ago!) Every Thursday before practice I and 2 other guys who went to prayer meetings on Wednesdays went to the coach’s office for our “appointment.” (I’m sure that he would be arrested today, but back then his policy was followed, may I say, “religiously,” and nobody thought that it was all that noteworthy.) Anyway, that went on for 2 yrs until I transferred to another school. I’m certain that our commitment to attending church, while at first eliciting sneers from the coach and others, came fairly quickly to be an item which engendered respect. It was quite interesting that those 2 swats, after the first 2 or 3 Thursdays, got to be pretty tame. Suffice it to say, my family’s commitment to church attendance had a direct impact on me and my siblings. We’re all adults with children of our own. All of us faithfully attend various churches with the children who are still at home. I and another brother raised our families in foreign countries as missionaries and our adult children (and our grandchildren) all attend their churches regularly. That’s 4 generations of regular church attendance. Is there a connection between the decision to endure those Thursday evening appointments and these results? What do you think?

        • Joe says:

          Powerful testimony. One I needed to hear, being a father of 4 very athletic children this is a major issue confronting our family as well… Thanks for sharing……

        • Linda Daniels says:

          Way to go

      • Kim G. says:

        Rarely do we have a tournament weekend that we can’t find a church with a Mass that we can attend that fits with our game schedule. My kids enjoy going to Mass out of town and they are learning that the Church is truly universal. On the rare occasion that there is not a Catholic Church close enough to the tournament site, or with a Mass time that we can make it to, then we make time before everything starts on Sunday to read the Bible readings and reflection for the day and discuss it and pray together. A church home and family is very important, and we love ours very much, but church is about more than one place of worship. Attending church out of town is a great reminder that we can be with God and put our faith first wherever we are.

        • Melanie says:

          Kim G., This is a really interesting point you bring here. I agree with the author of the article, and we have made it a priority not to participate in events that regularly require us to be away from our home church on Sundays, but your statement about finding another body of believers with whom to worship on Sundays when you must be away from your local body bring back memories of my grandparents. They never missed services when they were home, which was almost always. But when they vacationed, they always made a point to find a local church to visit wherever they were. They made so many friends over years of travel. I have recollections of going to church away from home when traveling with them. It made an impact on me as a young person that, just as you stated – the true Church is not limited to a single location! It’s the sum total of believers all over the world.

      • Carol Dixon says:

        I believe that parents should be at all their children’s events.The family can go to an evening service, They also could have someone tape the sermon, watch a sermon on TV or have devotions together after dinner.

        • Carla Clark says:

          But will they do those things?

          • Krista says:

            I think it depends on the family. If spirituality and worship is ultimately important, their priority will be to “make it up” somehow, someway. I am in grad school in the summer, my husband works six days a week, sometimes seven, and while we may not make the 2+ hour commitment to church services (by the time you include getting dressed, getting there, and getting back home), we certainly make Bible stories and prayer time a priority even if we aren’t physically in a church building. I strongly believe Sundays should be for worship and family time and schools, sports teams, and community organizations should respect and help support the preservation of the family unit and time by staying away from scheduling events. Unfortunately this is not our culture anymore, and unless the boldness of a few help change the tide, this will continue to be the norm. Ultimately, I believe this is the premise of the original article.

      • Dale Patton says:

        I think one point we are missing from the author is that maybe if all of us joined together, we could remove the conflict from any type of activity that would interfere with our church services. My son plays traveling basketball and most of the time we end up playing on Sunday during a worship service, and at the same time no games were scheduled for the previous Friday night. Not so many years ago the games would be played Friday night, all day Saturday, early Sunday morning and if needed they would resume at about 1 o’clock Sunday afternoon…usually for the championship rounds. Everyone could still have time for family worship and still participate in the activities. As time went on, times were changed and everyone went along for the sake of “maybe this will be the break my child needs to excel”. Probably none of our kids are going pro and if they are good enough to play at a higher level, I am positive that not playing on a Sunday morning will not interfere with their ability.

        • Lila Mauldin says:

          Dale, I like your idea. My husband is an Minister and for us missing church was not an option, especially for sports. My boys are grown now but when they were young they had baseball on Wednesday nights. We went to the leaders of the church and ask if we could have a Bible study, devo for the children and families who participated in sports. We had several families come at 5:00 on Wednesdays. Our children learned the importance of commitment to both church and their teams. There are always good options. Parents have to be willing to make a stand. Today my boys are in their 20’s and both are still faithful to God and church service.

    • bgsawyer says:

      I knew there would be comments on this blog about being “judgmental”. That is the Christian’s favorite excuse for not confronting sin in other believers and for excusing their sin when being confronted about it. Please read the Bible where Nathan is sent by God to confront King David about his sin. Was Nathan being judgmental? This brought David to repentance. Read about Jesus confronting the religious people about their sin, and even His disciples about their sin. Jesus publicly rebuked people about their sin, especially those who knew the law…was He being judgmental? There are people who are going to hell because of their sin…there are Christians living complete lives of compromise who are going to suffer terrible consequences due their brothers and sisters in Christ being so afraid of being labeled judgmental that they won’t be “Nathan” to them. I pray for people in my life to show me my own sin when I can’t see it. I pray for it. It has brought me to repentance many times.

      • Missy T says:

        I absolutely love your comment and can not even begin to tell you the importance of your words in my life today. Thank you for the simplicity and basic lesson of remembering right and wrong and “helping” one another, in love, to do what is right….thank you

      • Mahlstadt6 says:

        I am a little confused. Are you stating that missing Sunday morning church service is a sin? And is that if you miss one Sunday, or two, or…how many?
        We are called to administer this kind of “rebuke” in love. Blasting somebody you don’t know on social media, is not loving.

        • Patricia says:

          I didn’t see any ‘blasting’ in this article.

        • I saw no one ‘blasting’ anyone. I only saw people who made decisions in their own and their families lives, and spoke of it to others, as possibly a guide to others who may have the same or similar problems with time and conflict of interest. I thought they were very good lessons, and one could learn from them if one were seeking some leadership. If one is only looking to cause dissension, then, of course, your (Mahlstadt 6) item may make some sense, but not really.

        • JulieBee says:

          I think maybe this might have hit a little close to home for you to think you were unlovingly blasted. My children are grown and as I read the article there is no blasting, just some thoughts and ideas about living a Christian life in a secular world. I wish I had had some basic guidelines to consider when my kids were growing up.

        • Db says:

          Of course it is a sin. Is it not a commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy? Wouldn’t this include putting other activities before church?

          • CL says:

            What activities do you do on Sunday that would cause others to have to decide on a job or church, like eating out, stop by the store etc. What defines a Christian? If you are on the soccer field do you show Christ’s love and share Christ with those around you? Jesus seemed to share his message more outside of the church building than within the church building (synagogues). That is where he met the ones that need to hear his message. Yes we need the church family and should not make a habit of missing but where two or three are gathered so there I am also. Do we include Christ in all we do or is it only about the game and we leave God back at the church? Take God with you where ever and whatever you do.

            • Jen says:

              Thank you! Exactly my thoughts.

            • Sarah says:

              Well spoken, CL. In my world growing up, I learned by living it, to departmentalize my life into separate categories: home, work, play, church, sports, etc., and to think of myself as a homemaker, employee, church member, team member, etc. As I’ve matured in my walk with Christ, something seems wrong with this picture.

              First of all I am a Christian, a baptized believer, a member of God’s family, the church. That is true whether I’m at home, at work, at play, at church activities or at sports. I don’t dress more or less modestly, I don’t change the way I speak, etc. I try to behave as a follower of Jesus, producing the fruits of the Spirit wherever I am, to please my Lord and influence those with whom I have contact. Do I fail? Absolutely!! (1 John 1:7 But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin.)

              When our children were at home and to this day, Jesus and His family (the church) were and are our life. That’s who we are…..wherever we are. Some times (not as a habit), we must miss a scheduled church meeting for one reason or another, but we still know who we are and to whom we belong, and we make every effort to honor Him with our lives. Written with love.

              • raquel says:

                I couldnt agree more! Not only should your faith be a ‘way of life’ but check your church life…if it is controlling your relationship with the Lord than perhaps it needs to be reevaluated. There is a difference between religious and religion. You cant allow yourself to feel guilty when your heart is in the right place based on Gods given peace for you.

            • DP says:

              Thank you, CL.

            • jill says:

              Outstanding CL!!!

      • SLV says:

        I appreciate this comment. Its application goes way beyond sports and the choices they present. In fact, this topic is very blog worthy in itself.

      • Janet Mitchell says:

        Very true, keep up the good work bgsawyer I totally agree.

      • micah68ph says:

        Well spoken. This subject comes up so frequently. Sadly, I think it shows the lack of Biblical dependency must of Christianity is plagued with. Scripture is clear that Christians are to hold each other to account, in love, seeking to root out sin from each others lives.

        Thank you for providing a Biblical perspective to a sensitive issue and speaking from personal experience.

      • Terry Waltz says:

        Jesus has the right to be judgmental. You don’t.

        • Breawna says:

          “My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5.19-20). Clearly this indicates sin is to be confronted, acknowledged, and dealt with. However, the motivation for confrontation in this passage is one of love, not condemnation.

      • Loralee says:

        Thank you bgsawyer for your comments. I needed to be reminded of the need to confront, and to not be afraid if the Lord is calling me to.

      • Thomas says:

        Excellent response! Right on the money.

      • Rhonda says:

        Very well spoken, bgsawyer!

      • CJ Hammond says:

        Great response! Thank you!

      • LisaM says:

        @bgsawyer Nicely put. “Don’t judge me” is too often used today. I’m sure that David was grateful that God sent Nathan.

      • Ebeth says:

        I agree with you completely it is a sad day we live in the bible clearly callsus as believers to hold one another accountable. The often resonant is the partially quoted scripture of judge not less ye be judged in order to understand what is being said you must read the rest of the verse. The whole verse says judge not less ye be judged in the same maner. As believers we are not only told to judge right and wrong but to set the standard of right and wrong in accordance with gods holy word.

        • Terry says:

          Ebeth, you are EXACTLY correct. Once again, too many Christians and non-Christians take only the first part of that verse. People need to understand the context of any verses they may use in the bible.

      • DAC says:

        I think what is most important is the attitude of the person giving the correction or confronting sin. Is it out of a position of self-righteousness or true concern for the betterment of the other person? Unfortunately, I think the Church, in general, has rightfully earned the “judgmental” stigma because finger pointing or “confronting” has come from an attitude of self-righteousness. Love is what is supposed to make us different! Jesus said that is how it would be known we are His disciples, because we love each other. Now, this is not to go to the other extreme and ignore things. We are called to hold each other accountable – but in LOVE and not through condemnation! I think this blog addresses a concern for all of us – not just with our kids’ activities, but what are our priorities in general. Church is not just a Sunday morning activity. We are called to be the Church all of the time, 24-7; 365 days a year. Whether on the field, in the gym or the sanctuary. What is the condition of our heart?

      • Deborah K says:

        Mahlstadt6, I didn’t see any ‘blasting’ here. FDP is sharing a conviction that is no doubt one shared by others.

      • Dean says:

        Amen…well said!!

      • travis says:

        You are right on sawyer. If there is no sin, then why did JEsus die? I dont look at people with a judging heart, but I teach what the Bible says and the Bible said there would be some who wouldnt listen. My son plays sports, but we have to remember the ole devil wants our time too.

      • Tina says:

        Hi bgsawyer,

        Replying directly to your response regarding Nathan confronting King David… We should remember that God told Nathan to confront David and Nathan was obedient. Sometimes I think because we “know” the what the word says that puts us in a place where we think we can speak into someone’s life about how they are living without praying about it and allowing God to show us how to approach (or not) that person, or simply just pray for wisdom and understanding for that person to hear from God themselves, eyes to be opened and ears to hear and a heart to receive… The Bible does say that “…with the same measure we judge others God will judge us…” Regarding Jesus rebuking the Pharisee’s, it would also do us good to remember that Jesus said that “he (Jesus) does nothing that his Father does not tell him to do…” Both situations you bring up talk about direct revelation from God… Not all believer’s operate in with that foresight when taking it upon themselves to correct… 2 Tim. 3:16. The Word of God is where we need to stand and live not on our own good intentions and sometimes it unfortunately is spoken out of head knowledge and not heart knowledge…

      • Donita says:

        This is priceless, being reminded of the story of Nathan, just what I needed today for I, as of last night called someone out for their sin and of course they claimed I was judging them. In prayer and hopes that they will turn from their sin and ask for forgiveness from the Lord. I am really grateful for each one that sees the importance of church on Sunday, for it is the day of rest and worship to all, and to say no to sports on Sunday is one good decision. Hopefully this will be carried over to many and more will say no. And yes I may have called someone out for their sin, but I also told them I am a sinner and thank God for His grace and that He can forgive me.

      • Kelsey says:

        Is Nathan’s confrontation with David about adultery and murder really an appropriate comparison here?

      • Sandra says:

        bgsawyer, Amen! I get so tired of hearing people say you are being judgmental when you try to warn them what the bible says about sin. They are feeling guilty that’s why they say you are judging them. The bible tells us that we should judge ourselves, so God doesn’t have too. That means we have to repent, and ask God to forgive us of our wicked ways, but some people don’t want to be warned, they want to live in their sins. I always say that people shouldn’t be mad at us for telling them the truth, they should take it up with God because He is the one they are mad at, it is His words of correction written in the Bible. God is just using us sometimes as the messenger. A good Godly friend will warn us about what God’s word is trying to tell us to help us. There has been times in my own life that good Godly friends have warned me of things in my own life that wasn’t right. That’s when I had to make it right with the Lord and not get mad at the messenger.

      • Alison says:

        Amen Sister!

      • Debbie says:

        Amen! “Don’t judge me!” is such a cop-out, to borrow that expression. Whatever happened to Christians who, instead, said, “If eating meat causes my fellow believers to offend, I won’t eat it”? We’re such pansy Christians in the USA today that God and His Word tends to take second (or third) place to what we think or feel.

      • HBA says:

        Well said bgsawyer! I am a pastor and I get that all of the time. “You cannot judge me and if you do you are sinning.” Jesus said in John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” There is noting wrong with a Christian judging the sinful practice of another Christian. That is how we help one another when we do it in a proper, Christ-honoring manner.

        The truth is, we worship, not in a manner convenient to us, but prescribed by God. While it is mainly tradition that we worship on Sunday, it is based on the resurrection of our Lord. Go to corporate worship on Sunday. If you put anything else in the way you are committing idolatry.

    • KatieStarr says:

      But here’s the deal–there are 6 other days in the week to play, so it’s not like anyone will be deprived by not playing on one day. However, those who, for religious reasons, choose not to play on Sunday are penalized and made to feel like garbage for their choices. That’s the part that isn’t right.

      • Julie says:

        Matthew 5:11-12

      • drewpage says:

        There are 6 other days to play but what sports are we talking about here? Most tournaments are 2 day events and Saturday is usually pool play and Sunday is Bracket play. Everyone can’t travel Thursday night to play Friday. I’ve seen parents hold their own mini service before games and talk the word with their child. M-F is usually for practice unless you are playing in an organized league that can play during the week. I have friends in the NFL that made sure they went to Wednesday/Thursday service to make sure they had their priorites in line.

        • Delight In Him says:

          Remember the SABBATH and keep it HOLY. It’s not about keeping priorities in line, it’s about serving God with all of your heart soul and mind and obeying His commands. We are not supposed to rearrange things to fit our own agenda (ie: I can’t go to Sunday service because I am playing in a game, so I’ll just go another day and “get in my church for the week”.) Even if we think we are doing the “right” thing; if a decision is not biblically based, a person might want to think about wether or not it’s the right thing to do. We alway shave the choice to serve God – always.

          • KZ says:

            You sound more like a Pharisee than a Christian, so I’m sorry for you to be living under the law as the Pharisees certainly did. Jesus didn’t preach that 1 day a week be kept as holy. Are you sure that the commandment to keep one day a week as holy transfers to the New Testament church which met daily in homes (etc.)? Are you sure that Sunday is the original Sabbath Day? According to the Jewish Halakha, the Sabbath is from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night? Are you talking about this commandment? Or is there another commandment, supported by Jesus’ teaching, about another Sabbath on Sunday? My point is that if you’re not keeping to the ACTUAL O.T. LAW OF SABBATH, how can you hold others to it? Do some research…you will experience much more freedom and assurance of the work of the cross if you do🙂

            • Debbie says:

              I think Delight In Him was pointing out the principle and heart-implication in that verse to NT Christians today, rather than the actual OT law meaning. I could be wrong, but that’s what I gathered from the comment.

              The whole “Sabbath” argument often gets thrown around as much as the “don’t judge me” argument does by Christians who really don’t want to follow God and His Word. I’m not saying this is true about you; I’m just pointing out how clear teachings and/or principles in God’s Word are overlooked when the water is muddied, so to speak, because we just don’t want to obey Him. We’d rather follow what we think and feel (as long as we can “argue” it) rather than simply obey God. (And I realize that “simply” is really not the best word, since wholly obeying God often means much sacrifice in today’s world.)

              • Dave says:

                Amen Debbie! Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” And to my Biblical understanding, His statement does not apply to only one sin. It is all about Christ, honoring Him and having a heart that desires His glory, honor and our obedience. We fail … and He forgives. However, when we use excuses over and over again to justify what WE want or want to do, something about that picture makes me think about how often we can be ‘middle of the road’ and God says He will “spew us out of His mouth” in Revelation if we are ‘lukewarm’ to Him and His calling on our lives.

          • Rev Cathy A Fanslau says:

            we also need to consider what example we are setting for our children. Will they put God first in their lives?

      • Christy H says:

        Being “penalized” or “mAde to feel like garbage” is a good lesson for kids and parents to learn in being persecuted for doing right. Christians today have very little concept of what REAL persecution is. I recommend reading Foxx Book of Martyrs to help Christians understand how good we have it today.
        Growing up in a Christian home where missing church for sports or our teenage jobs was not an option, at age 30 now and having Facebook to show me where all my peers are at, it’s astounding how true this article has proven itself to be in my firsthand experience of who is still in church and who have abandoned it altogether. Very insightful. Thank you

      • Linda Sexton says:

        I brought up this issue to my son’s soccer coach years ago, and very often. I could tell the other parents thought I was out of line. It was very uncomfortable. When possible, we took soccer clothes to church, changed and got to games a little late, if they were in town. Otherwise, we skipped church (which I do NOT think is a sin) so he could play–soccer was very important to him and he was a team leader. Privately, I pointed out that having been raised in the church was part of what made him the leader he is, and the coach didn’t seem to “get it” but did, on many occasions remark that my son was an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding athlete. We missed church quite a few times, but my son understood the conflict. Looking back, it all worked out. That son is now a high school basketball coach, and more understanding than most when kids miss practice for a family or church obligation.

      • Tim Taylor says:

        There are also 6 other days of the week to go to a job, but those same people who are speaking against missing church for kids sports are often the same ones who do not even consider taking a stand against working on Sunday. Many of these would not ever consider taking a pay cut to stand for their faith. I don’t disagree with many of the comments, but we select others failures and don’t address our on How many of those who speak out against sports on Sunday go out to eat after church every Sunday…. causing others to have to work and miss service themselves. If all churchgoers stopped eating out, many reasturants would have to start closing on Sunday.

        • jill says:

          Restaurants closing on sundays? Why not have everything closed? Tell those single mothers that work their hind ends off to make a living for their kids, to not work on sundays. There are many examples of people who have to make tuff decisions. Going to eat AFTER church affects church services how? Funny as Christians we get so caught up in these small things, such as restaurants being closed, that we are missing so much of what is important. Many aspects of some churches is indeed mimicking how the pharisees were. It’s no wonder people shy away from organized religion. I shudder reading some of these comments…..How would a non-believer reading these responses feel or think? I believe with all of my heart that Jesus is disappointed with Christians and how we handle ourselves. Jesus is love, love is compassion, love is not condemning someone that misses church. Love is “he who is without sin, let them cast the first stone” (including me) I try to focus on winning non believers to the lord. Maybe I end up helping a non believer to know Jesus while I am standing on that field watching my child. Maybe I set an example of what it means to be a Christian out on that field. Always surrounding ourselves with like minded folks means we are missing out on bringing those that are suffering to the lord. There is a time for EVERY purpose…….

        • Shannon says:

          Okay, so I’ll tell my Christian firefighter/EMT husband he can’t work on Sunday. I guess no one better get in a car accident or have a house fire, because he won’t be there to help.

    • Jenn says:

      There’s a difference between missing a sunday and multiuple sundays, which I think the article addresses. Hockey is especially bad for that where I live (the great white north), where the weekend games/tournaments are far and on Sunday EVERY week. And the season is long, early fall to springtime.
      Definitely a struggle I can see in their lives, especially when the kids show athletic promise. I don’t judge, I’m not there yet. But as a youth leader, I can see the lost opportunity to get to know these kids both for myself and for other youth them through youth events, as the practices are during the week for the weekend games!

      • Shelly Farley says:

        Thank you Jenn for sharing. I have 4 boys who play hockey in Virginia. Ice time is hard to find & yes we have games on Sunday mornings. We go to church when we can & thankfully our church has Sunday evening youth group & bible studies for adults. I struggle with this a lot but find myself trying to share devotions with my children on game days & tournament weekends. I have found some wonderful Christian moms through the weekend tournaments. My husband & I do the best we can & I know we are judged because of the choices we make.

    • Mike says:

      I Certainly don’t feel the article was condemning anyone for choosing sports over church on an occasional Sunday. The point made by the author is a very good one and can’t be missed by just saying “to each his own.” As a dad of four we faced this many Sundays and always made it a priority to find a church service where we were on a Saturday or Sunday night. All four of our children have played or are playing college sports and our family motto with no regrets was “God gets first!” More importantly they are all following Jesus today! Great article🙂

      • Bob Thomas says:

        Mike….good add to a good blog. You broadened it out & kept God front & center. God gets 1st. Amen. Thanks! Bob Thomas

    • Could I publish this article in our church newsletter? Thank you for your consideration.

      Loving and serving Jesus together,

      J.Frank Williams
      Oak Hill Christian Church
      Corinth, MS

    • LaDonna says:

      She did not judge anyone. She shared her thoughts and how it affected others and asked if anyone else felt the same way and if so then stand together with her to take back our Sundays! I agree with her. If you don’t want to, that is your right but don’t belittle what she says and twist the words!

      • Ok here goes:

        I have several statements and points to make here. First of all Ladonna is right she is not judging anyone she is simply stating how she feels and asking for opinions. My father is a minister and a retired school teacher. My sister and I grew up going to his church that was ran by him and his best friend. In this church they allowed anyone to come without judgement. They would have a Saturday night and Sunday morning service. They also held Bible studies on Wednesday nights. Now my dad’s friend Chet had grown children. My Dad and mom were younger and had my sister and I. I was very involved in clubs and sports all threw school. I was also in choir at school and sang on the worship team at church. My parents fully supported me in my activities and if my dad needed to go to a game or concert etc. Chet would do the service. Yes we might have missed a service here and there but we didn’t miss out on any Christian values. Also I appreciate to this day the values and friendships Iearned being a part of those teams. My point is that you can find other ways to keep God in your life and attend church services. It is also important for kids to have the option to participate in other activities. It gives them a sense of value and importance especially when the parents support them. Also no one is going to hell for missing a church service. Most churches have more than one service. I take my son to church but there are several services to choose from. Also part of the problem with Churches in all denominations is Judgment on other people including fellow Christians. My father didn’t allow it to go on in his church he would nip in the bud immediately. We all fall short and sin at times and no one is perfect but any one from any walk of life should be allowed to attend any church without fear or judgment. Sorry about the long response but as you can tell I feel very strongly on this subject.

    • tish says:

      The author isn’t judging anyone. They are posing a thoughtful topic to consider the outcome. It’s not condemning or critical and not judging

    • John says:

      Judgement and condemnation comes only from a Holy God, but if we feel as though we are convicted or feeling uneasy about a decision that we have made then that is good because The Holy Spirit is dealing with us to make better choices. Life is about making choices. And we are, as saints of God, called to be in the world but not of the world. So our lives should be a continual worship service 24/7, but if we find ourselves distracted then we need to prayerfully consider where our focus is directed and on what. We must not quietly duck down as Christians so as not to offend people, but rather be the “called out ones of God” and let God dictate what we do!

    • Kelsey says:

      I don’t think that the author was judging. More like putting thoughts to paper. I don’t think he/she even mentioned families that don’t attend church at all. Just the position of those that do. We have all struggled with this and most of us are not as diligent as you were to conduct worship and bible study with the team while out of town. The occasional tournament is not a problem but many club sports totally disregard that their paying players do attend church and it is a conflict. Until high school I told coaches that my kids would be there as soon as service was over if it was local. Considering the level of talent and effort put forth from my kids since then, I am glad that we didn’t miss.🙂 I figure if they have real talent, they will still have real talent if they miss a few games or if their team is not the state champions.

      • alainsworth says:

        Excellent thoughts, Kelsey. I am a former high school baseball coach, I saw many more talented players who had burned out from too much baseball than talented players who couldn’t catch up from lack of experience. I know from putting too much emphasis on sports myself that they are great tools for teaching character but poor gods.

    • Jerry C says:

      nice read. In the 70’s, my brother and I were made to choose between Wednesday meeting and football practice (not a game!) Our daddy did not decide for us; but, told us to decide. (We knew what he wanted, and what we thought God wanted.) We explained to our coaches that we needed to get off on Wed. in time for church. We just knew he was going to kick us off the team. He paused, and then announced, “I am going to turn out practice early, for everyone, so we can all go church!” (this was NOT a Christian, private school) Imagine our surprise?! To God be the glory!

    • Renae says:

      It’s called responsibility to do our part that benefits the long run of life and what was said in this write up is true. What will you take at the end of your life. The saying “Only one life will past…. What’s done for Christ will last”. I promise you that what time you spend in church will benefit you far more then what you spend on the ball court. It’s been proven over and over. No judging just truth.

    • Kathi says:

      I agree, take it to yourself to make sure you read the bible or talk aboutt he bible, its more than just one day a week.. Its 7 days a week… what about the people that have to work every weekend, not on a ball field, Does it make them less a christian… You need to live it every day. God knows who stands strong with him in or out of a church.. Bless you for your thoughts.

      • Lisa says:

        Good Point!

      • I feel very sorry for parents who have to work every weekend. We all know how it’s easy to slip away from it all. One weekend here and then it’s another one and another one. I’ve a friend who has gotten into the habit of working every weekend and never goes to church. He knows it’s wrong. We NEED each other. We NEED to be in the Lord’s house. We NEED to make it a high, high, high priority in our lives. Otherwise, 10 years from now we’ll look and say, “What happened?”

    • Tom Steele says:

      Soccer is one of the greatest offenders of eating up family time and taking Sundays away from families – year round . In my mind, I felt our family was devoting too much time, energy, traveling to sports instead of other activities that a child should be self motivated to participate in. It also makes the child a little self-centered to have the family revolve all of its family schedule and energy around their sports. The next realization is how these sports pull you out of the church community and other adult communities. What happened to sports being a local activity that allows the adults to still participate in adult activities? When and why did it become so important to devote so much of our adult downtime to our children’s sports? Why the directed and supervised activities all of the time? This does not make for a balanced family life let alone a spiritual one.

    • Melonee Pigott says:

      “One or two times a month” doesn’t sound like a lot. Let’s look at a percentage of days. At best,one or two times a month considering 4 Sundays a month. That is half your Sundays that is to be reserved for honoring God, learning scripture, fellowshipping with believers and focusing on worship. The other statistic, I think applies, is that most people only start out with 4 days out of 30 about 12%. And time wise the average Christian that is “faithful” to church (Sunday morning only) that is 3 hours out of 112 waking hours in a week. It’s not that many to begin with. How many sports families would miss school for a game? It is not about level of spirituality,it’s about priorities. Matt. 6:21. Where your treasure is there your heart is also. There is a spiritual battle for our hearts even more so than our time. Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life Prov. 4:23. our time is a good thermometer. It is not about judging others. You may try to justify your actions, but let God be true and every man a liar. Romans 3:4.

      • the “world(devil) will try to get “.GOD’S” people any way he can. We must put GOD 1st in every thing, they do and are watching our lives and how much GOD really is important. “WHAT would JESUS do?”

      • JD Nichols says:

        Wow ! Can’t believe some of what I am reading. I can only say that there is no distinction for me in what activity I participate or my kids participate in as long as I believe that is what I am called to do. There is nothing secular in my life if I believe the following verse : “I have brought glory to God by completing the work He has given me to do.” Everything I do – work, sports, play, volunteer, etc is an act of worship to me and there is nothing that God isn’t a part of, so to make a distinction as Melonee has above implies that “life” – which involves many things other than attending church, somehow isn’t in balance if we don’t spend “x” number of hours inside a church. I don’t accept that I can only honor God on a Sunday morning or be fed spiritually only between the hours of 10:00 – 12:00 on Sundays. I am grateful for a church that offers Saturday evening services, 3 Sunday morning services and a Sunday evening service and that they don’t take roll or send me a time card showing when I punched in.

    • tina vega says:

      I totally agree with Tim Jones! missing a few Sundays because something is going on is not going to cause your kids to grow up and not have a relationship with God… Now dont get me wrong i can see where YOU may feel this way and with that being said YOU need to not miss any Sundays for whatever reason, however dont think that just because thats your conviction that everyone elses relationship with God is so weak that ocassionally missing Church is going to hender something….We miss sometimes due to family being in town sometimes due to visiting family out of town, sometimes of a sports game or even a family outing and I asure you that we take our God with us…

      • Lula says:

        I think it’s important to remember that whatever we do instead of church tells our children that this activity is more important than church. It tells them, it’s okay to miss church if it’s for ___ event or activity. I sure want my kids to know that nothing is more important than gathering with God and the believers… Including work.

    • Jeanee says:

      I don’t see the phrase less spiritual anywhere in her article.

    • SUSANNILSON says:

      good one

    • themortgagedaddy says:

      Tim
      It is not about judging a person it is about judging the actions of a person. The Bible says “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” A god in your life is something elevated above the service of the true God. Even if for one Sunday, you choose a sport over worshipping God your are still elevating something above Him. The next time you are at a travel baseball game ask yourself one question: Where would God prefer me to be right now, here at a baseball game with no eternal value or in His house worshipping Him? The answer is clear.

    • Connie Puckett says:

      I completely understand with you, alot of people do judge others without knowing everything.

      • I tend to think that it’s pretty much observation, other than judging. If people see you falling away from the Lord and His family of believers (the church), then it’s pretty easily observable what’s happening. Instead of talking about it, we need to take the need to the Lord in prayer, because it’s certain we can’t do any convicting. Only the Holy Spirit can get people to put their priorities back into place. We do need to let our children know what is the most important to us.

    • Granny says:

      So who is Number one in your Life? you make the choice!!!

    • Jaime Garcia says:

      Both of my daughters have been involved in sports since they were children through high School. But we have always minimized sports on Sundays to do church life together. Now as the Lead Pastor of our church I can see the effect it is having on our families who are not worshiping together consistently because of sports.

      Sports will come to an end but life to life church family experiences are life impacting. _Pastor Garcia Bethel Houston

    • Tim says:

      This was not a judgemental article. The author was just calling you to think about it and pray about it. To judge is to condemn, to be judge, jury and executioner. He was asking you to think about your behavior in light of Scpiture. I think to often Christians scream “don’t judge me” to avoid listening to the encouragement that comes from brothers in Christ.

    • colleen says:

      Seasonal but having children, children change activities for different
      seasons band, chorus, cheer-leading, or sports they keep on going, I tried to find coaches who went to church also to up my chances of not practicing on Sunday. The devil will try to steal your time too.
      .

    • B. Hileman says:

      I can see nothing judgemental in this article.

    • Julie Rothuss says:

      Very nicely put! Church is more than going to a building on Sunday. Church can be anywhere you chose

      • L Bell says:

        Well, no. Church is church. Not church is not church.

        • Shannon says:

          Um no, THE Church is a body of believers, not a building. The Bible doesn’t say “stop gathering at your middle to upper class, Americanized church building on Sundays”, it says “don’t stop gathering together.

    • Well, which is it? Which IS more important? That is where your heart is, all protestations to the contrary.

    • Martin says:

      Your answer is very accurate… My daughter has played volleyball for years and will be graduating this year and moving on to Liberty to play vball. We have used this sport as a ministry as my daughter has had ample opportunties to pray (we with parents) with her teams over the years. God gave her these skills to be used for His Glory. We also attend Church at our host cities when we are away, however, some folks think you are missing Church when you are not at your home Church.

    • Bob Randolph says:

      When my daughter was playing competetive softball we often had Sunday games during tournaments. At the time we were not regular church goers but one organization came up with a solution. They had a minister come out and they had a service at the sports field before the games started on Sunday morning. I agree it is not a substitute for church family but it is a way to compete, have church fellowship, and do mission work and carry the word of the Lord. It was an optional service but there were often 40 or 50 players and their families that attended.

    • Michael S. says:

      I think you should forget the “Don’t judge me” clause and look at the long term of what slacking up on Sunday worship has done to our society. Parents are responsible for properly raising their children in the nurture and admonition of The Lord. Our society has pushed God and Church attendance so far back on the shelf that it is no longer a priority, so as children grow up, God and Church are “nice” to have but the most important things are “other” things. There really is no reason to argue the point, just look at the Church today and the respect that much of society doesn’t have for it.

    • Marie says:

      Everything in life is about balance. We can even over-do good things. … Condemning others just because we disagree with them on something is not scriptural.

      ◄ Colossians 2:16 ► New Living Translation
      So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.

      • Delight In Him says:

        You are taking God’s word out of context! God is God no matter what. He is to be our All in All. Fully woshipping Him is certainly not “too much of a good thing”. He is holy and almighty and we will all stand before Him one day. Do we want to do so knowing we have been lukewarm? We can not treat our Creator who gave us life like He is some sort of a hobby.

    • Brianna says:

      I play travel softball and have a strong Baptist faith. I play on Sundays. That is a decision i make. But the KJV bible says anywhere there are multiple people worshiping God is to be considered a place of worship. we hold devotions before every Sunday game and invite other teams to join. To me spreading the gospel to others on a Sunday at the ball field is just as amazing as sitting on a pew. I know the feeling of having a church family too but when i have a chance to introduce a stranger to God it feels great.

      • DM says:

        you can introduce strangers to God anytime, it doesnt have to be a sunday… it sounds like a good reason to skip out on church but giving God a few minutes before a game isnt the same as worshiping him with fellow believers and being fed the word. I think a lot can be said for what it is we as christians decide to do with our sunday’s. ANY time we put something before our God. It is idolatry. no matter how it is dressed up. Just a personal conviction but i believe that sunday is the lords day.

    • I pastored a great group of people for almost 30 years. In the initial years I found many ways to encourage them to be in every service and be loyal to the church. I tried everything I knew to get people to come to church.

      Then one day I was standing on our property, overlooking the city, praying, “Lord, give me this city….” I heard a little still small voice in my mind saying, “Would you stop praying that?” I was startled, but stopped and waited… The message continued… “Would you start praying, ‘Lord, give me to this city?'”

      That Sunday I confessed to the congregation that I had the direction of the church wrong. I had assumed that our purpose was to gather at events, hold services and be loyal to the church. But I had been corrected. We were here to go into the city, to influence the life of the community and to be servants to our world.

      I started taking responsibilities in the city and encourage the people to do the same. Soon, the church was the gathering place for many community events and it filled up with those who would have never met Jesus, except through those who went into the communities events and functions.

      The police department used our building for funerals, community meetings and so forth. This simple change of direction awakened us to the community and they started flowing in. Our attendance grew a bunch, but it no longer mattered to me how many came – just how we went!

      • a phrase we often use in our church is “gather to grow, scatter to serve”

      • jimpemberton says:

        I agree completely. That is precisely what the focus of the church should be. It’s a matter of discernment, however, to understand that some will use it as an excuse to stay out of church. They may claim to be “going” as a point of fulfillng the Great Commission, but they are actually trying to justify activities other than that. I’m not inclined to let people deceive themselves and others on that point.

    • DMBryant says:

      Yes. Sports are seasonal. However, when one season ends, another begins. If you desire, you can be involved in some sport all year long. That’s a lot of Sundays missed.

    • Each sport has a season, together they fill the year. Football players MUST attend summer training; baseball players run or play basketball In the winter. Mist sports kids I know play them all.

    • Kyle N says:

      I don’t make a big deal among the 2. I would have picked the game too. Church has a tendency to make me drowsy, plus tough for a single guy to go when always asked questions I don’t like.

    • madz says:

      You kind of missed the point. She was not condemning or judging- as was stated. She is simply a Christian mother who had a thought and/or personal conviction and decided to share with others to promote thought and prayer. Duh.

    • meneltarma says:

      Tim, if you are looking for validation for your individual decisions to say no to church, I’m not going to give it to you…because I wouldn’t really be loving you. The best thing I ever experienced was a friend who would never give an inch to my excuses. If you really wanted to meet with the LORD for the renewal of his covenant each Lord’s Day, you would be there. Every week. And I stand first to be condemned that I don’t always follow through on that truth. I just want to point out that we gain nothing as the family of God by easily giving each other a pass just so we don’t look like we are judging “those as less spiritual” or whatever Christian PC language you want to use. The call to worship is from God. You figure out the implications of that.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you for your post. I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband is a coach and he misses several Sundays during his season. He finds ways to keep his relationship with God strong. He does struggle during seasons but with team Bible studies and personal devotions, his faith has stayed strong. I would love for him to be able to go to church but it just isn’t possible. Plus, the MOST important thing in life is your personal relationship with Jesus.

    • alissa coggeshall says:

      fortunately, my kids have not been asked to attend sports activities on sunday mornings. on the rare occasion of a sunday game, it is scheduled in the afternoon AFTER church time. we do have to sacrifice some wednesday night Bible studies for baseball practice, however. i am not comfortable even with that! i kept thinking while reading this story how the families could make the most of a bad situation by talking with one an other about the Word while cheering on their kids. it was noted that at least 20 other families were there. why not have a little Bible study going on? other families who do not know the Lord may be drawn in, and thus, the Christians doing their job to spread the Gospel!

    • Ty Ball says:

      As A Kid I played, on Wed, up till church, then Left baseball in third inning to go to church, Then was faced with tournament and if I left we forfeit so played till game over and coach rushed me to church.
      Now I am a coach and Have daughter on Soccer team. I faced this delima and refused to coach and let others coach this Volunteer tournament and gained more respect from those families because I took a stand.
      I I eel you should set example for your kids and be in church, if kid has to be in game, find other families to get kid to game and to church after if possible.

    • Debbie says:

      Tim, your reply is a typical one these days, in that, whenever we call something out for not lining up with God’s standards, we get accused of judging. The author of this post never once said anyone was being judged as less spiritual and yet, you mention it twice.
      The cold hard truth is that our society worships sports. Plain and simple. That’s not judging. It’s observing.

    • Luna says:

      I agree with you and I believe the importance starts at home. When you talk with your kids and have that open dialogue, that is the consistency that is needed. Not to some man made building full of hypocrites that cuss you out on the soccer field on Saturday and then sit with their hands in the air in reverence on a Sunday morning in church.

    • dude, in my town soccer is not seasonal. its year round. how is it that soccer came to be the least church friendly sport? is suspect because it came on in popularity after baseball, basketball, and football, who had ‘dibs’ on prime game time.

    • fredlozo says:

      Well said, Tim. The church is wherever the faithful gather, and it is very important to attend worship regularly with our church family most often.

    • Doy Nacpil says:

      Just want to repeat your balanced suggestion. I like it and its True….
      “Don’t fall under condemnation for missing a Sunday for sports,but never let the importance of church attendance and church family fall to the way side either.”

    • Natacia says:

      We play travel ball but every Sunday we gather as a team and have devotion. Anyone is welcome to attend. This is important to us as a team. Gathering like this at a ball field in public shows our boys and others a Christian atmosphere it encourages others to do the same or others to join. You never know who needs to see are hear the Lords work. You may touch a child or an adult that other wise would have never heard the word.

    • BETTY WRIGHT says:

      I agree with you 100%,most of the coaches are not christians and don’t even think about going to Church on Sunday . So it is up to the parents and also grandparents to go to Church and not attend the Sports on Sunday. If we band together the they cant’t play and sooner or later the will have to stop. It is so hard to not let your child be the only one not there because as of now he will be punished in some way by the coach. So I really loved the note you wrote on this situation and it has gotten way out of hand, as I have also took sports over Church as a grandparent.

    • John Kay says:

      Tim,

      You’ve opened your reply with a circular argument. You said not to judge however you’re judging that people are drawn to sport families than some churches. Is that a fact, of course not. The writer of this article also isn’t pointing to the fact that someone is less spiritual but pointing out that our society could care less whether there are games on Saturday or Sunday and believers are put in a predicament of choosing. Do you realize that Church isn’t there just to serve you and your own family but as believers who give their lives Christ are commanded to serve others (Church body)and reach the lost. How do we do this if we show up only when it fits our baseball schedule? I have to laugh at the writers comment “another championship”. I played hockey and our team won multiple national champioships and how has this impacted the kingdom of God?

      God Bless

    • Rob McGee says:

      this lady isn’t judging anyone. she is sharing a conviction. a conviction that I share and have lived through.
      you can have Bible studies and devotions all day Sunday before or after the games, but you have just squeezed out a little time for some lip service to God Almighty. however, He doesn’t seem almighty enough to be chosen over a ballgame/event.

      I coached travel ball for 7 years. we played Friday and Saturday, then told them no thanks for the sunday play. and most of the time we would’ve been in the running for the almighty trophy.

      • Joe Howell says:

        Rob I love your comment about God not being almighty enough to be chosen over a baseball game. I agree 100% with you. I also think we all do the same things with other things in our lives, and to esteem God as God, we must retain God in our thoughts all the time, He is to be top priority in our lives and our children must see that, even when we must take part of our time away from them to spend with Him. Not to the point that we neglect them or our spouses, but show them He is top priority and always should be. Isaiah 64:4 says, For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what He has prepared for him that waits on Him. That word wait does not mean what it appears to mean, it doesn’t mean just be still and wait or God will do this if you wait in the normal sense of what we think of as waiting. The Greek word that is in the original text means, through the idea of piercing; properly to adhere to. It comes from another Greek word that is almost spelled exactly the same as the other and it means, A primitive root; to carve; by implication to delineate; also to intrench: We need to constantly be digging in to seek His face, intrench ourselves in getting to know Him, A.S.K., Ask, Seek, and Knock.

        • Larry Webb says:

          I agree….it’s not just sports…..we are told not to “forsake ” the assembling id the saints….forsake is to turn your back on….. When Jesus asked Zhod from the cross…. My God my God why do you forsake me? I have done the same in my life. Just wish it had not happened. This is the footprint of our society…..we have in general forsaken Jehovah….

    • Rebecca Crame says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with your point, Mr. Jones. However, I did not get the impression from the blog here that there was any judgemental attitude shown. I believe this was the honest reflection of one mother’s heart. I was married to a non-believer at one time. I tried so hard to be submissive and allow him to be the head of the household and dictate where the family would be on Sunday morning. After all, it was not a “sin” to miss the occassional Sunday and I was still having worship wherever I found myself. But, inevitibly there were those in my church family who judged me for not being present, so I truly do agree with your post. I just think it needs to be said that judgementalism was not shown by the author of the post above. Thank you, though, for opening up the topic to be seen from another perspective. There are always two sides to every story. And, I am a firm believer that what is correct for one, may not be correct at the time for another. We are each at different points in our walk to maturity in Christ. It is wise to remember that when we find ourselves falling victim to condeming others without realizing that we have not walked in the others shoes.

    • I understand and have lived the very scenario you describe. I appreciate the concept of banning together to just say no but I suggest that that this may not achieve the results you desire. And, it is possible that by “banning together” we isolate ourselves or create a kind of club environment that was not Jesus’ intended course for us. Will those who don’t say “no” be less worthy or considered “lesser” members of the same churches or lesser Christians? As you said, attendance is not the goal. Learning Jesus teachings and living them as best we can, day to day is what we are striving for in Jesus’ name. So what about a different approach? Times do change so perhaps we need to think of ways to maintain our faith and the traditions that surround our faith (i.e. Sunday Church attendance) in these changing times. So what about asking the other families from your church who you meet on the soccer field to hold a short prayer session at the start of a Sunday practice? What about inviting the 20 families to a pot luck bible dinner after the soccer game? What about using it as an opportunity to get to know those families and suggest a rotation so that not all the parents have to miss the same day at church (thus sending a message to the children about the importance of church), what about asking your clergy to hold a short service on Saturday or later on Sunday for those 20 families who missed church due to sports? What about asking your church to record service or SKYPE service while on field? …all the other kids who are not playing and the families could watch from the field. Maybe, just maybe, we might even add some new members along the way. So in summary, I would ask us to think about how Jesus would react to the same issues today’s world presents? How would Jesus solve the problem?

    • Debora Braun says:

      I didn’t get that she was judging anyone. Not sure where you got that she was.

    • Humberto Alba says:

      This reminds me of the following that I edited to address the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). But you can substitute the word “Bible” in stead of the “Book of Mormon” to suit whatever religion you belong to.

      Isn’t it strange how a 20 dollar bill seems like such a large amount when you donate it to the fast offering fund at church, but such a small amount when you go shopping?

      Isn’t it strange how 3 hours seem so long when you’re at church, and how short they seem when you’re watching a good movie or a football game?

      Isn’t it strange that you can’t find a word to say when you’re praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

      Isn’t it strange how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Book of Mormon but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel?

      Isn’t it strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games but they’ll do whatever is possible to sit on the last row in Church?

      Isn’t it strange how we need to know about an event for Church 2-3 weeks before the day so we can include it in our agenda, but we can adjust it for other events at the last minute?

      Isn’t it strange how difficult it is to share something we learn about God with others; but how easy it is to learn, understand, extend and repeat gossip or off-colored emails?

      Isn’t it strange how we believe everything that magazines and newspapers say, but we question the words in the Scriptures?

      Isn’t it strange how everyone wants a place in heaven but… it is so much easier to do the things that keep us from getting there?

      Isn’t it strange how we receive jokes in e-mails and we forward them right away, but we think about it twice before we share messages about God with others?

    • Karen says:

      We were a family that was involved in a local church. My children attended Sunday school, church service, weekly youth group and church clubs. I was on our church executive as well as the executive of our day care board. My parents were also very involved in the same church. This was the church that my mother grew up in, was married in and then I was married in. Her father was a decean and gave much to the church. Our family had history, then when my daughter chose attending a sports activity instead of youth group she was banned from the youth year end event. We left the church and have not looked back. How she was treated was this spiritual was this godly, would God approved? She was treated no different than when she was bullied at school.

    • Shawn Meyer says:

      The way I see it, you are justifying your sin, sir.

    • Roger says:

      Bah Humbug! It takes only one or two families to resist and make the teams/leagues/tournaments to NOT schedule games on Sunday mornings. Once upon a time (and still in the Romance language areas) the first day of the week is called “The Lord’s Day!” That means the tithe or first fruits of this day belong to the Lord, not to us. Where are parent with enough backbone and gonads to resist this Lord’s day idiocy that can and should be scheduled at another less conflicting time.

    • shirleyvand says:

      Who’s judging? The writer didn’t once judge other people. On the contrary, she showed compassion and understanding for the choices they’ve felt pushed into making.

    • Jeremiah F. says:

      Tim you are completely right that people feel more like a part of something with sports than with church. Perhaps we should stop bemoaning why people ditch church and fix church. I find it an indictment against our churches that people find more purpose and development for their kids in sports over church. Maybe we should point the finger back at ourselves?

    • Mike Crick says:

      There you go ! You can praise God and study the teachings of Jesus with your family and church friends at the field before or after the game. I feel certain that God knows your intentions.

    • Allison says:

      My children participate in lots of sports. Right now we are doing travel baseball. He plays for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We play in tourneys that include Sunday. Our families go to the park an hours before the game, we worship together and our coach ties it all into baseball for the boys. We are very blessed. Do what is right for you, our minister and I have had conversations, we travel a lot and miss a lot. He comforted me by saying, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you worship the Lord. I listen to podcasts, radio, read.

      • I agree Allison. “Church” in the bible is not a building but rather a Greek word that means to gather together. Athletes church has a free app that allows coaches, players or parents to call up a sports related devotional and have church with their team at the ballpark. The kids love it!! And to be honest, it may be the only “church” kids are getting because some are not attending even when they are off on Sunday’s.

    • Daniel Hoey says:

      Like so many things in our world today…there are subtle but strong detractors from our relationships with God. We tell ourselves and others that we will seek, find and converse with God in nature and in places outside of the formalized setting of church. And I honestly believe that we can and that some of us do. I see his craftsmanship in everything around me. But we must also honor Him in his house.

      The slippery slope of relativism is such a pervasive danger. When we avoid the organized Church and seek to find Him on our own terms, that is moving, ever so slightly, towards humanism. That is not where we need to be. That is not where He wants us to be.

    • Sandra says:

      Unfortunately in our community, hockey is every Sunday morning whether practice or game and runs all year round if a son or daughter wants to be in a select – all star type competitive league, Sunday commitment is required. The option of a short term Sunday commitment no longer exists. Also, competitive (rep) softball, soccer and football require a long term Sunday commitment.
      I hear the author’s heart and hear no condemnation of others. I hear her voice and her pull in two directions. Processing such thoughts are so valuable to the eternal degree. It is where we prayerfully consider and pour over God’s Word about His expectations and our obedience to His Word.
      As a mom (and former competitive ball player) this decision was difficult. When my first child was 2, I was pulling into our garage, was listening to Focus on the Family. Dobson was speaking about sports, church attendance and example. He offered thoughts, not condemnation but really good food to chew on. That son is now 19 and I still remember Dobson’s words. They were something like this, “Would you allow your child to sign up to play soccer on a Wednesday am, requiring he/she to miss school every Wednesday for the entire school year. A majority of parents would say ‘no’ of course not. Education is important. Then why do we give less consideration to our kids Christian Education? And in terms of eternity, which is more relevant?” These thoughts became our family’s navigation through sports. A very difficult yet rewarding choice for our children and ourselves. Our kids have not always been thrilled but understand that we must endeavor to make Christ our center. Did we experience blessing from this…the year we had to put the “plan” into action was rewarded. Our son, 11 at the time was asked to play on a select soccer team for Eastern Ontario. The night the coach called to ask us, I had to ask the dreaded question, “When is practice?” Coach replied, 11:30 (smack dab in the middle of our church time). Feeling sick, like a kill joy, and wondering if I just ruined my son’s future, I responded, “I am sorry my son will not be able to join your team. We have a family rule that we must be part of Sunday service regularly, thanked him for his call, then found my son to break the news. God was so good. Our son though disappointed said he knew our family’s reasons and got it. About 30 mins later our phone rang and the coach called again. He asked if our son could play if he changed practice time to another time?! We were stunned and overwhelmed by God’s goodness and provision. That provision for my son continued until he no longer played Rep soccer (3 years and different coaches). We learned when God lays a truth on our hearts and we are obedient in responding, He will make a way for that which is according to His plans.

    • elisa says:

      I think this is a good article and I really didn’t see where it was being judgemental. It is easy for anyone to fall out of church and it takes something that you love to do it. There is nothing wrong with families uniting and saying they want sports to remain on days when there is no church. That is only 2 days a week they would have to work around. It worked for years. We need to keep God first always. It is nice that you have bible studies and such at the field. Not many do that.

    • A. H. says:

      Sure sports are only for a season or short period of time. But when one sport ends another begins and oftentimes those who are big sports families play multiple sports. Then it turns into a whole bunch of missed services.
      Also, that’s great that you have services when not at your church but honestly how many people do you think actually do that??
      Missing church doesn’t make one less spiritual but when there is a habit of missing and putting oneself in a position to miss church frequently, it goes against biblical principles taught. And true spirituality comes as you adhere to the teaching of the Word of God and obeying what God commands us to do.

    • Peggy says:

      Most are seasonal Tim. But when children are involved in multiple sports all year long and missing 2 Sunday’s a month becomes routine our children are affected. Placing a sport as a priority over the House of God. The writer is not being judgemental. He is stating from his experience and others experiences how easily it happens. How easily kids grow up with no plan on sending their children to church. Fantastic article.

    • Steve says:

      I would very strongly disagree that sports is a “seasonal” thing, it USED TO BE, but for the past many years it has steadily become a year round thing. Starting about 40 years ago, I have been the biggest fan of my Children and Grand Children in all activities they have been a part of, I have been heavily involved in cheerleading, gymnastics, youth softball, adult softball, baseball, football and basketball, as a player, a coach, an umpire, a team dad and so forth. Yes most sports did START off as a seasonal thing, but over the years it has become almost a year round deal, when you factor in rec. ball, school ball, travel ball and year round practices. Back in the early eighties I was coaching football and MANY towns back then INCLUDING the town we played in, did not permit games or practices on Wednesdays or Sundays so as to not interfere with Church.

      • David says:

        What if all of the “activities” available to children today are a concerted effort by the Kingdom of Darkness to distract the family as whole all under the guise of a “happy” and “fun-filled” childhood filled with plenty of opportunities to discover what the child enjoys.

  2. Chuck Mcalpin says:

    When we practice 24/7 discipleship with our kids, a Sunday missed is a much smaller picture. Many people go to “church” every Sunday and never have a relationship with Christ. Teaching them to honor Christ with our whole life has much more impact than teaching them the habit of attending “Church”. You are the church, you attend an assembly with the saints to worship God.
    I will agree that saying no is harder now than ever. My advice: say no and protect your family time. Only 2% of these young athletes will ever play A division 1 sport anyway.

  3. Kelli says:

    I am the mother of Six children, all involved in sports. We made a decision as parents early on that we would NOT play sports on Sundays. We are also a Marine Corps family so we have had to reintroduce ourselves several times to new leagues, teams etc. As we joined a new sport or a new league we would always let them know as we were signing up that we would not be participating on Sundays and was that a problem. Many said of course not, but sadly if that particular child was really skilled and a Sunday game popped up, the coach wasn’t as accommodating as they were in the beginning. We would have that conversation again. I totally feel your struggle. I will tell you the first few times we stood against the pressure to play it was hard. it was uncomfortable. Now with two children out of the house and the last four growing up quickly, the results of our commitment are being seen. It’s worth it, and each time we move I really really dislike that conversation. I believe that my children will be blessed in their lives as we strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, not just the Sabbath morning. I totally appreciate the points of view already expressed in the comments, but for us personally this was something we felt strongly about. Maybe because there other areas of the gospel and discipleship we struggle with more? So no judgment, just a testimony that we are seeing the fruits of our commitment. Our children are no less skilled than their team mates. I feel the Lord blesses them, and us for this quiet personal family commitment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and struggle. You are NOT alone.

    • Thank you so much for sharing in such a humble and encouraging way.

      • Carol says:

        Many of the large mega churches in our area have Saturday evening services! Well attended! What do you think!

    • Lara says:

      Excellent role modeling, for your kids and community! Thank you for being willing to truly put Christ first, in word and deed🙂

    • Lonnie says:

      Sounds like the principal that Shadrach, and friends used and God honored them.

    • Loralee says:

      Your testimony encouraged me, Kelli. Thank you.

    • Arthur M. Grubbs says:

      …”just a testimony that we are seeing the fruits of our commitment.” Well worded reply!

    • Arthur M. Grubbs says:

      “So no judgment, just a testimony that we are seeing the fruits of our commitment”. Well worded, Marine Mom!
      On the other hand my father used to say you can always tell which dog in the pack got hit by a rock thrown at them, by listening for the one that yelps first and loudest.(NOT that anyone here threw a rock,)

    • I feel like you’ve hit the whole idea of putting aside a day “right on the head.” To me, it seems like we need to keep a day separate from being a play day, to worship the Lord. It’s not that we can’t do anything but “be in church,” but it’s showing that we have a day that’s different from the other days and we’re refusing to let it become a play day. I’m sorry this was hard, and I’m thankful that our kids never had to play on a Sunday when they would have had to miss church. I actually prayed more than once that we would lose a tournament so that we wouldn’t have to deal with this issue, and I’m a Pastor’s wife, so I suppose this should have been easy!

    • Michael S. says:

      Amen!

  4. Peggy says:

    To the first two commenters-there was no judgement or condemnation at all in this article. Instead, it was an introspective of the author. Often times, when I feel judgement or condemnation, it is because I am feeling slightly guilty to begin with. And the shortest season in sports I have seen is 8 weeks. 8 weeks of missing church is not a short season.

    I DO like the idea of doing a Bible study or devotional on the field. And for those occasional Sundays where you do decide to attend the field, we need to remember that WE are the church, so there was a church body represented on that field.

    Sounds like a great opportunity to have 20 or so families attend church on the field. Sing a song, say a prayer and read the Word. What a testimony to the other families and what a wonderful opportunity for witness!

    It won’t just happen. Next time, if there is a next time, perhaps you can call the families ahead and ask if they would be interested in participating. Let them know what you plan and where you will meet. If they wish to help with the service, they will let you know. If not, they will likely at least attend! Unorthodox-you bet! But I bet the kids will remember that church service for a long time and you are still instilling the value and commitment to church.services.🙂 .

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I agree that it would take forethought and purpose to create an alternative service on the sports field. This particular day that I referred to, I didn’t know about most of the families until after the fact and we were spread on many different fields at many different times.

    • Granny says:

      So what is the message, go to the soccer field and pretend church or just keep the Sundays to teach your kids respect????

      • etterama says:

        What is pretend church? You seem to have a very narrow definition of how to have church. When Christians gather together to Praise the Lord and study scripture, I’m not sure we should call it “pretend” just because it didn’t take place in a building with a steeple.

      • Brianna says:

        I mean no harm when i say this but if you practice your religion every single day God hears you the same as on a Sunday in a pew where some people are focused on who is in church and who isn’t. It does no good religiously to be there for show. And im sorry but your mistaken there is no “pretend church” you can worship God where ever your comfortable and he accepts it. I play travel softball and we have devotions before our games and we invite other teams on Sundays… thats a chance to fulfill our duty to introduce a stranger to God. Im sorry if you disagree and feel free to judge but ultimately its not for you to say how is best to worship God.

  5. bgsawyer says:

    I notice that often you use the phrase, “I had no choice” and you use the term, “I found myself”. You did have a choice and you didn’t get to your location by chance. I have two grown children who were not allowed to participate in Sunday games…they suffered consequences from the coach. This caused people in my family and even my Christian friends, to persecute me. I lost many of them, in fact. The bottom line is, parents do have a choice and they are teaching their children to compromise when it comes to their relationship with Christ.

    Repeating and propagating the “I had no choice” or “I felt like I had no choice” lies, is going to create conflict in your children with regard to how they deal with sin. We serve a jealous God who expects to be put first in our lives. The fact that attendance at a juvenile sport game on Sunday or the Sabbath would even cause debate about attendance just goes to show the lukewarm nature or today’s Christian church. Do you think the Jews would attend on the Sabbath? How about Muslims? No. If they are faithful to their religion, they certainly would not make this compromise.

    We are quickly approaching the coming of our Lord, soon, I believe. God is serious about His relationship with us. We need to be separate from the world and we need to be BOLD and uncompromising. Yes, we may suffer, our children may suffer, but He warned us of this suffering. It should not surprise us. If our hearts are wrenched and we are conflicted over attending a juvenile soccer game instead of church, what hope is there if we are ever asked to die for Christ or deny Him? If we can’t even miss a kids soccer game for church, and to be a bold witness, will we be able to stand for Christ at the risk of losing our lives? These seemingly little things are very revealing as to what the future holds for Christ followers. Compromising these “small” things is an indication of what the future holds and explains why many saints will deny Christ and fall away from the church.

    I know that this sounds harsh, but I believe our time here is short and we need to start getting serious about obedience. We aren’t doing anyone a favor by debating an issue such as this. God says He comes first. Period. I am not being judgmental…I have lived a life of compromise at times, and suffered consequences. Four years ago I realized that God expects to be first and He expects me to obey Him if I truly love Him.

    I read other comments about not being judgmental. I suggest that you read about Nathan’s confrontation with King David. The Bible says that God sent Nathan. Was Nathan being judgmental? No. He was shining the light on David’s sin…which even David couldn’t see clearly. We are to shine the light. We are believer’s here, not lost…we can discuss our sin honestly and head on…if we set the example of being different from the world, that will be the message that the lost hears and sees!

    • Thank you for your input. I appreciate your point of view and your own convictions.

      • bgsawyer says:

        Thank you for bringing the topic to the forefront. I am following you now and look forward to reading more blogs!

        Because of Jesus.

      • Granny says:

        TEll it like it is!!! We all have choices, what rules will your son or daughter use when they are offered drugs and alcohol……will it be soccer rules or the Ten comandments>>> You make the choice, you will only raise these children once, NO DO OVERS!!!
        This is not judgmental it is honesty and the truth!!

      • I do love the fact that you’re basically calling us to bond together and refuse to play on Sundays. That’s really the ONLY way it’s going to change. If we all keep buckling, we’ll never get the word out, but if they don’t have 5 out of their 12 players, they’d re-schedule!

    • TK says:

      “if we set the example of being different from the world, that will be the message that the lost hears and sees!”

      I appreciate the call to be uncompromising. I agree that a watching world should be able to see that we are different. However, I’ve never heard of anyone coming to faith because their Christian teammates refused to play soccer on a Sunday. The differences I hope people notice, and what I think would actually draw people to a relationship with Jesus, would be differences like being more loving, more generous, more gracious, more peaceful, and more joyful; more stringent in church attendance doesn’t seem like something that would make someone say, “THAT’s what’s been missing from my life!”

      I’m not advocating skipping church; I’m not saying that we should be lax or undisciplined, I am saying that our motivation for that discipline should be for our own spiritual health (and the spiritual health of our kids), rather than as a witness to not-yet-Christians.

    • Sara says:

      Amen! God be glorified!

    • Loralee says:

      May I repost this on my fb page, giving you credit, of course? It is so well-put, and so important!

    • Denise Rogers says:

      Agreed…..and there is a difference between judging and warning. Our choice of which it is seems to depend on where our standings are, which we all are free to choose. There are bona-fide warnings stated in the original blog, and if we would earnestly seek God’s Word and take an honest look at where we as families are, well, we ought to run back to The Lord and declare His righteousness, and yes, reclaim the Lord’s Day to be what HE Intended!
      “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
      Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
      Isaiah 58:13 & 14

    • DM says:

      Amen!!!!! not only are we warned of suffering. We are promised suffering. We should rejoice at the opportunity to suffer for the sake of our Lord. Especially if we actually believe what we say we do about the way he suffered for his people! Thank you for your honesty. There is a lot of tip-toeing between Christians today! like you said it is shameful that this would even be a discussion. is it okay to miss church.. I often wonder what the martyrs and church fathers would think of today’s Christians. I wonder if they would be ashamed to associate with us… oh even to consider giving up church for a stupid game.

  6. Angie says:

    I’m not sure why others have to band together to say no. This herd mentality is what can cause so many stumbles in our walk. If you are feeling conflicted and that you made a bad choice, make a better choice for you and your family next time. While I agree that one missed Sunday is not going to blow your Christian walk, having wrong priorities over time will. When we value what others think of us more than we value what Christ requires of us, we walk a very slippery slope. Tough stuff in this me-centric world we love in. Praying you take the stand you feel Jesus would have you take.

  7. Laura says:

    I know you’re not trying to say this or anything, but I just want to clarify that saying “no” to attending a weekly meeting inside a church does not equal saying no to God.

    And as for sports, I am sure participation has many benifits, but it shouldn’t consume our lives.

    • Good point…no, I’m not saying that a no to church is a no to God….however, placing yourself and your family in an environment where you can build relationships with other followers of Jesus and learn and worship corporately will strengthen your relationship with Jesus and providing this environment for your children will fuel their faith as well.

    • micah68ph says:

      To be fair, for some people saying no to the weekly meeting IS saying no to God. All the comments here speak to the diversity of the heart, personal conviction and individual calling that we all struggle with. Some feel very clearly called to represent their faith with uncompromising commitment to church gatherings. But they may have a grumpy day and feel the temptation of disengaging in an unhealthy way. Is that right of them? Some feel a calling to parts of the world where no Sunday gathering exists as a witness to those without Jesus. Is that them rejecting the Sunday gathering or embracing God’s calling to his glory?

      Saying no does not have the same implication for everyone. God knows the heart and I pray would surround us with people to speak to our heart and what our “no” means. But just as truly as “no” doesn’t always mean saying no to God, it also is not absent any response to God.

  8. bahowson says:

    I LOVE that you wrote about this topic. It has been a big deal in my life. Growing up, my parents never let me miss church for a sports activity – not once. One time our championship was on a Sunday morning and my coach BEGGED my parents to let me play and they would not fold. In hindsight, my parents refusal to buckle taught me where my priorities should be- no matter how “important” the “worldly” circumstance might be. They chose the black & white approach – no gray area. I now have two under two so I have not faced this issue as a parent, yet. Though, I’m fairly certain that I will handle it in much the same manner as my parents. Their consistency is a key factor in me not straying from the church in my high school or college days, and now as I have my own family. For your particular situation, I too would have felt really bad letting down the other kids. In that instance, I think a prayerful decision is the only way to go. In my opinion, whenever we are wrestling with these parenting decisions, we should think most about who we are willing to disappoint and at what cost are we willing to give in. Thank you for writing about this. I know you were put in a tough spot and I hope you find rest in making these decisions in the future, whatever the decision might be!

  9. My daughter was a skilled athlete and we missed a Sunday worship here and there to attend her tournaments. We made sure we went to evening services or Wed. night services to ( I am ashamed to type this) “make up for it.” She won many championships and was even a college prospect until… she was injured with a 3rd concussion. Since we still attend church and walk the difficult Christian’s walk, many might say no harm was done. I, on the other hand, beg to differ. We had a chance to say something to the world. We had a chance to put Christ first and foremost in all things we did. We had a chance to show others what Christian living really meant. Unfortunately, we failed. Like Peter. And David. And Noah. What did this teach my children? We will never know what impact our decisions have had on their walk, their relationship with Christ, and their salvation. While we cannot go back and change it, if I could I would do it all very differently.

  10. chris says:

    so playing a sport on an occasional Sunday, is bad? so when we gather at church on Sunday for worship and then get together with some of our church family afterwards at McAllisters for lunch, aren’t we helping the workers sin ? because they are at work rather than church. am I going to be labeled a sinner for working at the fire department when my shift falls on Sunday? are the doctors from my or any other church labeled sinners for not coming or leaving early to go help a patient in the hospital that needs them? I do not believe so, I believe my God is bigger than this trivial concept of “if the doors are open we should be there” attitude. I do believe in being consistent, I do love my church, my savior and my family. we have a daughter that from time to time plays in travel softball tournaments that requires Sunday play. but she also attends worship on Wednsday nights, goes on mission trips etc. I believe she understands the value of attending church regularly and loves to do so. I feel absolutely comfortable with her playing on Sunday’s

    • Good job ensuring that your family has opportunity to worship and build relationships. I don’t believe I said that working on a Sunday was wrong. The dilemma that I see so often is that other commitments are creating a barrier and pushing out times of worshiping together and building relationships with other followers of Jesus. I appreciate that you have thought about your family priorities and found ways to find consistency with your church family. Thank you for sharing.

    • Fr. Jody says:

      I think the point is precisely that, because people are generally bad at setting and maintaining boundaries, what is “occasional” doesn’t remain occasional. I thought she did a good job of highlighting that issue as a regret that she has heard from folks farther down the parenting road.

      That said, Christians are going to have to learn how to negotiate the position of “creative minority” and practice our faith without the support of the culture, and even in the face of active (though not vindictive) opposition. We should probably ask our Jewish neighbors how they’ve dealt with so many events being scheduled from Friday evening to Saturday evening… and be willing to have our behavior seen as equally at odds with the culture as the Conservative and Orthodox Jewish communities’ sabbath keeping has been in a “Christian” context.

    • Mommat says:

      Exactly….

  11. Sports Mom says:

    Interesting to read all the responses..
    This issue is a hot topic in our house.. with 2 athletic boys, one of whom plays top level for his city in a sport that goes all year round, it is a constant conundrum. To further the issue, in our city the winter season for this sport is relegated to only Sunday games due to sharing field space and this makes it very difficult as all the games are on Sundays… at different times through the day… not always morning… but with 2 playing.., 1 in 2 sundays sees us challenged.
    In addition, my oldest (a high schooler) finds sitting through the adult sermon very difficult as he generally feels he doesn’t get much from the message… so he is not motivated to attend the Sunday morning service. And I see this being a huge issue for my ADHD kid in a couple of years. (There is nothing past grade 6 at our church during the service) (He does participate in weekly youth group one evening a week and enjoys that and has just done Youth Alpha with that group.)
    It’s a journey and one I navigate year by year… for right now I’ve chosen to say “NO” to any practices on Sundays (at any time in the day) and “Yes” to games… and to seek to encourage personal devotional reading at home and discussion around the table around Bible issues/passages… not always easy with boys.. but one day at a time.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your challenges and your solution. I really value your decision to navigate as you go….it is definitely not a cut and dry issue and has lots of gray area and each family must decide on purpose. Thanks again for your perspective.

  12. Xwailer says:

    Thank you for this post. As I once put it to a friend, “have you ever had a friend that would only spend time with you when she didn’t have anything better to do?” That’s how many families treat their commitment to their local body of believers. As pastors of a local church, my husband and I deeply feel the impact when our church people choose other things over faithfulness to our Church Family. All pastors, whether of a mega church of thousands or of a house church with just a few, work tirelessly all week long to prepare for their weekly corporate gathering. They seek The Lord, study, pray specifically for the families in the church and for a word that will minister to them. But when Sunday morning rolls around, it is discouraging when those families are (habitually) missing. Many times these are good people: filled to the brim with potential to grow the kingdom of God and change the world for Christ! But sadly, many never realize that potential because they are committed in so many other directions, they never have time to understand all that God could do through them. How heartbreaking for a pastor!
    Secondly, it is true, as some commenters have stated, that WE are the church and we can “Be Christ” to the other families on the field. However, we have six other days a week to be in the world. God purposely commanded us to take a day of rest. It is for our good. And the Holy Spirit strategically designed the Church to meet together regularly for encouragent and discipleship. When we choose to prioritize other things over what God has stated is for our good, the result is, naturally, to the detriment of our families, our children, and our spiritual lives.
    Lastly, I so appreciate your viewpoint on the consequences not prioritizing fellowship with believers can have on our children. It is more important than ever for us to be vigilant in surrounding our children with – not just good- but GODLY peers and mentors. Everyone is speaking into your child’s life in some way or another. Wouldn’t you want as many of those voices as possible to be voices that speak life: showing her her value in Christ, and pointing him to Jesus? The argument has been made that if we, as parents, are prioritizing the things of God at home then faithful church attendance is not as necessary. I was a youth pastor for many years and can tell you that the teens who’s families were invested into the life of the local church, serving alongside other believers, and regarding our church family as THEIR family, were hands down more grounded and sincere in their personal faith than the teens who were only receiving godly instructions from their parents. Again, who else, besides you, is influencing your child? I am a firm believer that the first and primary place that a child should receive the Word of God is in his home. I also firmly believe that God, in his wisdom and love, has created a larger Family to support yours in raising your children in godliness and truth.
    Take advantage of it and thank God for the gift of your local church.🙂

  13. Scott says:

    20 families? Before or after the game could have had “church” at the field and invited your unchurched teammates to join.

  14. Patrick says:

    As a pastor I often have felt the tug and pull of this dilemma as my own son played Pop Warner football. Our church at the time had 2 services and we always made sure that our family was in Attendence. Are people leading their children down a wrong path by letting them participate on Sunday? I’m not sure. But I do know that there are many things in life that will force us to choose church or something else. My hope and prayer is that the families in our church will serve God, serve each and be a light in a dark world. Sometimes that light ought to shine on the athletic field on Sunday.

    As the writer James put it so nicely, “To he who knows what is right and doesn’t do it, to that one it is sin.”

  15. Kimberly says:

    When our 3 oldest played soccer, we were blessed to find a church that had a league that had NO Sunday games and NO Wednesday practices. It was a big church (it ran its own “league”!) but most of the players, coaches, and parents weren’t members there, just people who had heard about it and liked the way it was run. We actually drove an hour each way twice a week for it. It was a great experience. I think other big congregations or groups of congregations could get together and create something similar.

    • That’s really cool. What a great idea. I love that it wasn’t only “church people”. One of the greatest aspects of kids sports for us is connecting with those in our community who don’t know Jesus yet and building relationships with them.

  16. Samantha says:

    God’s Word tells us to keep the Sabbath holy. To decline sports on Sunday is an act of obedience to God and He honors our obedience. It may be uncomfortable or difficult to take the stand at the moment, but it’s never a bad choice to choose obedience. It sets an example for your children and it is a witness to those around you. There is NOTHING–no sport, no club, no activity, no tournament–that is more important than teaching my children to follow God. We make tough choices now and our children see it and learn how to make tough choices in their own lives.

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. Each family needs to pray and think about what it means to “keep the Sabbath holy.” I’m glad that you have figured it out for your family.

      • Samantha says:

        That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s a “get out of jail free” card for anyone who really doesn’t want to make the tough choices and follow God completely. Of course we can pray and think about what it means to keep the Sabbath holy, but we have to be diligent to read Scripture and to really be willing to do that which God calls us to do. We have to be earnest when we seek His will. We can justify nearly anything if we try hard enough. But I think He has been very clear in his word about these matters. Let’s not be too quick to let ourselves and each other off the hook. It’s the Lord’s day. Give it to him.

    • Lisa says:

      This is actually a reply to Samantha’s reply . . . well kind of anyway, but there wasn’t a reply button on her post. Anyway, I agree that the Word should be our source for all of our choices. There’s a lot of debate and consternation about sports vs. church, but that’s just one issue. If living intentionally is the goal, there are many topics that should be included. Most of them are uncomfortable. Deuteronomy says that we are to teach our children about Him from the time they get up in the morning, as they walk along the way, when they eat, when they lay down. That’s true discipleship – we call it education mostly now. If the command found in Deuteronomy (and other places in the Word) is 24/7 discipleship, everything we do: sports, finances, education, etc. should be focused on Him.

      I see the debate about attending a church service vs. playing a game a lot, but doesn’t it take our focus off the bigger issue? The issue is the entire life of your child(ren), not just whether they play a game on Sunday. There are so many finance classes and people going to Financial Peace U – all good and well – but I think God places a higher priority on the souls of our children. Who educates them 5 days a week? Who coaches them in sports? Who mentors them in any other activity they participate in? God tells us (in both Matthew and Luke) that the student becomes as the teacher – who is teaching your children every day? What is the worldview of the curriculum being used?

      It seems to me, that whether someone plays a game a particular day of the week, or values sports over attending a service, is trivial compared to: whether our children know that math is the language that describes creation to us, that lets us know that God holds it all together in the palm of His hand – that 2+2 always equals 4 because God is faithful; that 2 molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen always makes water because our God is faithful; that the laws of physics were set in place by the Master and are consistent and dependable because He is consistent and dependable. He tells us that creation sings His praises and to “look to the ant and the lily”. When we allow our children to be taught that subjects are neutral, we tell them that God is not a part of every thing in their lives. We are saying, without words, that either God doesn’t exist, or that He is irrelevant to all of these things. Man didn’t create math – he discovered a language and tool that God had put in place at creation. Man didn’t create chemistry or physics either – all of these “neutral” topics point to a creator, tell us of His faithfulness, consistency, dependability and creativity.

      I appreciate the heart’s desire, expressed by so many here, to follow Christ. There has been a lot of good discussion. My intention is not to belittle the issue . . . I just think the issue is so much bigger than sports or whether people attend a service. These issues are symptoms of the disease, but they are not the disease. If we release our children to be taught in a system that purposefully excludes God (and I’m not saying everyone, or even anyone here has done that – I don’t know any of you, I just stumbled across this blog), then does whether they play on Sunday and miss a service really matter? I’ve heard someone say that if you send your children to Roman schools, don’t be surprised if they come out Romans. You can intentionally choose a service over a game, but if at the same time you choose a Godless education/discipleship for every other day of the week, what are you gaining?

  17. jeffp42 says:

    Another angle is simply that none of the above discussed things was intended for our Sabbath day. It is truly a day of rest. We are an exhausted society and a way-too-busy church body. Our Creator was gracious enough to provide our needed remedy through required rest. There were no Sunday sports when I was a kid (I’m 35) so this was never even an option for our family. But I know my father would have never allowed that. I now so appreciate the values that placed in me. As far as the Sabbath and all that is intended for it (worship, family, rest, resetting), I feel that this should be our higher focus rather than just a dilemma between sports vs. church (or any other activity). Are we honoring the Sabbath? If we truly explored what the Sabbath means Biblically, we would easily see an easy confirmation of the author’s stance.

  18. Greg says:

    I have not even looked at other replies, so pardon if my answer ends up being redundant.

    This conundrum is very real in today’s world for parents of kids between the ages of 7-16 (that’s right, 7!). We have a daughter that is now 11, a son that is 8, and another son that is 5. Even at these young ages, we have been approached multiple times by “coaches” and other parents for our two oldest to play travel ball in softball/baseball. One of the teams we turned down for our son included four families from our church, including one of my co-deacons. The “coach” there is also a believer at another church, and the collective promise was to keep the tournaments as close as possible and only play on Sunday afternoons so as not to miss church, and even then only play in 1-2 tournaments per month. My wife and I still, prayerfully, said “no,” citing the fact that we interpret God’s word as Him wanting the ENTIRE day set aside for reflection, praise, and worship to Him, not just what the 21st century church has set aside as times for church to meet.

    As the summer passed, 1-2 tournaments became at least 3 per month. And keeping close (there is a complex 15 minutes from our church) did happen most of the time, but so did playing 70 miles away frequently, 100 miles away twice, and over 400 miles away once (to a self-proclaimed “World Series”). We couldn’t be happier that we said no in the beginning. Instead of ending at the end of July, travel ball became fall ball, going all the way to the end of October. After a month off, Sunday afternoon practices have now started, preparing that team for the season that begins in March. Pretty hefty stuff for a team of soon-to-be 9-year old kids.

    Providing “church” or “devotional” services at the games or tournaments is great. But, are we leaning on that as an excuse for taking our families away from what the Sabbath was created for in the first place? I can’t imagine that four games in one day to win the “championship” was what He had in mind when it was.

    Maybe I’m off. . . wouldn’t be the first time. But, when my kids are in their 20s, I want them to look back and say, “A priority to my parents was that we ___________,” and fill in that blank with the things of God, not “baseball” or “racing” or anything besides the things of God, really. What a challenge for parents today, feeling like their child is getting left behind athletically, but still being firm in our faith. Thank you for addressing this real issue challenging today’s families.

  19. Betty Rinkel says:

    I made that choice for my family when we started one. NO, absolutely nothing else on Sunday or Wednesday night. We were going to be involved in activities helping to know God more. In a lot of places we lived in as a military family, that meant no Boy Scouts, because they met on Wednesday afternoons. I myself am not a rabid sports fan, so sports were not on our horizons.

  20. Liz says:

    You should also keep in mind that “church” doesn’t necessarily mean “going to church on Sunday mornings.” We’re meant to BE the church, and you can do that in any way God makes available to you. Your point of view in this post was quite victimized because you “had no choice due to circumstances” – perhaps you should see yourself more as one who has the opportunity to BE the church in a non-traditional setting. Perhaps this is God telling you “Hey – relax. It’s cool if you don’t go to church every Sunday. Getting perfect attendance on Sundays isn’t the point of this whole thing.”

    Think outside the manmade church box and start looking at the Church as God intended it to be. You’re already a part of it – so just BE.

    • It’s a good point to think outside of the box. I really see the value of the church community(not the building) as the way that God has designed for us to grow in our faith and build relationships that will help us to stay focused and moving toward Jesus. As I am looking at how to guide my own children and those in my church family to an adulthood of knowing and loving Jesus and living their lives in light of that love, connection in the church community is a major tool in the discipleship of myself and my children. I agree that it’s not about perfect church attendance….however, you can’t build relationships and community if you aren’t present fairly consistently.

    • RS Leo says:

      Liz , do you really believe that it is God telling you ” Hey , relax . its cool if you dont go to church every Sunday ” ? It might be a good idea for you to really pray about this .

  21. Kay White says:

    While I realize the article was about the children playing sports and missing church, I’m curious how many families are congregating around the TV and watching all the sports (football for instance) that are shown practically all Sunday long. And, are the professed Christian players wrong for playing on Sunday? I’m not saying the article is wrong, I’m simply curious about this very subject, as I see it as as a factor.

  22. Pingback: Sports vs. Church … | UNDERGROUND Student Ministries

  23. Paul says:

    Children should never be forced to attend Church, it breeds resentment, trying to ban sports on Sundays is both futile and should it ever succeed (which it won’t) it will ruin the opportunity for parents, children and both their friends and families to socially interact on a regular basis.
    I have been a youth worker for 30 years and our members over those 30 years have come from a variety of different faiths, everyone has been welcome to attend any of our activities and we have never once tried to persuade any child (or adult) that one faith is more important than another, not that their is in fact an ultimate God.
    I also work with a charity that works with poor children in an Asian country and we make it crystal clean that we are a secular charity and our help is given unconditionally, at the same time we see many churches / missionary groups working in the country that only help the poor if they are able to then preach the gospel. That alienates many donors to these groups and many are disgusted to the point that they have stopped giving donations to the church groups.
    Trying to convert children to a any different faith other than the faith into which they were born is both repugnant and does nothing to show the church in a good light.

    My own three children attended Sunday school in the UK when they wanted to, they were never forced or coerced into doing so. When they reached adulthood they made their own decisions about religion which we as a family respect. My daughter did some voluntary work in Northern Thailand during a break year and this was organised by a Christian group from Canada, she left disillusioned after two weeks because the group insisted that only the children and adults who sat and listened to the preaching of the gospel and read the scripture cards that were given out received food, unfortunately this is not an isolated incident but one that we have experienced in the country we are working in.

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. I agree that church should not be forced on children. I do believe there is one true God and I love Jesus with all of my heart and my relationship with Christ is everything to me. I desire for my kids to have a relationship with Jesus and to live their lives in light of that love. Not a religion- a relationship. For parents who know and love Jesus, we can and should model and encourage and promote opportunities for our children to develop their own relationship with God. I appreciate your perspective and I’m sad that you have been wounded by people. I also, must agree to disagree on a few points.

    • No one is “born” into a faith. I hear people regularly say they were “born Catholic” or whatever else… but that -really- doesn’t matter. What matters is, now that they can make their own decisions… what do they think now? THAT is what they are.

  24. Jocelyn says:

    My kids are young yet, but we will not be letting our kids participate in sports on Sunday. We decided that a long time ago. I have been very disappointed to see some of the coaches at our local Christian school take students to sporting events on Sundays.
    There is pressure there that you are letting down the other kids on your team if you don’t go – I guess that’s a good teachable moment when you have an opportunity to talk to your kids about what it means to “Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy” – a time to go to church with fellow believers. I’m not saying it will be easy, but we do have the help of some friends who believe the same way we do, so we won’t be the only ones.
    Standing up to society – even the Christian community – is not always easy and often awkward. I hope and pray that my husband and I have the courage and conviction to say something for those parents who are thinking the same as us but not brave enough to say it.

  25. Wisconsin Badger says:

    Of course I agree with this viewpoint for religious reasons. But there’s even more to it…like family. As someone above said, there are six other days in the week to play sports (or any other extra-curricular activities people do). What about just one day a week where a family focuses on each other? Spends time together for no other reason but to regroup and enjoy one another’s company? I believe this is one of the reasons God initiated the Sabboth Day. I believe humans need one day a week to get away from the chaos and take a breath. That day should be with family, not a sports team.

    • Great point. So many of the directives given to us by God in Scripture are “for our own good!” We serve a God who loves us so much that he wants what is best for us and our families….that is the heart behind the command to ‘keep the Sabbath holy’!

    • I think of some youth I know who don’t exactly have much of a family if any. That sports team, for some, is like family. I wonder about the benefit to that family if the world gets a break from Christians being in their groups every Sunday while they make sure they aren’t missing church and “obeying the Sabbath”.

      • DM says:

        How much better would it be for that “youth” if you made them a part of your family and took them to church with you?… You think it would benefit the family to disobey God and stop going to church? This is a concerning statement….

  26. When I was a kid, if I had to miss doing something I loved more than anything else, like a sport, in order to go to church on Sunday… I ended up resenting church. Oddly enough, when I got to my high school years, my parents allowed me to make the decision for myself and never let on to what they wanted. As a result, I was happier going to church. And on the rare occasion I had a game on a Sunday morning, I went to that guilt free. The neat thing is that my faith started becoming more real to me in my teenage years once I was allowed to make it my own and not the prescription of other people.

    It was a major inner conflict for me as a kid when rules were forced on me in a similar way to how the Jewish Christians looked down on the Roman Christians. It’s like the God of the do’s and don’ts of church was not the same God they taught me about in Sunday School. It’s unfortunate, because in my young life, the opinions of the adults in my church mattered a lot to me and did little more than make me feel bad about myself for wanting to be somewhere else. When I finally learned it’s up to me to make my own commitments to God and to the church, I was finally able to focus on a relationship with my savior instead of making sure he doesn’t get mad at me.

    I believe God wants us to make consistent time for him. I think he wants us to have a day to relax and make time for family. I think he wants us to have a community of believers that we are a part of to encourage one another and help build. I don’t think any of this is sacrificed if I play a game on Sunday morning… especially since that is how I relax and refocus and refresh.

    • I really agree with your point of view that church shouldn’t be forced on kids. It is our responsibility as parents to model and encourage the life that we feel we are called to live. For those of us with a relationship with Christ, this includes worshiping, learning, serving, building relationships with others who love Jesus and connecting in our community with those who don’t know Jesus yet. I am not encouraging families to pull out of sports completely or enforce a rule about Sundays(although I see that’s the point of view of many commenters) I believe my families involvement in the sports community is a big part of our purpose. I still want to be very careful that we don’t put anything ahead of our relationship with Christ and inadvertently hinder our children from building relationships with others in their church community that are so important to their own discipleship….especially as they grow through Jr. High and High School.

    • DM says:

      “I don’t think any of this is sacrificed if I play a game on Sunday morning… especially since that is how I relax and refocus and refresh.” I think you may have the wrong idea of what it is all about… Sunday isnt for you to relax refocus and refresh.. in fact sunday isnt about you at all… or me. Its about God obeying him, loving him, and worshiping him the way he has told us to.

      • Joe Howell says:

        DM,

        We are to love the Lord with ALL our strength, with ALL our mind, with ALL our soul, and with ALL our heart, that is everything we are made of, and every day of the week. God requires mercy not sacrifice. Ask Him, what is it that may be in your life that He doesn’t approve of. Christians have become legalistic with it’s view on going to “church” on Sunday. The question should not be should we not play sports and go to church, it should be, what does the rest of my life look like to God? Then let Him show you. This will only happen if we really want to know what God thinks. My relationship with Him is better because I let Him have access to every area of my life, at least I try to do this, we are supposed to be conformed to the likeness of the Son of God. Our whole lives as Christians are to be about glorifying God in every area of our lives, are we so bold as to think we know how to do this without His help or the help of another human? His ways are higher than our ways and they are different than our ways Isaiah 55:8, Jeremiah 31:33-34.

  27. Lynn says:

    Thankfully this was not a big issue for when my children were younger – but had it been, I would imagine if a husband and wife are not on the same page – there would be a hockey fight right at home. !

  28. Steven J. says:

    The problem with religion is that if I choose not to worship the conventional way of sitting in a pew for an hour every Sunday, I am judged by others to not put God first? Who are those fit enough to judge me when you have no idea how I worship my God? If I am on the ballfield with my family, enjoying family time, learning real life lessons of sportsmanship and how to be a good person, couldn’t you argue that is the same reason people go to Church?

    • AD says:

      With all due respect, that is not the view of God’s Word. No, I’m not saying that the Bible says that we MUST sit on a pew on Sunday morning. The Bible does, very clearly, say that we should “…consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

      The point here is that, as Christians, we are supposed to “stir up ONE ANOTHER to love and good works.” How can you encourage someone to love others and do good if you are not around them?

      Missing church occasionally is not a sin. FORSAKING, however, is. To “forsake” means “to abandon.”

  29. CharisMike says:

    Can they skip church to play video games? Chutes and Ladders? A game is a game right? They have video game tournaments. What if little Johnny skipped Sunday school to play video games but showed up for the worship service while little Suzy skipped it all for a soccer tournament? Who would get more eyebrow raises?

  30. Aaron says:

    On the other hand, I think there is another cultural shift at play here. Ask your self this, why were we all at the soccer fields on Sunday to begin with? More specifically, why are there so many parents, kids, etc out and about in the name of sports? We have become a culture obsessed with and addicted to the idea of sports. I think it it time for us, especially as Christians, to consider that the balance of time management specific to sports is way off. Sports are good however, to what end?

      • margarett says:

        were 3 or more are gathered could have had worship on the sideline, before or after the game. I am part of a small group. We believe you can worship and learn anywhere any time.

    • I too share your opinion of sports being good, but to what end. A co-worker whose daughter was very involved in volleyball and I were discussing this. Her comment was such; we had hoped that by playing at these advanced levels she might get a scholarship to play. She did to a smaller college but I’ve added up everything we spent from special shoes, registration fees to travel expenses and we could have paid for her college. But no, she got a scholarship, a student loan debt and we got a whole lot less family time. A good question to ask when looking at a league or tournament is where is the money going? A lot of these “must do” activities are making someone money.

  31. Mark says:

    As a young person I spent a good deal of time attending a different church from my parents, they had decided for their own reasons to attend a larger church across town, but as a twelve year old I felt out of place and uncomfortable. So one morning I announced that I would be attending our old church up the street and would not be returning to their new church. It would be a lie if I where to tell you that at twelve I was making a mature and calm decision about my spirituality and putting God first. I simply did not like the new church the new drive or the new Sunday school and so I rebelled. My parents to my surprise and my continued appreciation allowed it on the condition that I was attending and that I was accepting responsibility for my faith. At first I was required to bring home bulletins and I am sure in retrospect that they checked up on me with their friends who still attended but honestly they needn’t have. Two things got me to church almost every Sunday through out my teen years, the satisfaction of being empowered by my parents to walk my own path and a youth group that was genuinely a high point of my week (probably both just the Holy Spirit). There where weeks I missed, I experimented with ditching, I went on ski trips, but for the most part I put church at the forefront on Sundays and those priorities became part of life the rest of the week as well. Now seventeen years later I am a regular member and youth leader, my fiancé and I are planning a wedding at our church where God willing we will one day raise our kids.
    In my ministry as a youth leader I try first and foremost to be open to God and secondly to foster an environment which is genuine and welcoming for our youth, because it was those qualities that got me out of bed and to church when I was a young person. In the future as we plan to raise our own children I am reminded that at some point regardless of our actions our children will have to walk their own path and that it will be my job to teach them how to find it.
    The reason I’ve taken the time to relate this story is to ask a question that nagged at me as I was reading about the perspective of your child? I’m not sure of the age but do they know how conflicted you feel have you asked them about what they think? It is my experience as an educator that children of all ages will surprise you eventually if you continue to ask them what they think. Also the greatest influence on my faith was nightly prayer and blessings, I may have missed church from time to time but we said the Lords Prayer and blessed each other every night until I went to college.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it. And to answer your question, yes- we did talk about it quite a bit with our kids (the one I was with that day is 13) and my kids(the others are 11 and 9) gave input into the post as I was writing it. I completely agree that kids need to have input on decisions and take responsibility for their faith…my role as a parent and church leader is to model and create environments and opportunities to experience the presence and power of God. Thanks for sharing and best of luck as you begin your family life.

  32. Rev. Sara says:

    I am sympathetic with the challenges here. I am a pastor and a parent. We’ve declined some activities because of what they’d mean for our family life. I also know that there are times when we will be flexible about such things. I am greatly appreciative of the difficulties and the honest sharing here, as well as the efforts that families make to live in a way that reflects their commitments and convictions.

    I’d like to raise one other issue here:

    I wonder what this means for our brothers and sisters who have other holy days. If you live in an area with Jews and Christians, for example, would doing unto others as you would have done unto you require no sports on Saturdays or Sundays? Most Muslims have a special time of prayer on Friday, with many refraining from work the rest of the day (though this is not uniformly true of Islam). If a team has members from those three Abrahamic faiths, what is a coach to do? What does it mean to be a loving neighbor in such circumstances?

  33. Sonya says:

    We could also say this very thing about the attendance on Wednesday services! We are a traveling baseball family and this is something we have struggled with over our 15+ years doing this! Since my husband is the coach we have been able to put something’s into actions that helps us! We only travel twice a month instead of every weekend! We offer devotions every Sunday that we are on a field! We pray with the boys and families keeping the focus on Christ! We fellowship with our families through a once a month get together. Our family attends church every Wednesday along with as many functions with the church as possible! I also lead ladies bible studies! This is what God has called us to do as a family! So please understand that just because a family misses a Sunday service doesn’t mean they are not focused on Christ! The best thing is for a family to seek The Lord themselves to see exactly how God would use you if sports are apart of your life! God will use all means to further His kingdom and will use all who are obedience to Him!

    • Thank you for sharing. Great job making decisions on purpose. You are doing exactly what I am encouraging families to do…make decisions on purpose! Good job ensuring that relationships are staying current through other means during sports seasons. I have seen too many families who haven’t put the thought that you have into it and without meaning to loose touch with their church family and their relationships with God due to lack of prioritizing.

  34. Anna Bartell says:

    Love this article. It’s such a struggle out here in in New England. Soccer tournaments are every Saturday and Sunday if you play on the elite teams.. My husband’s father never let any of his 4 Children miss church for sports and my husband still was the starting quarterback for his HS football team. We will be the same with our four kids.
    I agree that it is important for them to be in fellowship with other Christians and also teach them where our commitment lies. Nothing shows our kids more than our actions and if we choose sports over church then we’re telling them that its more important. You have a commitment to your team but you also have a commitment to your church…you can do a bible study at the field but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re seat is empty at your church. You never know if that empty church was a turn off for the person who walked through the doors for the first time or if you could’ve welcomed someone but you weren’t there. You have a responsibility to your church to be there too…it’s not just a service that’s provided for you whenever you feel like being there.

  35. Kristin says:

    Aren’t there any churches in your town with services at different times that you could use as a backup when there’s a conflict like this? If you and the other families from your church could go together to a different church on Saturday afternoons prior to Sunday games, it might be both fun and a chance for all to grow in faith.

  36. Patty h. says:

    We are the parents of 2 girls, both having played club/tournament travel ball. When they were 14 – under we didn’t play on Sundays because we felt they needed to be in church to build their foundation. At 14+ we felt as though they were grounded enough in their faith to survive playing on Sundays. We believe that going to church alone doesn’t make you a Christian. Its the relationship with God. We also made sure they didn’t play for teams that practiced on Wednesdays since that was their typical Awana, youth, etc night. They are now 21 & 17. They chose to attend Christian universities. As for the sacrifice being worth it….yes! Our daughter has been blessed with talent & is in the 2% to play ball at the college level. She signed her NLI in November! You shouldn’t have to choose. If you keep God first, everything else will work out. He just wants a relationship & where or when that takes place doesn’t matter.

    • I really appreciate your comment of keeping God first and everything else will work out. I agree that relationship with Jesus is what it’s all about. For our family, I feel that the support and relationships that my kids find in the church community are very important to their discipleship and relationship with Jesus and become more important the older they get. I’m glad to hear your girls are doing so well. Thank you for sharing from your experience.

  37. Genny says:

    As a long-time coach, I have refused to practice or participate in tournaments on Sunday. I also believe that sports should have a season, giving kids time to explore other activities and to rest sport specific muscles and joints, so I do not advocate playing the same sport year round either. With that being said, I have had many parents pressure me to both play on Sunday and coach year round. This results in kids’ priorities being skewed from a young age. If the pressure to excel in one sport is all they feel from the beginning, what are they missing out on during their childhood?

  38. Lynnette says:

    I opened this article thinking here we go again, another person telling us we are wrong for letting our child play traveling basketball and missing 3 Sundays out of the year. I don’t necessarily think you are telling us we are wrong, but I also know that we wouldn’t change our decision ever. I do believe church is to help you grow spiritually but I truly believe that our children’s growth starts at home. If you are grounded in faith at home first, missing a few Sundays a year won’t devastate your child’s commitment to the church. I believe that forming those strong ties with your church family happen not only at church but also in the small groups that meet each week, etc. My children know that if we are not able to meet with pur church family those 3 Sundays, we will be attending a Saturday night service at a church in the city we are at. I know people may not agree with our decision to miss those 3 services but I also know where my children’s hearts are and one wants to be a youth minister when they grow up and the other a social worker. I’m pleased with how they have turned out and the deep friendships they have formed with our church family. We make it a point to show them that church is important all the other times we attend, even when their mom (me) is fighting a horrible migraine…..which happens a lot. We are still there on those Sundays. Teaching them what is important at home is most important.

    • Great job establishing the spiritual disciplines and the priorities for your family. Thank you for sharing your ideas on how to maintain connection and relationships with your church family and having fun and growing through the experience of basketball. So many don’t give it that much thought….that’s what I was going after with this post…I want families to make their decisions on purpose!

    • Oh, and I’m so sorry you struggle with migraines. That must be so miserable. Praying for healing and relief!

    • Guy Caley says:

      Might an even better path in this situation be to gather for worship right there? Tell the coach “Sure, we’ll do that but 20 minutes before game time you’ll need to stop the pregame practice so those who wish can join together for a worship service.” Perhaps even those who don’t normally go to church would join in and it could be an evangelism opportunity. It communicates the importance of worship and allows you to live it out in the world rather than sheltering it in a church building. I know it’s a different situation, but when my wife and I were in China for our adoption, that’s exactly what we did with the families we were with, and invited everyone to come.

    • Diana Davis says:

      Unfortunately many families who claim to be working on this at home are the very same ones who sit on the sidelines yelling and screaming in ways that totally dishonor God. It is, of course their choice, but it also becomes the reason Christians are labeled hypocrites.

  39. Melanie says:

    We have three adult children and have dealt with these decisions for decades. I would encourage parents to make courageous decisions that exhibit “true choice,” realizing that there always IS a choice to make, although sometimes difficult. Each choice has its benefits and costs. Disappoint the right people.

  40. sarahtunes says:

    I think you’ve done a fantastic job of writing this post, inviting feedback while sharing that you’re in the process of navigating this season, and gracefully and humbly responding to folks who are stating some pretty obvious disagreements that I’m sure you’re already wrestling through. I have 3 young kids, and we aren’t in that season quite yet, but having the conversation is so important. Thank you for writing this! Blessings on you as you humbly trek through these decisions. I pray that others will take note and follow your lead and humbly and graciously join you in the conversation. ~ Sarah

  41. BKS says:

    I coach a girls travel fastpitch team and decided that I would take church to the ball field on Sundays and share the word through devotional!We have found after 7 years that there are alot of folks at the ball field we can reach that otherwise wouldn’t hear about our Saviour Jesus Christ!

  42. There’s also the issue of taking a Sabbath. Not to be legalistic, but we have been given a day of rest by God for our benefit. After all, the Creator of the universe says we need a day of rest each week. What other day of the week will it be? It’s one thing to have a fun pick-up game on a Sunday afternoon with your neighbors, but it’s another to be committed to an organized sport.

    There are churches in other parts of the world that must worship on days other than Sunday. Most churches in Western culture gather for corporate worship on more than just Sunday morning, although their primary corporate worship is on Sunday. Nonetheless, if your primary contact with your church is on Sunday morning, you aren’t doing church right. Being a church is more than Sunday morning. Being a Christian happens all week long.

    So the issue isn’t that we have to always gather on Sunday. The issue is that we need the discipline of being an active part of our local church, which includes worshipping together as well as Sabbathing. The fundamental conflict, therefore, is between the discipline of the sport and the discipline of our spiritual life. When the discipline of one’s sport becomes greater than the discipline of one’s spiritual life, one exchanges worship of the true God for the worship of a false god. At that point, intentionally not obeying the command to Sabbath and forsaking the gathering of the saints becomes a breaking of the command to have no gods before Yahweh.

  43. Mike says:

    I love your warning at the beginning about making folks uncomfortable. As a parent of two sports oriented sons, a coach for over 20 years and a Christian, I have witnessed the change in attitude on this subject. Not long ago there were no Sunday events that took us away from church. Our oldest son grew up in the era of playing two nights a week with another night of practice, played 3 months a year and that was his season. By the time our youngest came along, the season was 8 months a year and weekend tournaments were becoming a big thing. Whether the decisions we made as parents are right or wrong should not be up for judgement by anyone except God. Far too many times in our lives we find that Christians judge each other and the outside world. This judgement creates walls that God did not put up, we put the up as “Christians”.
    I find it interesting that while sports families are somewhat condemned for not being in the building every single Sunday, that pastors, youth leaders, music ministers and deacons that miss multiple Sundays are not put through the same ringer as the sports families. It’s perfectly acceptable for a pastor to miss 12 Sundays a year in today’s church because of conferences, mission trips, guest preaching at other churches and vacation time. At the same time, it is a sin for a soccer parent, baseball parent or whatever sport parent to miss the same number of services.
    I am a coach that believes very strongly that the mission fields are not just in foreign countries. They are around us everywhere. The opportunity to lead by example and show the world that God loves everyone and that Jesus died for ALL of us cannot be shown to those that might never enter the “building”. Every Sunday that our team plays we have a time of devotion and prayer at a set time at the facility. All of our parents and players know we are doing it and those that choose to attend are welcome. The tournament directors also know we are doing it and we invite all players, parents and coaches that will be at the facility to attend with us. We have had “services” with as few as 4 or as many as 75 attending. After every single game we play, whether we win or lose, we thank God for giving us the opportunity to be examples to the world through the talents He has given us.
    Whether I am a sinner because of my belief that church is us and not a building, only God can judge. But as I do my Bible study and prayer time, I have never felt that God wanted something different from me.

    • I don’t remember writing anywhere calling anyone a sinner for playing sports on Sunday or passing judgement. I apologize if you read it that way. My intent was to encourage families to think through their schedule and priorities. You obviously have already done that and if you feel your families schedule reflects your priorities, you’re doing great!

      I agree with you that our mission field is everywhere we are. Our family has made decisions to be part of city leagues and public school to build relationships with those who don’t know Christ on purpose. Our sports commitments are part of our discipleship journey.

      May God bless your family and your teams🙂

    • Rev. Phillip says:

      It’s perfectly acceptable for a pastor to miss 12 Sundays a year in today’s church because of conferences, mission trips, guest preaching at other churches and vacation time. At the same time, it is a sin for a soccer parent, baseball parent or whatever sport parent to miss the same number of services.

      As a Pastor, if I missed more than 2 Sundays a year, I would not expect to have a congregation to preach to. If i was not the Pastor, if my Pastor missed that much time, I would have to evaluate that church and possibly find another church family.

      The Scriptures tell us in Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

      The question then needs to be, “Are we gathered at the ball field in His name?” Otherwords when we gather togher in Christ’s name, He is there. There is only one place on earth that people gather in His name, and that is church. Honestly, people do not gather at the ball field for Christ, but for Little Johnny. People gather at church for Christ.

      Don’t get me wrong, a group can have church on the ball field, if that is the reason they are gathered there in the first place. Our church has held services at our lcal high school football field, but no sports were involved. We gathered there for that reason only.

  44. Kevin says:

    Are you teaching yourself and your children to love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength by spending your Sundays at sports fields? The Christian life is all about SURRENDER of our will to God’s will. It’s tough to surrender. That’s why following Jesus is the absolute hardest thing anyone could ever attempt to do. And that’s why it’s not popular. And that’s why more people are on the wide road to destruction than the narrow road to eternal life. And that’s why many people on the wide road don’t even realize they’re on it. And that’s also why many people who truly are Christians are making little to no impact on God’s Kingdom – because they refuse to surrender daily to Jesus.

  45. Ellen says:

    I am a mom of 3 young adults now. I can say for me and my husband we always encouraged our kids to play some kind of sport. We felt it was a good way to learn to work with others on a specific goal and learn about being loyal to a team. In other words if you join a team then you stick with that team to the finish and you don’t quit. We also tried to teach them that church should come first and if there was room after that for something then that was fine. Here were our rules for deciding on if our child would play on a team or not. If the games were mostly on Saturday’s or another day of the week except Sunday then it was a good fit. I know today that is very hard to find, was a little easier 10 years ago. We were not against having a game on a Sunday as a rare event. If the games were mostly all on Sunday then it was not a good fit. Two examples from my boys. Our oldest wanted to play football for his Middle School. He went to a few practices and found out that he had to be at practice every Wednesday evening and that meant he would have to quit Awana at church on Wednesday nights. We told him to pray about it and then tell us what he thought he should do. I am so glad that he decided that football was not more important than Awana. Our younger son was asked to be on the Bowling team for his High School and after finding out that all Bowling events were on Sunday mornings and early afternoon and most of the afternoon games were far away he decided it was not a good fit. I am very proud of our boys for those decisions and excited to see that they and their sister all have a close relationship with Christ in fact one of our sons now serve in Awana working with the young boys there. This is all God and I give him the glory for it all.

    • Thank you for your example and encouragement. Great job guiding your kids as they learned how to make decisions.

    • Mike says:

      Ellen, congratulations on your boys’ being able to make the decisions and being mature enough to make those decisions without parental or peer pressure. Those are not easy decisions to make at young ages. Seldom do parents allow their children to make such decisions without guiding those decisions.
      In a world where we, as Christians applaud our brothers and sisters like Tim Tebow, Kurt Warner, Ryan Vogelsong and others, we must also realize that without sports we would not know who they are. More importantly we must realize that their message of God and His love would not be as widely known if it wasn’t for their participation in athletics.
      As a Christian, a dad and a coach, I wish games were never played on Sundays. I also wish stores and restaurants were not open on Sundays and that the world was such a good place that police and firemen didn’t have to work on Sundays. But such is not the case.
      I also pray that our Christian family would remember to hate the sin and not the sinner as we see others in the world. Almost all Christians, including myself, jumped on the bandwagon for Phil Robertson in the A&E debacle. What Mr. Robertson said was 100% Biblical. Unfortunately the way it was said and the way it was read by millions, turned a lot of people off from hearing what God intended. It is through love and respect that we bring people to know Jesus Christ, not through words that hurt. Mr. Robertson is a lot like my grandfather. He says what he means, but coming from a different era and mindset, the words do not always translate well.

      @Kevin, yes sir I believe I am teaching exactly what God wants me to teach and teaching it to those that need to hear. The Bible in every translation I have seen says that it is our purpose to take the Gospel to every corner of the earth. My words and actions are His.

      @familydiscipleshippath, I did not mean to indicate that you were being judgmental. My comment came from reading other posts on your board, similar to Kevin’s. It is easy to sit in a pew every Sunday and say we have done our part. Until we have the strength to say yes to what God has called each of us to do, we will never really know what the other’s shoes feel like.

      What I also find interesting is that in these conversations that have been going on for several years as a hot topic, not one single time, on any board or discussion has ANY of my Christians brothers or sisters asked how many young people or parents have come to know Christ through God’s work on the field.

      Do we ever wonder why people don’t listen to us or His message? Maybe it’s because we don’t listen ourselves to them. Folks the day is coming where Jesus will be coming back. It is time to get out there, get dirty and take the message to the masses. It’s time to take the Word to them where they are, because they aren’t coming to us.

      Sorry Mrs. Blog Writer, it was not my intention to get on a soapbox or back in the pulpit today. But condemnation because we don’t agree with an idea is what has kept us from reaching the folks we should be reaching, the ones right here in our own communities!

      • Mike says:

        Mrs. Blogger, are you seeing the condemnation from our brothers and sisters yet? If this was a debate over a political topic or a statement by an actor or athlete, there would be no blinders worn and everyone would easily see the true situation. We seem to have a lot of Christians that think that Sunday is the Lord’s day, but the other 6 are less important. There also seems to be a fairly strong belief that the “church” consists of 4 walls and a pulpit. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord every day wherever we are. And that includes outside on a ball field.
        I wonder how many of the posters had an issue with Tim Tebow or Kurt Warner being on ball fields on Sundays. Or how many had issues with Ryan Vogelsong being on a pitcher’s mound on Sundays. How about the thousands of other Christian athletes that our kids look up to? I would guess that the number would be extremely small. Where do folks think that they developed their skills? It certainly wasn’t in a rec ball game on Tues. night.
        For anyone that has seen our teams on the field, there is no doubt we are there to be competitive and play the game. But more importantly there is no doubt that we are there as representatives of our Lord and Savior too. Visit our home field, see the Bible verses in our dugout, attend one of our Bible studies after practice and then judge if you must. More importantly, come watch one of our players witness with joy to a friend or an opponent. Watching a 12 -14 year old share the gospel and talk about what Jesus means to them is something that is amazing.

        As Christians we wonder why we cannot reach more of the world. Could it be that we are spending far more time judging others than we are in prayer, study and truly developing our own personal relationship with the One that saved us? Is it any wonder the world sees us as hypocrites?

        • Tammy says:

          Your comment mirrored exactly what I was thinking as I read this article and many of the subsequent comments. We have been in the ministry for 20 years and have, until recently, been very judgmental in our thinking toward anyone who missed a service because of a ball game. Then, it hit me one day. How many times, from the pulpit, have I heard about what a wonderful, godly testimony this football player, that baseball player, this football coach, etc. has. They are true role models for our kids to look up to. Not that I disagree, but how did they get to where they are now? They most definitely missed services to play or coach ball. They still do, in fact! Many pro games are on Sundays. I completely understand that missing church on a regular basis can be detrimental to you, or your child’s spiritual growth, but we can’t have it both ways. I think a good question to ask yourself is…do the other team mates or their families see Jesus in me? Am I being a witness wherever I am?

    • Jeremy says:

      great example.

  46. My older sons played travel ball for a couple of years. Our rule going into it & we were very open & clear about it with the coach. We would be there all day on Saturday, but Sunday we would attend church as a family & play ball after that. The coach was very understanding & we never had a problem with it. I think the main thing is to be open with the coaches & with your children the reasons behind your decision. Our children knew that attending church, as a family was important to us. We did not allow a sport to be put in front of God.

    You have said it well. I think many families probably believe & feel just as you have said, but they don’t want to be the “bad guy”. Church has lost its importance in lives. Parents think that this will only be a “season” of missing church, not realizing that if the love of attending church isn’t established early, then many won’t see it as important. Regardless of what people think, you can’t really worship God on a ball field…generally most fans are further from Him in their actions & attitude while there.

  47. Elizabeth says:

    As someone who grew up in the church I have seen this “issue” countless times. I had friends at church who weren’t there every Sunday because they had a game that day, or a game the day before and were too tired to go to church (that’s what they told us). When I was younger I never understood why church wasn’t a priority to other families like it was for ours. I remember asking my parents over and over why so and so wasn’t in Sunday School again.

    My younger sister and I were both involved with the musical arts programs at school. Not athletics I know but we still had competitions on weekends and sometimes wouldn’t get back until the wee hours of the morning. And even though we were tired from performing the day before and only got a few hours of sleep, my parents made sure we were at church on time. Of course, there was grumbling on our part at the time because we were teenagers and never wanted to do what our parents told us🙂 But I am so thankful that our parents “made” us go because it helped to instill the importance of putting God first in our lives…even when we don’t “feel” like it. Yeah we were tired but it was nice seeing everyone and having people asking us how we did, where we placed, etc. It showed us that our church family cared about us and were excited to celebrate with us!

    My husband and I don’t have children of our own yet but I am sure this topic will come up! Church has been a huge priority in our lives, both individually and in our marriage, and we hope to be able to teach this to our future children. We want our children to be involved with extracurricular activities, whether sports or the arts or both, but we want them to understand that God comes first every time. Even if that means having to make sacrifices sometimes.

  48. Burton Staggs says:

    we’ve handled it simply. We are the church, the building isn’t.
    Arrive early/ Stay late and have service before/ after…

  49. Lworship says:

    One I don’t have any children. So for children, so I
    My ability to really say too much other than what I have observed. One I haven’t seen this occasional thing that is being referenced. I think the point is not just sports but all extracurricular activities are now being scheduled it seems on Sunday. And as for sports, it is not short term. You have a sport a season, one is done and you move on to the next one. Or maybe you have a local soccer team,then you have travel soccer. Then you move on to volleyball, or another sport. Or another curricular activity. I just don’t see this occasional Sunday, I see it goes for months. I don’t think anyone here is saying just don’t miss church. But it also seems to be some are so quick to defend missing church and calling it judgmental or questioning this idea of sing if you don’t attend church…that they are almost saying church isn’t important.

    There is a point that it affects your witness. new Christian see
    That you are never there, so why should any of this be important for them. it also means a select few people have to carry more of the burden at church, because when people are gone for weeks on end, there are things that simply must get done so a few people have to do the all. it means the kids know when the adults aren’t there. The youth know when the adults aren’t there. And they also know when things are disorganized and chaotic because there aren’t people there to help. So they don’t come back eventually either. I don’t know maybe church attendance doesn’t matter. I have better things I could do two or three Sundays out of a month. Maybe the only person that needs to be there is the pastor. Maybe they are the only person that needs to do anything. Maybe, when it says in Hebrews do to “not neglect meeting together as some are in a habit of doing” it really isn’t the command that it sounds like. maybe asking God’S people to come together just one time , just one time, and thank him for making them a family through his blood is just too much and just not what God expected. I have seen many people say they are too busy, or they have to be here and there. I have only seen one little girl tell her show choir director she couldn’t participate because she had church. But she doesn’t come much anymore, because all the youth leaders had extracurricular things to do so no adult was ever there. And couldn’t find anyone who could be there. So well she is not there much anymore now. maybe there is not anything wrong with missing occasionally everyone does that. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling whatever group you have that you have church occasionally. But we don’t, I guess cause we would not be allowed to participate if we missed? it seems to be there is so many defensive reactions here that there must be some truth to what is being said.

  50. I believe that this is one of the reasons that we see a big generation gap in worship services across America. We have taught our children that it is okay to put other things including sports before the worship of our Savior. It may start as sport but as the child grows into young adulthood the example has been set and it changes to —— (fill in the blank). Hebrews 10:25 the term forsake means to abandon or cast aside. While I understand that we can worship anywhere I also know that based on the word of God, He finds glory in and and through the His church..Ephesians 3:21. The are hundreds of Scriptures that speak of the importants of worshipong together and the importants of church. I cant help but believe 100% of the Word! Im an all or nothing kind of girl. Suffer the little children to come unto Me…. It was important to Christ so I think it is too!

  51. Janell says:

    Good article and reminder of what is important. I think you have to find balance. As a Mom of a sport loving daughter, we encourage her to attend 1 service a week with the youth group whether that be Sunday School Wednesday evening or any other time they meet. We also attended a nearby church last summer during Softball season on Saturday evenings when we knew we would have a Sunday tournament. My husband and I sometimes trade off attending Sunday games so one of us can be in our own worship service. It doesn’t replace being with your own church family but it is definitely better than not having a community worship time set aside at all.

  52. Earline Gualdoni says:

    Great article. Our son swims from fall to spring so it’s more than one Sunday here and there. This is his 3 year on the team and we’ve struggled with this every year. This year we’ve decided to scale back and only swim the Saturday sessions of the meets. With the exception being both days now and then. Each family has to search it out and do what works for them. With swim it easier to make that decision. What we have to think about is relays and when we choose not to participate sometimes 3 others miss out on a relay. But these selections of events are made ahead of time so that makes it easier. Many of our families are Christians and we’ve talked among each other and this is working for us in this season.

  53. Ben W. says:

    Church is the body of believers not the building you go to once a week. If you saw other families there on Sunday, why not take advantage of this time of fellowship with other believers, then break bread together afterwards at a meal you could even have bible study sometime during the weekend of the tournament and have worship together and that is church🙂 You could even invite parents and players that are unchurched and this would be a great way to outreach and spread the gospel.

  54. Dane says:

    My family had a policy with the coach before the season started that if he or the league scheduled a Sunday sporting event (during church) that I (the player) would not be there. This placed the coach and the league on notice. Now for us as a family we were athletic and competitive, and very good at what we did, so the coach knew that if he scheduled a Sunday game he would lose one of the team’s best players🙂 So leverage never hurt. Out of principle – my family (and now my children) will not be missing church for soccer, baseball, football or basketball (I might make an exception Badminton – kidding). I will be involved with my kids and the league to help resolve these conflicts; to find ways around the problems of finding a venue that is available (Sundays seem to be available). Sunday mornings can be protected. I believe in “win win” situations. Who says games have to be played in the morning? Now I know weekend trips and travel enter into the picture, and if these are rare, I see those more as vacations (so I’m not that legalistic), but weekly events dominate the weekends, and I have seen over time this hurt entire Christian family in many ways, that a soccer games is not worth. I believe God will honor those who do take a stand for their convictions. If enough Christian families state upfront that their child will not play on Sunday mornings – this problem may correct itself in time. In studying church history, the Jews under Roman rule (BC), were unbending in what they believed to be their convictions, that Rome actually changed its policies to adapt to these convictions – even had Jewish rulers doing the governing. It was stated that Rome only did this for the Jews (no other cultures held to their convictions like the Jews did), because the Jews were to unyielding. Regardless of the fact that the Jews were under the “Law”, that is not the point, so please don’t go there🙂 This is just a great historical illustration of people “growing some”, and standing up to the pop culture, and God honoring those who stand up for what they believe. As an adult, who played sports at a high level, and am very competitive, I value today my worship more than a dumb football game🙂 Go Ducks!🙂

    • Dane says:

      I would add that my family only held to this personal conviction for Sunday worship. Midweek sports, if it pulled us away, and it rarely did, was an exception, because we were a sports family we gained a lot of leadership and maturity development from sports. God never took a back seat. Sometimes having midweek services on days that do not conflict with a school schedule help, but not always. Churches do this all the time, in offering worship services on Saturdays, and Sundays for families to have options. Adults who are a part of home small groups pick the best nights for them – so mid-week services – outside of Sundays, should not be a part of the same formula IMHO🙂

  55. Sara says:

    I’m a pastors wife. How would our congregation feel if I was missing on Sundays (or Wed night) for the purpose of allowing one or more of my 7 kids to participate in games (or whatever activity I chose) instead of church?
    I guarantee people would fuss about it.
    It stinks that more people wont take a stand. For multiple reasons. My boys are great ball players. They miss so much of the season sometimes because we won’t let it come before our commitment to church. I know my son has not been picked on a team because he’s the preachers son who won’t play Wed nights.
    I appreciated your post and shared it on my page! I hope it challenges parents.

    • Dane says:

      I appreciate you views and I share a lot of it. This is the tough part of being in, and sharing in our husbands leadership – in leadership – we loose our rights, and have to deal with being an example, but, as for my kids, if in High school, and they play basketball at a high level (not riding the pine), I will be at their games on Wednesday nights, and we will find a another day to hold a midweek service. I know my people – and they will applaud my commitment. Sundays are another animal.

  56. weiland2009 says:

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? Sunday sport’s practice – perhaps the ideal time to smarten up the temple.

  57. Karyn says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal conflict on this. I’ve struggled with it myself. I was really surprised that some of the responses here interpreted what you wrote as judgmental and were so critical of you, but I was even more surprised at your gracious and not defensive replies. Thanks for that great example!

  58. Jean Burden says:

    I just said these words to a friend this past week. I am one of those parents that wish I could go back and do things differently. It’s not even about standing up for church; it’s about keeping your family connected to God and others who love Him, surrounding your children with the joy of living for Him. It is the only thing that wins against the troubles the world will throw at our children.

  59. Rob Lively says:

    Matthew 18:20
    1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)
    20 For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.

    How about leading a devotion time before/after or during breaks in playing. Remember the chief end of humanity is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. A topic could be; Is your sportsmanship glorifying God?

  60. Kevin says:

    People have forgotten what it means to be a member of a church – not the universal church, but a local church. Christians are to be a functioning part of a local church. A great little book on the subject is “I Am A Church Member” by Thom Rainer. It crosses denominational lines. Here are the Chapter titles: I Will Be A Functioning Church Member; I Will Be A Unifying Church Member; I Will Not Let My Church Be About My Preferences and Desires; I Will Pray For My Church Leaders; I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members; I Will Treasure Church Membership As A Gift.
    If your local church consists of the Christian families you play sports with every week, that’s great. Somebody serve as the pastor and let that be your local church. Support one another. Give to one another. Hold each other accountable. Disciple each other. Worship together weekly. Perform funerals for your loved ones who die. Perform weddings for your family members. Etc. But if that’s NOT your local church, you’re missing out on all of those things every time you’re not at your own church, and just as importantly, everybody at your local church is missing out on what you have to offer, on what God has called you to do as a part of that local church, your spiritual giftedness, your encouragement, your witness, etc.
    There’s no excuse for a Christian to fail to be an active, functioning part of a local church. That’s not opinion unless you consider Scripture to be optional. Local churches are struggling to even survive, and countless Christians are flocking to mega-churches where nobody notices if they’re there weekly or not. We shouldn’t even wonder why Christianity’s influence in America has dwindled and we no longer resemble a nation that’s based on Christian principles. It starts at home, and since it’s not happening in so many homes, the trickle-down effect is tremendously awful.

  61. stephanie says:

    I love this article.. I think it makes great points. My family and I are faithful in going ot church. we do not miss it and will not for any other idol. My kids do Martial arts for 6 years now and never have to miss wednesday or sunday church or even youth service!

  62. Alison says:

    As a child, I was the kid who only attended church when I wasn’t playing sports. I played school softball, basketball, and volleyball, as well as travel softball and volleyball (whew!). However, I don’t believe it was my lack of church going that made my faith so weak throughout my childhood. My parents didn’t make God a priority in the home. We prayed before meals and they asked me what I learned in church when we went and that was it. Thankfully God led me to a Christian University where I played volleyball on full scholarship and my faith in God was restored. However, I definitely can’t say the same for my younger sister. I definitely think church is important and my husband and I will cross that bridge when we have children. But I’m going to focus more on living out the gospel in my daily life so that my children can see Jesus outside the church building. I also coach volleyball at that Christian University and thankfully they have a no practice/play policy for Sundays. God bless!

  63. Diann Bomer says:

    If you are there with “20 others,” perhaps that is an opportunity to have church together before the game. You show up or meet 20 minutes (or whatever) earlier for your own worship as a group. The main lesson to your children is priority of worship — not WHERE you worship. …. And imagine the witnessing opportunity!

    • Thank you- that is a good idea. A few others have commented with the same thoughts. On that particular day the families I mentioned were spread across several different fields, teams and times. Many of them I didn’t know about until after the fact when I saw postings on FB.(gotta love it) However, my conflict is more based on the bigger picture and not this one day and one situation. I think having a small service on the field with others is a great witness and a good option on the rare occasion. However, it doesn’t replace the community that a church family provides. In my experience kids and youth benefit greatly from friends that they consistently worship and connect with through a church community. This will give them the support system(along with their family and parents) that is so needed to transition through childhood and the teenage years with a growing relationship with Jesus.

  64. gingy55 says:

    I’m reminded of the movie Chariots of Fire as I read your post. I’d love to post on a couple of my blogs if you don’t mind.

  65. Liz says:

    I did not read all the comments, so this may have been touched upon already. I grew up in a rural community. Each year the county fair took over one whole week of our local families’ lives. There was the opportunity to gather together on Sunday morning at the fair grounds for a worship service. The 20 families that were at that soccer tournament could have gathered together for an impromptu Worship Service, even a short prayer. Or sat together in fellowship. There is nothing in the Bible that demands we sit in a church building every Sunday.

  66. prunable says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you!! My children are now 26 and 22, but I started seeing this problem about 13 years ago. We took a stand, giving up a place on a traveling soccer team (traveled on Sundays), only to have a family member’s child take our daughter’s place! Parents (and grandparents) NEED to take a stand to put their children’s spiritual growth first…and put sports, popularity and other worldly things second. Pastors also need to NOT be afraid of how their congregation will respomd to accountabilty efforts. I was once told by a mother “I don’t think my children would forgive me if I told them they had to choose VBS over summer baseball”. Broke my heart that’s she chose baseball for her kids. but know this breaks God’s heart more!

  67. larry schuitema says:

    My church has a very strong Wednesday night service 6 o’clock meal for all the family followed by bible study in the sanctuary and prayer. Real bible study not just lite verse and story

  68. Annette Bowditch says:

    Great article. For my family, we missed many Sundays in church b/c of sports tournaments. We could have chosen church every Sunday (I would’ve LOVED no sports events on Sundays!) but this was our reality. If my daughter missed these tournaments, she would’ve been off the team. Soccer didn’t define who she was but it was a large but of her life. We did our best to do “mid week church” whenever possible (church activities and gatherings). In addition, worshipping Jesus is a 24-7 thing so she knew early on that going to that building every Sunday was only a part of what being a Christian is. She went on to college with a strong Passion for Christ and involvement in Christian activities. And yes, missed Sunday church sometimes b/c she was on the college soccer team! More importantly, she learned the value of being the light of Christ in some dark places. This was our personal decision. It took great effort and we DID tell her that in “a perfect world” we wouldn’t have to choose. By missing church on Sunday, we weren’t saying “soccer is more important that God” we were saying let’s play for God’s glory! I understand that it appears that our priorities were wrong, but God knows our hearts. Our daughter may have resented it had we made her give up soccer (she would’ve been off of the team if she didn’t attend tourneys). Hope this helps others.

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  70. Melissa Brendemuehl says:

    I don’t believe in missing church to attend a game. My belief is the games should not be played on Sunday because it is a respect thing for the Lord. And those who have set up games on Sundays simply are lacking in that respect. They are saying this game is more important than worshipping God. It isn’t a sin but instead just clarifies what is most important to you and where your priorities lie. I live by the rule of thumb what would Christ say if he was here and I think he would prefer me to be in some type of service to Him if I could opposed to being on the game field.

  71. Brooke Osborne says:

    Thank you so much for your wise words. I could not agree with you more. This very issue has been very heavy on my heart for a very long time. You would enjoy the book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. It talks a lot about the cost of truly following God. There are a lot of people that think they are followers but they are really just fans. They say, “Don’t judge my spiritual commitment just because I skip church for sports. You are being judgmental.” Or, they say, “We can do our own worship in the hotel or before we leave home to go to the sporting event.” They will make every excuse to justify. But the truth is – God has said that we shall have no other gods before Him – and that includes SPORTS! I am searching my heart and asking God to show me what I put before Him because we all struggle with some sort of “idol” that we have to overcome. It is just that sports is a HUGE one that Satan has been very successful in using to pull young people away from God – and all because the parent is afraid to tell their kids “No sports on the Lord’s Day”. We want to make sure our kids get the training they need in soccer, baseball, volleyball, football, basketball, or even academics. BUT – isn’t spiritual training more important? Spiritual training determines their ETERNITY! Would we ever miss every Friday at school for a sport? Yet we can miss many, many Sundays. Thank you for your family’s commitment. We stand with you!

  72. Teresa says:

    Just read this. It’s a timely and touchy topic. I have been saved and a child of God for 43yrs. I have made attendance in God’s house a priority for myself and our children all 43 yrs. I have been a pastor’s wife for the last 20 of those years. Believer’s teach their children that success in sports requires dedication, practice, discipline, and sacrifice. Yet we fail to teach them the same things in their walk and love for God. We’ll spend our time on what we love and enjoy. Looking at this short life with eternity’s values in view, the emphasis placed on sports seems too heavy.
    Thanks so much for this thought-provoking and heart-felt article.

  73. Sharon Coppenger says:

    Sorry, but the church is a group of Christians banded together to accomplish God’s work, it is not just attendance on Sunday morning and it is not an individual. Something in your own “body” should be missing when you are not there, it is also a commitment. If your church is first, do you ever not go to a game when church and game conflict? If not, your church is not first, though you may wish it to be so.

  74. Our children are just now getting old enough that this could be an issue, but it is something my wife and I have been struggling with and praying about since before we started trying to have children.

    One commenter on a facebook post that linked to this commented that, perhaps the church should also consider ways to accomodate our modern culture in this area…. There’s nothing sacred about Sunday morning, per se. Worship services could certainly be at a different time on Sunday.

    However, on the other hand, the chuch should also be careful not to conform to the world. It’s a tight balance between being true to the faith and relevant to the culture.

    • yes, my husband(both pastors and parents) have many conversations about that balance. I believe the church has a great responsibility here to adjust and maintain relevancy in today’s culture. We(as church leaders) also have the responsibility to create an environment in our church that puts people in the position to experience the presence and power of God….that will make it easier for people to make the decision to prioritize church attendance. As parents we must carefully guard our priorities in every season and every circumstance…it’s not easy and it’s certainly not as black and white as some of the commenters on this post have presented it. May we(as leaders and parents) continue to press into God in every situation and respond to HIS leading. My prayers are with you and your family as you navigate this next season🙂

      • Kim says:

        This is a really good article considering youthful sports events as Sunday Worships biggest competitor. We call it seasonal, although there is virtually a year round seasoning of these sporting events. All so many good comments and discussion.
        Hebrew 10
        23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
        24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
        25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

  75. Elizabeth Noles says:

    This is a struggle that my family faces as well. My son wrestles and most tournaments are on Sunday. We are also worship pastors at our church so I really get a lot of flack from people for letting him miss. Church is important, the gathering of the body is important. However, sports are important as well. They teach teamwork, responsibility and commitment. Church isn’t Jesus, it isn’t our relationship with God. I know that the few Sundays he misses aren’t going to out weigh the other Sundays, and Wednesdays that he is at church. We have had to make the decision that is in the best interest of our family and what we have peace with. We know that 1 family can’t change the whole season of when they have tournaments. However, we are very vocal about our preferences.

  76. Jeff Jones says:

    Don’t worry so much about “going to church”. “BE the church” wherever you are. Worship of God isn’t something you do once a week on Sunday…”at church”. You worship God with every breath you take, with every thought you think, with every action you do. Do ALL things as unto the LORD. Glorify HIM, even at the soccer field. Makes no difference which day it is.

    • Yes- we worship God whenever and wherever we are….we are also created to be in community with others who are going after the things of God. For me and my family it’s a both/and type of answer🙂

      • Jeff Jones says:

        Here’s a thought regarding your notion that we are created to be in community with others who are going after the things of God…ALL the Christian families that were at that soccer field on that Sunday…why couldn’t they gather right there at the field? Either before or after all the games? You don’t need mortar and bricks or steel girders and sheetrock to be a community of believers. Where two or three are gathered…right?

      • Jeff,
        First: “Where two or three are gathered…right?” That’s a misunderstanding of that scripture which is in the context of church discipline.

        Second: “…why couldn’t they gather right there at the field?” As long as those families are the church you are committed to, they could. But I imagine you have a church elsewhere that is missing a finger, an eye, a spleen, something that is valuable to them as a member of the local iteration of the Body of Christ. Unless you have their direct support in fulfilling the mission of the church at the soccer game, I would say you are leaving the Body lacking.

  77. Larry Blake says:

    There are approximately 8760 hrs. in a calendar year, God only asks us share around 48 to 50 hrs. each year to praise and thank him for his many blessings, especially Jesus. That leaves around 8712 hrs. for the rest of the year to schedule sports activities. I wonder- what would Jesus say?

  78. weiland2009 says:

    Reading many of your comments raises the uncomfortable spectre of dogma so characteristic of religion practised in Iran, Saudi, India, Afghanistan and the United States of America. Even the name of this thread “Church vs Sports” denotes conflict, competition, right or wrong, good or bad, winner or looser. You want to know why Bush initiated a religious crusade in the middle east? Just read this thread.

  79. Jeff Jones says:

    Jim…There’s no misunderstanding of Scripture. Do you really suppose that if two or three come together in His name for any reason other than church discipline, that HE will not be there with them? As for the church one is committed to…is that not the Church of which Christ is the Head? Perhaps it is the various congregations and not the individuals of those congregations that are the fingers, eyes, spleens, and other valuable somethings? After all, the Body is found not in one building alone. Or one town or one city. Or one country. The Body is all the 2’s and 3’s…all the 200’s or 300’s…all the 1000’s on any given day in any given place. CHRIST has given the needed direct support to carry on His mission. What other OK do we need?

    • Sure, he is here even if there is one believer. However, it’s a misuse of scripture to say that Matthew 18:20 teaches it.

      Sure, all Christians belong to one Body of Christ, but unless we each have our local congregations to which we are submitted, we cannot pretend to have full accountability. The fellow believers on the field might hold you accountable at the time, but I doubt you would want them to. For what it’s worth, most churches aren’t doing what they are supposed to do in this respect either as they once did. Part of the problem is that we have allowed the uber-individualism of our culture to change the way we think about church and it has undermined the function of the church. I think that’s what’s behind the idea in the article.

  80. thegringuita says:

    I think it can also leave a mark on the other children, it did on me. My sister played competitive softball from the age 13. They had tournaments every weekend almost year round, except there were fewer tournaments in December, January and February. I was old enough to choose to go to church by myself. I got rides from friends and eventually was old enough to drive myself. I always felt so alone at church without my family. My parents and sister never went (even though we grew up going as a family) because of tournaments and even when they were canceled they still didn’t show up because they were resting. Everything at my church was very family oriented and my family was never there. It was really hard on me emotionally. They still don’t understand how alone and abandoned I felt during this time.

  81. Dane says:

    Matthew 18:20 Is not about church discipline, verse 16 is. When we meet, and there are 2 or 3 present that meet in the attitude of Christ – will substantiate and discern the reading of the Law. Jesus is present and in authority and guidance.

    The problem I have with the idea of getting everyone together after a soccer game in the name of Jesus is this… It will never happen. It’s a great Idea that will never take place. It is like the idea of having a treadmill in the house. A great idea, but the only thing that happens is that is sits in the corner never used with boxes on it🙂

    • Jeff Jones says:

      Dane. sadly, I do wholeheartedly agree with you. It WILL never happen. And therein lies the rub. We’ve become so dependent on man’s model of the church that anything outside of that model leaves us feeling…uncomfortable and awkward.

      • Melonee Pigott says:

        I can relate to your thinking outside of the religious box. I do believe that organized religion can be just as much a distraction as sports. It is all about motive. One may be playing sports, enjoying the pleasures of this life, controlling their schedule and participating in a lifestyle directed mainly by an ungodly majority called society all the while rejoicing in religious freedom and seeing their very flexible relationship with God as a perk to this life. Another may be so moved and impacted by the purposeful of our creation and the call to please the Lamb that was slain and worthy of all glory and honor and blessing, that worship and the gospel of Jesus is the goal and this life is a rescue mission for believers to reach the lost and I will seek in all places where there are people to reach them. Which is the purpose and which is the perk for you pleasing God or pleasing self? That is the question every person must ask. Sometimes people use their religious practice on the field as an excuse to help them feel better about their lack of Sabbath practices. I think their religious practices are just as much useless and on the sidelines as they are at those games. Too many Christians. Sitting on the sidelines instead of in the game which affects your eternity and playing hard (all out) for the purpose of the gospel and giving God glory. Since when does winning a game bring God glory. I am so sick of hearing that. “We won, to God be the glory!” That does not glorify God. Not in a biblical definition of glory. I am not saying either way. Just saying, only God knows our motives. Our prayer should be, ” Search me o God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, see is there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”

  82. Dane says:

    I really hope that it is not “Mans Model” of church at all – I don’t think we are smart enough. My hope and believe that Jesus has built his church that we have today, and the gates of hell have not been able to stand up against church’s advancement into the world. I don’t believe we have made the church model, but that it has made us. The church is the “called out ones” the “assembly of Jesus”, the “set apart people”. In the home, in the theater, in the store front, or in a building, it is those who meet – that are the church. But, the church is not the “small group”, but the small group is a part of the church, under its authority. Hope that makes sense.

  83. Brian says:

    Church is not “the gospel”. The “Church”, rather is a result of the gospel. Why not take this chance – with the sinners – to show them what the writer of the gospel is about.

  84. Shida says:

    Might I put a plug here? Check out Upward Sports. They are a Christian Sport’s league that is nation wide. We’re currently looking into doing this for our daughter…. They not only give kids the biblical basics while they’re practicing and playing. They also encourage families to keep Sundays as the Lord’s day. Like I said, we are just now checking this out but its worth a look!
    http://www.upward.org/Site-Upwardorg/UpwardExperience.aspx

    • Bethie Fields says:

      Our church has sponsored Upward programs for years: soccer, flag football, cheerleading and basketball. Wonderful program! Games are on Saturdays for one hour, practices are for one hour during the week (not on Wednesdays since we have a service that night). It teaches kids the fundamentals of each sport, but there are also memory verses and devotions at practices and games. Most participants are NOT church members, and yes, people have been led to the Lord on the field/court!

  85. Stan Bunch says:

    Well stated and written. Would you give permission to reprint this in our State denominational magazine? We

  86. Chad Noble says:

    Having been raised in a Christian home, I also was an athlete that put sports at the top of the priority list. I played college sports as well. I was living a dream. My dream would continue with my kids, right? Not so much. I found sports with youth getting out of control… 3rd grade basketball used to be the starting point… Now it’s 4 yr olds… My oldest daughters were not interested in sports but many of our friends’ did have kids in sports. At the same time I saw many great athletes go off to play college sports only to quit because of burnout. Now, my son is in a basketball program geared toward building the family and the skills of the sport… We don’t run everywhere all the time chasing after all the other basketball families. Instead, we have fun, work hard and hang out together-and we don’t have to miss church! I would recommend doing that!

  87. JCMeg56 says:

    I took my son out of wrestling when I realized many Sundays would be required of us to attend and participate in tournaments. It broke his heart, especially because he had no interest in other sports. Years later he reminded me of that decision and used it to “blame” for his lack of Christian commitment. Sad, but true. He’s 31 years old now and still alienated from God and unwilling to make a full commitment to life in Christ for fear of what God will require of him. Please remember Thomas in your prayers.

    • Brenda Parker says:

      Praise God that He will forgive our sins and mistakes in raising our children. We thank Him for that all the time. Don’t give up on your Thomas; just keep giving him back to God every time he blames you. God doesn’t have any grandchildren. Thomas will have to be a child of God based on his own decision, not anything you did or didn’t do.

  88. Randy says:

    The church in the bible is not a building.It is more important to be a good Christian 24/7.You don’t have to gather in a building with other people to be a good Christian.How you conduct yourself in everyday life and treat other people is more important than going to church.Although church is a good place to go to learn and rejoice you can teach your kids about the christian way of life day to day.We need to be concerned about being good Christians out in the world at all times and not worry about trivial things like whether we are in a building on Sunday morning or whatever time we feel guilty about.

  89. Randy says:

    And if people are really concerned about keeping the Sabbath holy they would make a concerted effort to not go shopping on Sundays.Too many people are forced to work on the Sabbath but I never hear Christians displaying any sympathy or outrage towards this matter. When I first got into retail stores were closed on Sunday.Yes I just accepted it when it changed and I am a hypocrite and shop on Sundays but this matter is still something to think about.

  90. Greg says:

    I recall passing by a youth baseball park and nearly every Sunday the park was filled with young children there early to play baseball. My wife and I discussed this several times of why they had to play on Sundays. I always have to ask, are the children there because they want to be or is it an ego thing for there parents who dream of them being a star athlete. I have been in this same situation to the point of a make up game on Sunday and if our team didn’t play they would have to forfeit a regular season game. We played, but after church. Why can’t these games, if they absolutely have to be played on Sunday, be after church? I know many see know harm, but if we tell our children that God should be put first, then put everything else in front of Him what are we really saying? Our children are smarter than we give them credit for. One other question, if the games was during the week would our employer understand why we are at the ball park all day every Monday instead of showing up for work?

  91. Randy says:

    I’m a youth pastor and I have several parents who are committed to their children’s sports teams, especially baseball. It’s become a year round thing rather than just the spring. One of these parents is our song leader. But people give them room because sports are so highly valued in Texas.

    But what I would ask is this. Not a criticism or judgment on you. Rather, instead of worrying about not being in church, why not take the church to the sports field? 20 other families. That’s enough to have an impact on the field. I know we should choose church but maybe this is a time to make God known on the soccer fields. Just a thought.

  92. Erik Delatorre says:

    One of the decisions that help us make up our minds about participating in a particular sport is what the schedule is like. If it involves Sundays or Wednesdays (including practice times) then we find an alternate league that understands the importance of Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s a choice. If you’re feeling convicted by the choice you made about being at the soccer field on Sunday then you didn’t make the right choice.

    I stand with you and choose church over my kids activities.

  93. Dale Seger says:

    The best way is to be upfront with the coach before the season starts and explain that your children are not available on Sundays normally and it will do no good to blindside you by publicly bringing up Sunday activities without talking to you privately. You are the parent and it is solely your responsibility to do what is best spiritually for your children and family. Most coaches have big dreams they live vicariously through their teams. I know, I dealt with these people during the years I coached.

    Take a firm stand and show your children that church and spiritual matters are the most important thing we can do in our lives. Every time an activity takes precedence over church you are sending a message to your children that there are things more important than church sometimes. The importance of church lessens with every activity that interferes with church attendance.

    As a grandfather I have learned lessons. One lesson is I will give an account to God for decisions regarding my children. I’m am sure there will be no acceptable reason for making church a lower priority than other activities. If I could go back and change things, church would have always been first and other activities second. That is simply training a child in the way they should live and love.

  94. Hats says:

    Sports has become my field of ministry. Because of sports I have been able to start and be a part of sports ministry on three different continents. Growth for me happens corporately on a Monday night. In a somewhat large town, I have the privilege of attending a small group study during the week and worship on either Saturday evening, Sunday morning or online. I don’t get to know people through worship services but small groups. It’s different for every person/family but you’re right, time must be guarded and intentional efforts made to continue in faith and relationship with God and His people.

  95. Hats says:

    Oh, but think of the elite athletes who are Christ followers…obviously they committed to some sort of continued growth process but is venture to say they had odd schedules and missed church. God has a purpose and I see now why it is so important for the head of the family to be the leader in the faith and able to make decisions in faith. Good stuff!

    • de says:

      I am in the “it’s not worth it” camp. Many parents go all in for sports thinking their star athlete will get a free ride through college. It seldom happens, and never for female athletes. We had a child in Olympic development and traveling leagues. We should have saved the money we spent on that for college and had fun with rec leagues.

  96. April says:

    I understand your internal spiritual conflict, but have you considered attending the Sunday evening service if your church has one? Or perhaps (depending on your denomination) a Wednesday evening service? If you are using every opportunity to attend church when you are able, and using other occasions to teach your children about God, then you should not feel guilty. Use these sports Sundays as lesson days. There is no reason why you can’t turn a game day into a bible study day & attend a later service. Church is just a building, you can have a service anywhere.

  97. Paula Canup says:

    Sadly, you can take your child to church every Sunday, and he or she may still reject it when they are grown.

    • Steve says:

      This is so true…

      Consider this…is your child more or less likely to become an accomplished athlete if they miss practice every time it’s held?

      Are they likely to become scholars if they never attend class?

      All choices parents must make…attending church in and of itself is not a sign of salvation, that’s true…but intermittent attendance, absent a reasonable replacement, will almost certainly assure they’ll never embrace a real relationship with Christ.

      I don’t envy parents who must make these very difficult choices.

  98. Rachel Snyder says:

    I do appreciate this article. Our son is just starting sports. We use the upward league so there’s never anything on Sundays. However my husband and I have a business and sometimes are away on weekends. Sometimes our family travels on weekends. My newborn takes a nap 9-11…and our service is 1030-12. When I was pregnant I had some issues and had to rest a lot. All of these things have kept me from attending church sometimes….and I do not feel that wrong in any way. What about people who work retail…or shift work…or at hospitals…or cops…who can’t make it Sunday? Are they more spiritual because its their job and not a sport? My husband grew up catholic…they had saturday services. I see nothing wrong with that. I believe chuch is vital…however I don’t think of myself as less spiritual or even sinning if I have to miss sometimes.

  99. Heather says:

    Than you for sharing! I remember stopping by a fast food joint one Sunday afternoon and there was an entire little league team there. I did the math and figured if they were there eating that means they were at the field hours ago DURING CHURCH. Made me sad for the children. They are learning ways that say YES to sports and NO to church, like you mentioned. In the case of what to do perhaps we can ask coaches and tell them at the beginning of the year we are Christians and will not be able to do anything on Sundays. Coaches should be willing to adjust team roster or schedule. If not, you probably don’t want your child playing on that team anyways!

  100. Art Good says:

    I am a youth pastor, and I appreciate the spirit and content of the article.

    I think a good way to go would be to teach kids that even though they may occasionally miss Sunday worship because of athletic (or other) activities, they need to practice consistency in going to church, and more importantly, have a daily devotional relationship with God.

    The reality is when they become adults in the work force, they may very well have to miss many Sundays because of work. Many people in the medical professions, food service industry and protection services (Fire and Police) have to work on Sunday. Does this make them less of a Christian? Absolutely not. Many churches have midweek services, and have church services archived for viewing online. This coupled with a small group, every day friendships with other believers, opportunities to serve, plus a consistent devotional life can certainly allow a Christian who misses the occasional (or due to work, regularly misses) corporate worship service to have a growing Spiritual life.

    IMHO, I think we prioritize church attendance too much (I say this as one who’s vocation depends on people coming to church). We have made people believe that the end-all-be-all of being a Christian is coming to church. All the while many have no personal devotional life the other 6 days of the week. I think we’ve gotten the cart before the horse.

  101. Steve says:

    When my Father pastored a small town church in the 1970’s there were a lot of kids in his congregation, including my brother and me, who played Little League baseball. The games were usually on Wednesday night.

    Dad spoke with a good many of his people about adjusting the mid week service (prayer meeting if you will) to Thursday night during baseball season. They agreed and that’s the way it was done while he was there. Other local churches followed suit.

    This was just one small way in which the churches actually had some flexibility to hold service another night and still allow the kids and their parents to be engaged in community activities.

    Sundays was another matter altogether, and in those days we didn’t do anything like is being done now. It’s certainly a difficult decision that parents have to make, but I agree with the author of this article. Each family must prayerfully decide what ultimately is in the long term best interests of their family.

    Peace to all.

  102. Karen says:

    We attend a relatively new church and our children are young (3 yrs, and 8 months). Our church had service on Wednesday night’s alone, and has small group (we call them family’s) on Sunday morning. However my husband and I have for years kept Sunday sacred. Just with busy lives we all need a day of rest. Looking ahead, my son (the 3 yr old) will be a great soccer player, however I’m at a loss as to join a league and not participate on Sundays. Thanks for taking up the fight to get our Sunday’s back to what they are suppose to be!

  103. Tim says:

    The conflict only becomes real when you view both church and sports as extracurricular activities. I felt the same way once as a student pastor. Then it hit me one day. That’s is where I want my kids! Being an influence on their peers. Church isn’t an extracurricular activity. It’s life! If you guys had twenty or so at the game on Sunday then Holy Jesus! That’s where He wanted you! Not counting the believers who aren’t in church but counting those who didn’t have a church home. Sticking it to sports is not what Jesus wants. He’s probably suck YOU to sports but that’s just my opinion.

    • Noe Rodriguez says:

      Great concept but do you really go to a sporting event to evangelize? I have seen our fellow brothers and sisters involved in the emotional And the heat of passion of competition that “We” forget all the learned at church and we start acting foolish. This is not very Christlike and examplary to our children.

  104. Angie says:

    This was a great read. Looking at it from my angle may shed further light on why I totally disagree with Sports on Sunday.
    My husband and I have been in youth ministry for 16 years, we’ve seen the decline in participation from families, this is not isolated to Sunday mornings. This type of approval sets a precedent for what is expected, what is encouraged and what/ whom to put first. I know that many will argue that it’s seasonal…. But is it really? Many families we know are involved in more than one sport, or they have have multiple children in various seasonal sports. Once the approval of missing our sabbath is set in motion, it leaves an open door to choosing not be be a part of the “extra” things we do as a church family. For one, these people have become strangers to us, for two it’s simply not “fun” enough. Who can compete with the invigorating physical challenges sports give us?
    This is a tragedy indeed. I think that the discipline is lacking and parents, it’s your discipline, not the children, they are only doing what you’ve allowed. Why is this allowed? I just don’t get it, there are no excuses. With the extra curricular school activities and homework, adding more sports leaves little time for God. I’m sorry families, it’s true.

  105. Noe Rodriguez says:

    Many times I have had arguments with coaches who schedule activities on Sundays. If we fail to stand up and object to the continued disrespect of the Sabbath our nation will continue to dismantle as a God fearing and God loving country which was founded upon Chrisrian principles. We are teaching our children that the only day we have designated to worship and adore our Creator and Savior is not important. We give him one day of the week and He gives us a lifetime of love and happiness. What a merciful, loving and forgiving God. I love sports but I will never allow them to take priority or precedence over my love for God.

  106. Ron Fisher says:

    Sunday School was a part of my life all through my youth and early adult years, and helped develop my love for God and His written word. When other things interfere with this early training in Biblical life principles we send our children a mixed signal that leaves them confused about what is important. The end result is a compromised spiritual life that leads to a rejection of the Christian World view and lifestyle. My grown children were never part of a Sunday sport activity and they grew up to be socially well adjusted adults. Jesus called us out of this world system and wants us to be a different kind of people, not like this world. We should never be trapped by the herd mentality of this world.

  107. jerry clark says:

    One thing about this that stuck out to me was the fact she said church was the way we have to teach and learn about God which we should be doing at church, but if were only growing at church then it must just be a Sunday thing. As followers of Christ we need to be learning everyday we can, reading and praying to God everyday. It was a good article because it goes way beyond sports, it goes to the decisions we make everyday and I get that but what I don’t get is some people on here condemning people about it, sounds self righteous to me. The bible says were sinners saved by grace and faith in that grace which comes from Christ, also says Christ himself comes not to condemn but to save. I think we have to watch that we do not stake our salvation on how good we are but what Christ has done for us and we can add nothing to it, but understand the freedom Paul expresses to us that is in Christ not the freedom to do what we want but the love for God to please him. Some people still need to learn to stop throwing stones, and maybe pray for someone instead of bashing them.

  108. Lisa Latham says:

    I am on a church staff and also have three daughters. This is an important topic and I am grateful for your comments. In my personal experience I have found that it is important to discuss this BEFORE kids reach the age to be involved in extracurricular sports and other activities. It is almost like the “make your decision before you find yourself in the back seat of a car” talk. Christian parents of preschool children need to make their decisions early on. They need to decide prayerfully what they will and will not compromise on before the find themselves in the middle of it. My family made the decision years ago to attend church on Wednesday evenings and eat dinner as a family there. My husband makes many sacrifices to leave work early and meet us at church. It is simply what we do and have always done. When my daughters began to be involved in activities that met during that time, we were able to say no from the beginning because we had that commitment. One of my daughters swims, and the majority of her meets are on Saturday and Sunday. When she was eight, she went to her first meet, and realized we had not signed her up for the Sunday events. She was devastated and cried herself to sleep that night. However, today, at age 13, she signs herself up for Saturday meets only and knows that is just what we do. It is become a part of the fabric of our family and is simply expected that we will be at church on Sundays. However, in order to keep legalism at bay, we allow the occasional missed Sunday if there is a good reason- family trip, needed rest, etc. I encourage families to talk about this issue- to pray together and wrestle it out together. Make a decision and stick to it- which is a good practice for all issues. As I tell my girls, “be the one that stays the same.” That way you always know what is expected and there is no room for guilt.

  109. carl says:

    Individuals that have a problem with sports on Sunday also need to have a problem and boycott shopping and eating out on Sunday. If an individual thinks that attending church on Sunday is a necessity then they should understand that if they run to the nearest restaurant or shopping center on Sunday then they are preventing others that work in those establishments the opportunity to attend church. Write an article about that!

  110. Valerie Layton says:

    I wish everything would shut down on Sunday, including businesses. Remember that when you leave church and go eat or shop, you are interacting with people that have to say no to church because they have to provide a service to others, including you because you are there. (When I say “you”, I mean society). My husband has to work almost every Sunday and although he asks every week if he can be off on Sunday to attend church and spend the day with his family, he is turned down. Yes, he has looked for another job, but until then he has to provide for his family. Basically, even church goers do other things on Sundays, like lunch after church or shopping, but like I said….you are the reason they have to say no to church. Just another perspective….

  111. Anthony Borders says:

    There are many people who have to work on Sunday on a regular basis. So they come to midweek Bible studies. Most churches stopped having Sunday evening services and Wed. evening services. Can’t really blame folks for not coming the 2 hours the church is “open” during the week. Another alternative is for the church to start a sports program. Upward Sports is popular across the country. The Assemblies of God also has sports centered ideas for outreach.

  112. howard says:

    Very good! As we grow closer and closer to God we should see that He should be number one in our lives.If we choose to put other things before Him it will hurt our relationship with Him as well as our relationship with our church family.I believe the more faithful we are to God the more faith He puts in us.And knowing this it should thrill us to think that by our faithfulness that makes our children faithful that He would choose to use you,or one of your children,to do something great.

  113. Stella M says:

    The “church” is made of people. I wonder why… if you saw 20 other families there.. that you didn’t come together and worship before or after the game? Doesn’t the bible say “when two or more are gathered in my name”? I don’t think God intended us to choose between sports or a regularly scheduled meeting of like-minded people.. I think He intended us to BE the church (not GO to church). So in the future, why not edify one another, partake in the Lord’s supper, and even invite the other members of the team who do not attend church to do so with you?
    Problem solved.

  114. heidi jones says:

    I have a few things about this church is very important to my family first and foremost . but to say church is a habit is wrong you should get up every morning like it was Sunday not a ritual . I have 3 kids who have have tournaments on Sunday mornings at i first i felt the same way but that first tournament the coach ask the whole team and parents to meet at the hotel pool the morning of the tournament we had a devotion prayed( the amazing thing is other teams and parents joined in ) and went on our day with games so I or my children did not miss out on GODS word that Sunday morning . Romans 14:5-12

    • Ronald Fisher says:

      Heidi: Do you really feel that the 15 minute pool side devotion takes the place of a 1 hour Sunday School lesson? Are you replacing the 1 hour Bible study time with 1 hour on Wednesday night? I think it’s interesting that whenever the Holy Spirit pings our conscience we run to Romans 14:5-12 for solace. Consider these verses Judges 21:25, Proverbs 3:5-7, Hebrews 4:12-13

      • heidi jones says:

        if you want to be legalistic the do you watch sports on sunday or have you ever? do you go out to eat on sunday or have you ever ? the people playing sports didnt go to church but im sure some had a devotion .and the waitress ,cook ,dishwasher, all working on sunday because you chose to go out to eat.or watch the game on tv. if you are bringing up old testment God says honor the sabbath and keep it holy.(sabbath being on saturday) Hebrews 10:24 -25 HCSB And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works,not staying away from worship meeting as some habitually do ,but encouraging each other ,and all the more as you see the day drawing near . Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

        • Ronald Fisher says:

          Heidi: The issue here was Sports vs Church on Sunday Morning. How are you going to replace the 1 hour Sunday School lesson your children were taken away from? The 15 minute pool side devotion was nice but not sufficient. You are making excuses rather than dealing with what God is speaking to your heart. Jesus said; “Follow Me” Mark 8:34

  115. Christian says:

    Lisa’s comments above say it well.

    It’s a matter of choosing ahead of time, purposing in heart.
    It also involves simply being up front with coaches about our God and values – and being willing to walk away when it doesn’t mesh.
    And seeing that in the end, we stand before Christ, and not coaches, has helped our family make the sacrifice. Also, thinking of the far greater sacrifices of believers before us and in other parts of the world has helped.

    Sunday services help our families in the obvious ways of teaching and fellowship. But it goes a lot farther than that. It’s giving God the first day of the week, as a sign of our priorities, and it’s witnessing that Christ is risen from the dead on this day and that we believe that makes a difference in our lives and specifically in what we do on this day.

    Sports can supplant the position meant for Christ. It can easily end up being what we do on Sundays, where 10% of our money goes, and what claims the deep passions of our heart.

  116. Pam Wells says:

    Love this article. Note that it’s not just sports though. It’s also birthday parties. Many families are planning birthday parties for their children on Sunday morning because it seems a convenient time and I have seen children missing church because they are at a birthday party. I was surprised one day when I found out a woman in our own church was planning her own son’s party for a Sunday morning because other moms were pressuring her as that time suited them best.
    I agree with the author of the article that it’s time we, as Christians, take a stand and make our time of gathering together a priority. We NEED to do this! Show our children that God comes first. The Word tells us to come together for a reason! It’s so important!

  117. Michelle C says:

    There are multiple services – early, evening, and even Saturdays. Why can’t a family have both church and sports/activities on Sundays. I have some Seventh-Day Adventist friends who say the same thing about Saturdays. I think there’s a way to strike a balance without giving up one or the other.

  118. Rosemary says:

    In my faith, it actually is a sin to miss mass for something other than illness or genuine emergencies. We have had honest discussions with our boys that sports will not interfere with our love of church and our obligations to it. I imagine that it is like anything else one gets out of the habit of doing–once you miss it a a couple times, it becomes easier and easier to find excuses to not go at all. In all honesty, I would rather offend 11 families for missing a game than to offend my God for making alternate plans on Sunday mornings.

  119. Jeremy Obermeyer says:

    Very good article! Wednesday nights are another time frame that church is losing. This needs to be stopped.

  120. Jill Beran says:

    Great article! We are beginning to enter this and I appreciate your insight. Your words reminded me of my first year coaching…at the time I was a church goer and basketball was my God. Our junior high team was entered in a Sunday tournament and one of our top players was going to miss the first two games so she could go to church. I was shocked, but held nothing against the girl…I can remember thinking, “Would I ever choose church over basketball?” Ten plus years later I’m thankful I now do, but my point is by making this decision we as believers can send a message. We can talk about God and faith being important, but when we live like He is number one our actions are seen. Thanks again!!

  121. DJ says:

    This is a struggle for me. I believe there is nothing better in life than the Lord’s Day. I love His people. I love the preaching of His word.

    But, I have a kid who is bound to be a major Division 1 athlete and will get a full ride to a major college. He plays about 10-12 weekends a year, mostly in spring and early summer. We try to make it to the best Bible teaching church in that area most of those weekends, but some games are in the mornings. I have gone as far as to ask tournament organizers to delay the Sunday games, which usually falls on deaf ears.

    Pray for us. It should be such an easy decision, but my son’s travel team has invested a great deal in him and I feel guilt on both sides. Lots of people depend on him, even at such a young age. A lame assessment, I know. Thanks.

  122. Shel says:

    you can attend church on Sunday nights, or Wednesdays and sports are not year round. It is very important for kids to play sports and get exercise. We choose sports over church when we must and have absolutely no regrets. If we ever told our kids “no you can’t play because we MUST be in church” they would begin to hate it. Balance is key, extremism is very dangerous.

  123. Victor says:

    I agree it can be a serious struggle.

    Ruth & I prayed quite a bit prior to joining the travel ball circuit. I have had several conversations with family members who have questioned our decision.

    Travel baseball is our mission field.

    We reach, touch and impact families each week we are not in church who……aren’t in church!

    We pray before games, after games, between games. I have had the opportunity to share my witness with a couple of team parents and their players because they wanted to know about this “praying thing.” I have had the opportunity to counsel young men who are unchurched and be a positive role model for them. All of our teams have heard the true Christmas message and understand the importance of God bringing Jesus into the world so He could give us the gift of salvation.

    ” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

    So many times we focus on going to the ends of the earth to carry Christ’s message we lose sight of the opportunities right here in our own back yards.

    I believe God prepared us for this season in our lives while we were serving in Awanas, VBS and children’s ministries. Prior to serving in those ministries I am not sure I would feel as confident in sharing what Christ has done for me, and my family.

    As a father I have a responsibility to show Zach how to be a man. Lord knows I can do a better job in a lot of areas. But part of that responsibility is letting him see me in the real world being the best Christian I can be. Sharing, caring, interacting and witnessing in my daily life, not just on a two week or one week mission trip. The opportunities we have been granted in baseball allow me the chance to show him without just pushing him into the deep end of the pool and saying “swim, God will save you….”

    To answer your blog I would say take the opportunity to witness, share and show the world Christians are real people. Take the opportunity to teach your child in a “safe” environment how to witness to your peers through your actions on and off the field. How to stand secure as a Christian in the world knowing your child will face different beliefs and lifestyles while interacting with his/her team mates.

    This is a season for our family, it won’t be long and Zach will be moving on to other seasons in his life where Ruth and I won’t be able to participate on the level we are now. Ultimately, as a parent, I feel sports (even those which take us out of church sometimes) help teach Zach some important fundamentals which will prepare him for those seasons. I truly feel preparing him to share his faith is one of them.

    Thanks for sharing this and the opportunity to dialogue.

  124. Lindsey C says:

    As a “grown” child myself (25 yrs old), I can honestly say that my parents’ decision to take me to church on Sundays instead of letting me play in my sports games was (and STILL IS) very impactful. I was frustrated when they did it, and I’m sure other players and parents on my teams were frustrated too. But I am so thankful they did it. It taught me that nothing is a priority over worshipping God with fellow saints. When my husband and I have kids of our own, I have a great example to follow; I know first hand that it CAN be done!

    I will also say that this helped me trust my parents more growing up. Thank you for this honest post and for your desire to be a better disciple! The love is contagious. God bless ya!

  125. Adam says:

    This article didn’t make me uncomfortable, or mad. Well i guess it maybe got me a little upset, but not for the reasons noted in this article. It’s sad to me that we Christians always seem to be pointing our finger at something. Way back when it was rock and roll music, movie theaters, and even playing cards! God forbid anyone play a game of cards! Currently we seem to be stuck on homosexuality. In 10 years I’m sure it might be something different.

    I take a number of issues with this article. The biggest being the emphasis on church ATTENDANCE. There was a shift hundreds of years ago in church history when church began to be about a building, rather than a group of people, and unfortunately has stayed that way ever since. Far too many christians ATTEND church, without knowing they ARE the church. Big different. The last thing i want my children to do is attend church. If that’s all my children, then i am failing as a parent. I would much rather teach my children to BE the church than simply make sure we ATTEND church every week. There is so much more emphasis on attending, rather than being, and this i believe to be the reason your child is 20 and has no relationship with God.

    And if your child is 20 years old and has no relationship with God, it won’t be because you didn’t attend church weekly. Even if you attend church weekly your child can grow up not knowing God. AS A PARENT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO RAISE YOUR CHILD TO KNOW GOD. It is not the responsibility of the church. Let me repeat that. IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH TO RAISE YOUR CHILD TO KONW GOD. The church can come along side and partner with you, but the church does not exist to raise your child to know God. Scripture is very clear that that is the responsibility of the parent. So if your child doesn’t know God at 20, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself what you did to introduce your child to Jesus. Being part of a church should be part of your answer. What also needs to be part of your answer is how you modeled your relationship with Jesus to them. If your sole source of measuring is church attendance, i can almost guarantee your child won’e know Jesus when they are 20. Statistics prove that a child’s relationship with their parent is far more important in determining if they come to know God than any other factor.

    What if on the days you can’t attend church youtake your kids to a local homeless shelter and love on the poor. I think Jesus might have done that. What if on the days you can’t attend church you find a needy family and go buy a bunch of groceries for them? I think Jesus would approve of that. What if on the days you are sitting in the grass with 20 other families at a soccer game you tell everyone to gather around. What if you said you wanted to start off each game with prayer? What if that group of 20 slowly grew to 25, then 30, then 40? What if over time that group began to see other soccer families showing up to pray for safety? What if one week you shared a bible verse and people who didn’t know about Jesus heard that verse? What if you be-friended some of those people? What if those people came to know Jesus? What if that group of 20, by very nature where the church, started acting like the church wherever they went? What could God do with those 20 people? I don’t know, but i do know what he did with 12..

    I didn’t read all the comments to this post, but i did notice one where someone was trying to argue the importance of the Sabbath. Unfortunately anyone trying to argue the “command” of the Sabbath is wrong. Jesus and the New Testament writers AFFIRM ALL BUT ONE of the 10 commandments. Can you guess which one Jesus and the New Testament writers said we don’t have to follow anymore? The Sabbath!!! There isn’t time here to go into detail, but basically because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, we are at peace and spiritually at rest.

    I am in no way trying to be harsh. These are just my opinions. I think its time Christians started acting like the church everywhere we go. Like it or not, we live in a world that doesn’t’ play by our “Christian Rules.” We need to learn to live in this world and adapt to it. In my opinion the last thing the world needs to see is more Christians taking a stand against trivial things. The world is going to hell. Lets remember that.

    • Tracy says:

      Adam….I couldn’t agree with you more! Very well said!

      I’ll apologize in advance for my long reply but felt it in my heart to tell you my story. And that is just what it is….”my story” from my personal experience. I hope I do not offend anyone as that is not my intention at all. So here goes……

      When I was growing up, we did not attend church. My sister and I would occasionally spend the weekend with my grandparents who took us sometimes. We also had a neighbor that was a very sweet elderly woman that attended church. She lived by herself and my sis and I would help her do things around the house or some yard work and we would also go over just to hang out with her and talk. We spent many hours talking with her and asking questions about God and Jesus. She was very inspirational and I came to love her very much. My sister and I started praying every night because of my grandparents teaching us the Lord’s Prayer and also because of my neighbor. We believed in God because of their witness to us.

      I look back at my neighbor who had the biggest impact on me and think that all of those hours we spent talking was like having a bible study or “church” even though we weren’t in a church building and I did not realize that at the time. You see, when I was growing up, I had an alcoholic father who was “made” to go to church as he would say when he was growing up. He always had opinions of “church people”. He said that they were all hypocrites and that he would see people go to church on Sunday and drink on Monday, and that they all just want your money, etc. etc. In his eyes, you had to be perfect. You could not drink, use profanity, or do ANYTHING bad in order to go. He did not paint a pretty picture of church for me when I was growing up. But yet – I was still drawn to my neighbor and my grandparents who exposed me to church. When I attended church with my grandparents and when I talked with my neighbor at her house I thought to myself….well they seem like pretty nice normal people. My dad must not know what he’s talking about.

      I started going to church when I was 20 years old. I was baptized when I was 23 years old in the same church that my neighbor went to. I met my husband when I was 19 and we’ve been married for 22 years. We dated some before he went into the service. He was in for 5 years and we ended up getting married 6 months shy of him getting out of the service. We have 2 beautiful daughters and who are both baptized. We attend church regular. He is my rock. I look back at the time I spent with my neighbor and time spent with my Grandparents and wonder what would have happened to me if they had not exposed me to the bible? I think we all fall sometimes and that’s human. I try to ask myself “What would Jesus do?” when in a situation that could go south fast. It’s hard sometimes but I know that God will always be there when I fall. He’s my rock. I know I feel guilty about missing a Sunday or two or about whatever else that comes up in my life, but I know that God will always have my back. And I also know that as shy as I am in person to talk to – I must get out of my comfort zone and do the same kind of witnessing that my neighbor did to me. Maybe I will be an inspiration to someone else. I sure hope so…….

      I too feel like you can have church even though you are not in a church building. There have been Sundays that we have missed for various reasons over the years but I don’t feel like it has made us weaker Christians. However, attending church IS very important and there’s nothing like a church family. I love going to church and the people that we attend with. But I also feel like there will be times that we miss a Sunday here and there but it does not make me or my family weaker because of it. Life happens and God knows my heart.

      Again, I apologize for the long story. But in my own personal opinion, I don’t think missing a few Sundays will make us any less of a Christian than someone that is there every single Sunday. God Bless!

  126. Brooke says:

    Ugh! Constant internal struggle for a family with 3 kids in three different competitive sports in three different seasons. We make sure we have our kids at youth on Wednesday and encourage them to use the Sundays we miss as days to be a witness to those around them by their actions on the field (because we ALL know how parents and kids can act on competitive sports). It’s the best we can do as we work through this…no good answer though. If we are traveling and there is a church near the field, we visit it…regardless of what’s on the sign. We figure it’s the intent to worship and we’re doing the best we can in the situation.

  127. Thank you for your article! For those who are on the fence on the issue of sports, I HIGHLY recommend this audio download:
    http://www.titus2.com/sports-friend-or-foe-session-download.html
    It’s only $4.00, and it is a WONDERFUL session on this topic!

    Steve Maxwell has also written a series on this topic that you can read for free. You can read the first of the series here:
    http://www.titus2.com/corners/dads-corner/sports/part-1.html

    I highly encourage us to do what is right rather than what is just easy!
    And for Conservative Christian Moms out there, I hope you’d join me at my website for hot topics such as this:
    http://conservativechristianmom.blogspot.com

    Thank you for writing truth on a tough subject!

  128. Tim says:

    As a Texas High School Mountain Bike coach we have races on Sundays and most races all year on Sundays. Jesus said “I am the sabath” and build my church. It’s the only thing he said to build so we bring sabath to the masses and build up church outside the tradition. we started Church On Friday and soon to have a church of Two wheels for sat race night. It’s about bringing church to them sometimes. When not racing. Sunday church for sure. Great article.

  129. Wade Jenkins says:

    In my opinion the decision should always be God first.

  130. Tricia says:

    To me it is about prioritizing. I’m sorry but if you don’t go to services at *all* for at least an entire season of sports- let alone multiple seasons- I feel like it is making sports into a god- which it already is for enough people. To me you make sacrifices and have balance.

    Go to Friday night contemporary service if your church has it- heck, even if you are Protestant, go to a Catholic Saturday night service. Or strike a balance of only missing a certain amount of services- stand up for your beliefs- we worship in community- not just as individuals. It might not be popular, you might have coaches that won’t let you- but I personally think that it is the right thing to do.

    Of course the fact that I’ve *worked* in Christian Education for a number of years and have seen parents that *say* they value the Christian education of their children but don’t seem to show other than Christmas and Easter and baptisms and confirmation- I know that makes me biased.

    Oh… and I understand the struggle, but I also think that when we make our choices that it shows our priorities. I’m not going to make a judgment that a person is “less” of a parent or “less” of a Christian because their choices are different, but there is a part of me that will really question their priorities- I probably should work on that (“attending to the log(s) in my eye vs. worrying about the specks in my neighbor’s eye”)- but for now it is there.

  131. Bearmama says:

    This is a struggle in our family too, with three in hockey. Games are on Sundays. We are open about the sacrifice we are making to our “God time” with our kids, and clear about how important fellowship is. However, we feel as parents that every minute of every day is our time for God, to place him ahead of all else (that is open to definition), and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus to our best ability. Sure, it’s great if you can get to a church “service” every Sunday, but that is not a gauge for how deep a person’s faith runs. And besides, WE ARE THE CHURCH. Church is not a building. Someone said that when we forsake CHURCH, we sin, but I think many commentators are confused about what CHURCH means in a biblical context. It is us. Jesus goes where we go. Our faith is embedded in our hearts. Bibles fit in a hockey bag. What an awesome opportunity to be disciples! How sad that so many are caught up on legalism. It is exactly the stuff that creates a battle-field amongst believers. WAY worse than missing a few Sunday church services. We can all get fed, no matter how we worship/gather/serve. Trust the Lord people – He will make your paths straight. Stop being so afraid of judgement by other “Christians”. NONE of us are free of sin, and none of us knows each others’ intimate relationship with God. WE are the CHURCH. Even at the ball field or the hockey arena. Shine your light, lead with LOVE, stay in the WORD and fear not. Gracious me!

  132. Pingback: Sports vs. Church | Fire Shut Up in My Bones!

  133. Gene says:

    Would anyone call their boss on Monday morning and tell him, “Sorry, Boss, just can’t make it today, the kid has a ball game.”…….. Why is your job more or less important than God? Your actions tell the world what your real priorities are……. you are telling you kids what your priorities are…… do you show them the ball field or church….which is more important?

  134. Grace B. says:

    Foresaking not the assembling together on the ballfield as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching. (See you can fellowship anywhere). Right?

  135. Charles D. says:

    Years ago I mother stated to me, “I’m going to allow my children to grow up and decide whether or not they want to go to church, it’s not my place to make them.”…….. To which I replied, “Do you do that for them in regard to bathing and going going to school?”…………….. why is church the only issue a parent feels they can’t train in regard to….

  136. Robert Rollan says:

    Our son wasn’t allowed to play or practice on Sundays or Wednesday nights, and God honored him with a baseball scholarship after high school. Matthew 6:33 says to seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteous ness, and all of these things shall be added to you. Because our son stood up for his faith, he had a tremendous witness with his friends,

  137. Chris says:

    Here’s what bothers me. We as church people tend to think that church can only take place at church! Why not use these times as opportunities to take the church to the people that need it most. Why not have an early morning devotion around some donuts and coffee at te sports fields instead of in the lobby at church. Every choice we make does not have to mean we can be at church, it means we teach our kids how to take church to the world around us and in turn reach people who would never darken the doors of a church.

  138. Kim says:

    I grew up where church was every Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday. You don’t miss it. Nothing else comes first. I live in the Bible Belt. Most people I know grew up this way. You know what? Most of us resent the church for it. The church picks a day to meet and mentally masturbate on whatever they feel is the proper way to understand a very clearly written book, say prayers that are meant less for the Lord, and more to sound good to to the congregation. I’m not a Christian anymore. Many of us who grew up that way aren’t. There are many ways to worship, but I’ll bet sitting in a building wishing you were somewhere else isn’t what God had in mind.

  139. traypruet says:

    First of all, I am a pastor. So there’s that. So what I’m gonna say will not be what you’d expect.
    If you truly believe that church attendance isn’t the goal, then cut yourself some slack. I know, you want to do what’s best for your kids and your own personal relationship with Christ…but if you also believe that you are being equipped and discipled to ultimately GO….the time is now. You are being sent. Don’t begrudgingly say no to soccer…go with a mission of building a relationship with those outside the church. Also, don’t try to get them to come to church with you the next Sunday you don’t have a soccer game. Make the relationship the goal.
    My daughter played basketball thru high school…and she had games/tourneys on Sunday. I went when I could…but she did have a commitment to the team. We met our best friends thru my daughters basketball team. They had been out of church for 17 years after getting pregnant before marriage. We never once asked them to church. Never. But we intertwined our lives with theirs. What was important to them (kids, birthdays, school, basketball, music, college fiitball) was important to us..and what was important to us (including our faith and how we chose to live it OUT) became important to them. They invited themselves into our lives and our faith community.
    So before crusading against sports on Sunday, be sure that God’s not wanting you there.

  140. Steve R says:

    Although I do understand the feeling you get when you don’t go to church due to a game, work, etc I think you are missing on a great opportunity.
    Just because you miss out on Sunday morning church doesn’t mean you can’t have your own service with your kids after the game and/or go to night church. I think your missing out on a valuable opportunity to share your thought or lesson with your own children. A good example is when I was in highschool we had a soccer tournament that had 2 games on Sunday. In between the games we went to a parents house (local in town tournament) and we watched a movie, got hydrated, and rested. During that time a parent talked to his church and got some notes from the sermon that day and the parent announced he was gonna have a small quick sermon in the other room and everyone is invited. Going to church is important, but showing your kids that no matter what reason you give for not going to church there is still a opportunity to have worship.

    • michael says:

      Do you do anything on Saturday? Do you cook? Fish? Clean house? Do you now the yard? Do laundry? Even walking more then 100 meters? Drive a car? All this, and more is work. If one person holds one hay holy, and another person holds another day holy,..,…….. Didn’t God make all the days? By theway, if no one worked on Saturday or Sunday, I would hate to see someone have a heart attack, or house catch fire, or loose phone service, internet, electricity, or have a water leak…… I love how people will harp on others not being in church, then all pile in cars and go to a restaurant to eat while all fancied up, then they don’t even life leave a tip after running the wait help ragged and taking up a table for two hours… Oh yeah, come into walmart with a flat then decide you want an oil change while you are there and blow your stack when there is a 2 hour wait…why? Cause they are short handed because all but a couple people refuse to work on Sunday…
      If a person breaks one part of the law, they are guilty if the entire law.
      That is why Christ came, to save us from the penalty of the law….

      Why not gather with the other church folk and have a song service at the ball park .

  141. Mike says:

    The kids who were out of church for their sporting events are not in church at all now. Every single one that I can recall. They are following their personal dreams and goals. Some have kids out of wedlock. Some have been or are currently on drugs. One has been in and out of prison. NONE are in church currently, some are trying to come back in, but are having a hard time.
    On the other hand, not all, but most that didn’t miss church for sports, myself included, are still in church. Church is an important part of their lives, and now their family life.
    It’s not a legalistic thing. It’s a love thing. I’ll pick church over sports any Sunday of the week.🙂

  142. Esmeralda DeLaCruz says:

    Its never been a question in our family even when my husband coached, luckily we have multiple Masses offered at different times so even if a game was on a Sunday we were able to attend both. Even if it came to a choice, our kids already know where we stand on this issue. As for anyone who considers it being a judgement call and that we should not judge people. In most cases, we as Christians do not judge people, but rather the actions that people take. It is our job to hold each other accountable and draw people closer to Christ. God bless you all!!!

  143. Larry Collins says:

    If there were 20 other families from your church it seems to me it would be a simple matter to band together and say “not on Sunday”. Our sons played all kinds of sports from swimming to baseball to basketball to volleyball to soccer – NEVER on Sunday. Sunday is explicitly to be a day of rest, and we’ve added church and worship. I never saw anyone doing any of those things at a sporting events. Yes, it’s called PRIORITIES. Make excuses if you will, but it’s indefensible

  144. Zona says:

    It only takes one good example to make many more good examples happen… Saying “No” to Sunday sports is not being judgmental… If people feel that, then it is the gospel of Christ that is doing the judging… We are told that Sundays are set aside for worship… When we make that choice for our family, then there is no other choice to be made… God has said that we cannot serve the world and him at the same time… There is no straddling of the fence…

  145. Sarah says:

    While I do understand the main point behind this article and agree with it to an extent, I think we as Christians have kind of screwed up what it means to be part of the Church. It doesn’t mean we gather together every Sunday in the same building to listen to someone preach and sing songs of praise together– at least that’s not the most crucial part. The book of Acts talks about the Church as a people who were together every single day, breaking bread in their homes together. They supported and encouraged one another and praised God together every day. It was meant to be a lifestyle, not a weekly routine. People have this misconception that it is their “Christian duty” to be in their church building every Sunday; but the truth is, Church takes place on the soccer field just as much as it does in a building with pews and a cross. We need to remember that.

  146. CharCoop says:

    I don’t think this article has to do with sports. I think it has to do with “Whatever we put before God, we are saying it is more important than growing as a Christian.” We are battling this issue with our teenager who wants to miss church for this or that. ” As long as u live under our roof, you will be in church. ” we r not saying if u miss once in while u will go hell but it will create a pattern.

  147. Steve L.Smith says:

    In life you must be taught from a early age priorities, for they will define you as you get older. I grew up in a family that God comes first. Very challenging for God gifted me with athletic ability and musical ability. While friends played on sunday, I was in church, frustrated with this at first but I was presented with alternative , practicing on fundamental and much more through the week and on Sundays after church. As I grew in christ I realized that only what you do for christ will last. I made the choice to never allow world pursuits to over shadow what and how I serve for God. The time that was set side for God was never touched. And I reached every Goal I set. I learned this simple principal I cannot conform to this world. But I had to learn that early. So I teach my kids the same principle, with a choice. But as far as my mind set I wanted to be used by God in every way and now I’m in my retirement years of sports, all the rewards were great, all the praise and recognition was great, I can say to this day I never chose sports over God. And he elevated me to heights that I couldn’t even imagine. Sports to me are truely about how you think and react. And as far as my house we’re going to serve the Lord. If God said it that’s what he meant.

  148. Faith says:

    This will not be a popular post, but this is how we (and many friends), Chose to deal with this. No sports. Seriously, most families are so bust trying to get kids to practices and games they can’t really enjoy family time. I was raised this way, we’ve raised our children this way. Instead we encouraged them to be involved in church activities. They learned team building and all the things people list as a reason for sports. No problem kids, drugs, alcohol, etc., to deal with as a result.

    We practice the scripture: “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together…” Usually spend far more than 2-3 hours per week at church. It’s good for all of us and builds strong families.

    On the other hand I have a good friend who had her children in sports from the time they were old enough. Yes they missed church frequently (and they had prayer or devotionals). Two played in college, one w a permanent injury. Today… All three are far from God. So sad.

  149. I’m seeing a lot of comments on here defending their point by saying, “You don’t have to go to church EVERY Sunday.” Certainly that is true. Nowhere in the Bible is it found that you must go to Church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday nights….although, many churches try and make you feel guilty otherwise. The important thing is that We are not forsaking the assembling of ourselves. We are in constant fellowship with believers…holding one another accountable. It’s not just about us walking right, but being there for other believers to hold them accountable as well.

    However, I have a feeling that most people who miss church to do “sports” are likely not replacing that fellowship time. One, because most churches don’t offer those times. Two, because if they’re willing to sacrifice fellowship for sports, I’m confident there are some who do….I just think it’s less than 1% of those who play on sports. If you’re one of those, then I’m not talking about you. But search your own heart. Does church interfere with your ball schedule? It’s not about how many days a week you go. Honestly, three days a week is not enough. We need to be in CONSTANT fellowship with believers. Yes, we need to be witnessing to the unbelievers daily, but we are not to be in fellowship with them (read Proverbs).

    If you are on the fence about this at all…PLEASE read this free article on sports….I think it will in the least give you a new perspective on sports…
    http://www.titus2.com/corners/dads-corner/sports/part-1.html

  150. Karl Baumgardner says:

    our chidren are grown now, but when they were young, we refused to let them participate in soccer leagues that scheduled games on Sunday mornings. period. end of discussion.

  151. SM Morris says:

    There is another side to this as well. I as a teen chose sports. My parents did not support me in my decision. They were very involved in the church and refused to miss an occasional service to attend my games that occasionally fell on a church day. I resented and still resent them and the church for that reason. Church is important, but so is supporting your child. This was all at the time of the WWJD movement. I asked my father one day about it. He said he would go, but then who would fill his position. Amazingly there was always someone to step in and fill a position when someone had to work. Yet, my parents wouldn’t ask for someone to step in so they could support their child.

    Also in the scenario in the article. If there were so many families being involved in the activities why not plan a bible study or prayer group at the event. It could be a good ministry opportunity to the community and would likely get people from other churches involved as well. You might even find out there were enough with reservations to push for no more of the events on a Sunday or for the events to be around church activities. I know when my son was playing hockey there was one team with several that attended church and the league was always willing to schedule them such that they could still participate in both.

  152. Josh Yerta says:

    You make a great argument and definitely food for thought. I grew up in Church and missed very few Sundays. As an adult and father of 3 boys, I realize attending Church is very important but teaching them to have a daily relationship with Christ. Two of my sons are involved in Travel Baseball and it does involve Saturday and Sunday play. We have included devotion and prayer with the entire team at practices and at the beginning of each weekend tournament.
    I agree that a Church family is crucial in a child’s development. Discuss with your Coach the dilemma and volunteer yourself as a devotional leader for the team. If your Coach declines the suggestion. Find a team of believers and watch your kids grow in Christ and sportsmanship.
    Plant a seed and watch it grow!

  153. Kathy says:

    I totally agree with this article. The only thing I would add is that not only are we not making church a priority, but we are not making family a priority. As a mom of four boys, three of which play year round sports as well as seasonal recreation teams, I constantly find myself very upset that we are going different directions. But yet we are the ones that are choosing this! For what? 14 year old baseball, 12 year old basketball, etc. Really? But yet we sign ourselves up for it year after year. I wish I had the strength to say no.

  154. Clayton says:

    Chariots of Fire…

    Great blog post. We will face persecution if we follow Christ, Jesus said so.

  155. Michelle says:

    When our 7 children were younger and they were all involved in recreational sports, we had a no Sunday play rule, unless the activity was after 2PM ( which allowed for Sunday School, church, lunch and a change of clothing, so that we could all get to the activity together as a family) By stating this up front to the directors and coaches, we then never had to experience the pressure of “not being there” or letting the team down, because we just were not available. During those fundamental years, we were blessed to be able to instill in them, the love of the Lord, the importance of church fellowship, and the understanding that indeed Christ comes first. As our children got older and more mature, they were there presented opportunities where Sunday activities were available to them. Most often we allowed them to choose if they would participate or not, knowing full well that they would be there alone, (unless it was after church) we would get them to the coach, and would return for them at the completion of the game, or when they could drive, we would see them at home for lunch. While I would like to say they always chose church, they did not, but I will say that they are all aware of what day it was, and how they should honor the Lord on that day, regardless of what they were doing. Many insightful conversations have ensued, about attitudes and behaviors and setting our selves apart regardless of the day of the week that have been challenging and encouraging to them and to my husband and I along the way. Our society as a whole does set our kids up to have to choose, however as the parents, we have to set the examples, and the guidelines and be the example until we as the parents are certain that our kids are mature enough to make decisions on their own. Are my kids perfect, heck no. Do they all have different personalities and maturity levels – oh for sure! But child by child, we set them up with the foundational truths, live by example and trust in God for the rest.

  156. The Church is not the building. *We* are *the Church*.
    We don’t “go to” the Church; we “gather with” the Church.

  157. Mike Fretz says:

    One thing that I see being missed in so many of these comments is the idea of consistency in attending our home church for the purpose of developing and deepening relationships with other believers in our church family. Can we still put God first and attend another church while following the sports schedule? Sure. Can we find fellowship with other believers whom we don’t even know? Of course. Can we still find corporate worship and fellowship by having a small service of our own with others in the same situation? Absolutely. But one of the main points I found the author making is that to develop and deepen relationships, we need to consistently spend time with people. Jesus said that the world would know we were His by our love for one another. One of the biggest weaknesses I see in our churches today is in our love for each other. If we are honest, many of us know very little about what is going on in the lives of others in our church family. Many of us can probably count on one hand the number of people in our church family who we really know. And is it any wonder? It seems as if most churches only offer one opportunity for gathering together anymore anyway (one of multiple options on Sunday perhaps, and maybe a Saturday option for those who work on Sunday). Is it any wonder that we don’t know each other and participate in the lives of our church family on more than a superficial level? In so many cases, we are given one opportunity each week to spend time with our church family, but we treat that occasion as if it’s no big deal if we miss it. Yes, we can (and most of us will for various reasons) miss a Sunday now and then. But we really do need to guard this time and make it a priority. As was stated in the article, it doesn’t seem to take much until one Sunday becomes two, then more, and after a while, meeting with the family at our home church becomes the exception rather than the rule. I doubt anyone starts off thinking that this will ever become the case for them, but it sure seems to happen a lot. Christianity was never meant to be something that exists in a vacuum. It is all about relationship, not only with God, but with other believers as well. I’d encourage a reading of the first few chapters of Acts to see how the early church operated. They were together all the time. They worshiped together, they ate together, they shared their lives together. We could learn a lot from them.

    • Well said, Mike. I’ve made that point, but few here are saying it.

    • J.R. says:

      I know everyone in my church and the things going on in their lives. One of the problems with church today is the lack of love for the body. But one of the biggest, is not understanding what church is and what worship is about. IT’S NOT ABOUT US. IT’S ABOUT HIM. how much harm would the church have taken had she said no to the Sunday game, I assume the family has fallen into ruin since they missed a Sunday. My son plays baseball and knows the need to be in church on Sunday and other days of the week (we spend a lot of time there) but also knows the commitment to baseball is going to conflict with that. it’s his choice and I’m not going to one: hurt his view of church and see it as this, because I’m a Christian I can’t play baseball because I might miss church, and make him think he has to be one or the other. Two: allow his teammates, who he made a commitment to, be let down because he’s not there because of church (this will really make them excited about going to church one day) and three: make others think I’m this Holier then thou Christian who can keep the Ten Commandments and don’t need Christ in my life. I can be a bigger witness on the ball field then I can at church. Why you ask, because there are more lost people at the ball park on Sunday then in the church.

      J.R. Horsley
      Music Director/ youth leader
      Friendship Baptist Church
      Hardinsburg, KY

  158. Misty says:

    Personally, I think sports have become a “god” to many. I understand how it slowly happens and that our society values sports, but even if your children are not involved in organized sports, there are sports all Sundays and Sunday nights for folks to just sit and watch all day. After morning service, folks are rushing out the door to be in time for the game instead of enjoying the sweet fellowship that happens after a morning of worship. Folks are late to or nonexistent at evening services because a game went late or a play-off game is happening. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are lots of other reasons too and I am not looking at this in a legalistic way…but more of a practical way. We hired our pastors to do a job and that is to study the Word of God and impart it to us (among other things)….and then, folks stay away. That’s like hiring a caterer to feed you and then not going to the feast…only with far greater implications.

  159. Rodney says:

    I have two married and one still at home. We always made the decision that sport actvities were excluded on Sundays, until I broke my own rule with Pro teams. We set the example, we must say to our kids ‘Do as I do, not as I say!’, because Our words at time MAY contradict our actions. My children always attended church on Sundays & Wednesday nights as requested and knew the importance of their relationship with Christ and the church family. But I’m afraid to say that they have witnessed our family being hurt by church members & pastors, that my oldest two at this moment do not attend but LOVE GOD with all their hearts, My wife and I have found a loving church and we with our 16 yearold attend and our involved. We can guide our kids, take them to church, instill in them the values of the Word BUT as adults in the end they WILL make their own choices NO MATTER what. They know what they are suppose to be doing we just pray and believe what the Word tells us ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’ God bless!

  160. Gwen Doggett says:

    As parents of five sons, we have been faced with the sports decision on Sundays many times. We have managed to avoid it most of the time by researching the team in advance to see what their Sunday playing habits were. So our boys have been in church the majority of Sundays. However, I have two adult sons who do not go to church now even though church and Sunday School were always an important part of their lives. I just want to make sure that people understand there is no guarantee if you skip sports to go to church even though I believe that if you choose sports over church, you will also reap the consequences. It always comes down to the heart.

  161. janna says:

    there were 20 families from church there? Sound like an opportunity to have an unplanned Sunday service before or after the game, and the kids to make friends with other kids involved In both church and a sport they all like.

  162. As a pastor I remember vowing not to let anything interfere with our family’s Sunday morning church time… and then I actually had a family! Watching my son grow as a player, learn sportsmanship, enjoy being part of a team, etc… I can now see why so many wonderful, church-going families struggle. My perspective, as a pastor and a mom, is that playing the victim doesn’t help. In other words, we can all hold on for dear life to the “good ole days” without sports on Sunday, or we can do something constructive as a church. Let’s face it, most towns don’t care about our spiritual struggles, so we have to be the ones to do something! A slight change in the Worship schedule? A church family dinner and service on Saturday or Sunday evening? Flexibility and change are not always words that we embrace as a church, but maybe it’s time we spend less time whining and more time actually doing- something I learned from my son’s coach🙂

  163. If we observe that people will be off the team, or viewed as not dedicated to the team, or somehow less of a team member for not attending a ball game, how is it not more so for attending church?

    If we observe that people are being judgmental for observing that it is important to attend church as a member of that church, how are we not being judgmental for saying so?

    If our goal is to justify our participation in events that harm our relationship with our fellow church members, how are we not guilty of placing commitment to those events above our commitment to our local church?

    We think that by conducting a Bible study at the ball field we are effectively replacing what we get out of going to church without realizing that what we put into church is at least as important as what we get out of church. When we aren’t at church, we aren’t helping our fellow church members. I don’t know about you all, but I get to find out how I can help others in my church family when we gather for our regularly scheduled worship. And out of the abundance of this help we can turn our efforts outward at the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    • J.R. says:

      Church is not about you… it’s about worshiping God. Too many people have the mindset of “I just didn’t get anything out of church today”. Worship service is for worship of a God, who lived, died and lives still for my sins and He is the ONE church is for…

  164. Jack Scudder says:

    There is an old, old hymn that says:
    Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord, Abide in Him always and feed on His Word. Make friends with God’s children, Help those who are weak, Forgetting in nothing His blessings to seek.
    Take time to be holy. the world rushes on; spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone. By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be; Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
    Take time to be holy, Let Him be thy guide, and run not before Him, Whatever be tide. In joy or in sorrow still follow thy Lord, And looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
    Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul, each thought and each motive, beneath His control. Thus led by His Spirit, to fountains of love, Thou soon shall be fitted for service above.
    I realize that there is a lot of King James verbiage in this old hymn, but the thought and message is there, even in the translated version.

  165. JackieL says:

    What’s wrong with attending on Wednesday or Sunday evening if you miss the occasional Sunday morning? You still show your kids that your family prioritizes church. Maybe the “Sunday morning only” mindset isn’t working for the modern world. Maybe families aren’t sinful and not prioritizing God; maybe the church itself could be more flexible about service times. There are no demands in the Bible to place church services at just one point in time. The Sabbath is a symbol of God’s rest that has traditionally been celebrated on Saturday and Sunday, but traditions can bend. The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath, right? Jesus himself was a bender of established Sabbath traditions.

    • David says:

      The church is making adjustments to bring the families together to worship and for Bible study – Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, etc.But when it all began on Sunday was when Jesus rose from the dead, on the first day of the week, that the believers began meeting each first day of the week to worship (John 20;1, 19, Acts, 20:7, 1 Cor.16:2). My point… the church made it the practice of meeting together to worship on that day. Is that a tradition or is that an example of remembrance for the church each week? Then, a reason for the individual or the family to gather with other believers is to support each other in their faith, learn the Word and practice spiritual disciplines together. That creates relationships, fellowship, that helps us walk in Christ as we grow. If a family is just looking for what’s convenient for them to go to worship and not involved in the fellowship of believers, learning, growing, and serving together, then you are still teaching your children to have a consumer’s mindset, rather than a servant’s heart like Christ.

      • JackieL says:

        Let’s clarify that you, a stranger, have no idea how I parent or what I teach my children. That said, Sunday morning is a tradition, not a law. Jesus was comfortable with bending traditions in the Sabbath, wasn’t he? I have a tough time believing that the God who spoke the universe into existence gives a fig when we worship with our fellow believers as long as we’re committed to the practice. If I’m teaching my children that the family makes time for church every week, then they’re getting the message. As long as priorities are emphasized, then who cares when churches meet as long as it’s working for God’s people?

  166. Michelle Campbell says:

    My family has always made it a practice to be in the house of God on Sundays. This year we were required to be at a band concert at 3p or suffer consequences (affecting my middle schooler’s overall grade) We have a decent drive back to and from church (45mins) and we live in MI with a snow storm coming down, it was a close call for getting my clarinet player there on time. Hardly a Sabbath day! Flip side of the coin, this is the only time in 10 yrs of kids in school we’ve ever had anything on a Sunday that was mandatory.

  167. Nick Fry says:

    As a youth pastor, I’m finding this problem on Wednesday nights as well. About 15 youth have to miss because of basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, etc. depending on the time of year. Parents choose sports over church, at least here they do.

  168. Genene says:

    Read the 10 commandments! Remember the Sabbath a Day and keep it holy.

    • J.R. says:

      so that’s the one we should keep… we can’t keep any of the others what makes you think you can keep that one… that football, nascar, basketball or whatever game it is on TV really keeps it Holy… or the lunch at the restaurant where workers are having to work on Sunday? that helps keep it Holy as well…LOL Read the Ten Commandments…why is this always our response… like we keep them, if we could… What did Christ die for???

  169. Charlie says:

    I remember fighting this for many years while I was coaching in multiple sports. The ones that are not into the “church thing” don’t see the problem.
    The better their kids are in that sport makes it worse as without the rest of the team their child will not get that schlorship they “deserve.”
    We as Christians have to get some backbone and refuse to be jerked around by those with other priorities.
    I refuse to buy that its just seasonal argument. The seasons keep merging

  170. Lula says:

    Excellent article written. If one feels offended or “judged,” it’s because one feels convicted by the Holy Spirit. Conviction is supposed to feel uncomfortable because it’s supposed to move us to change.

    I think it’s important to remember that whatever we do instead of church tells our children that this activity is more important than church. It tells them, it’s okay to miss church IF it’s for ___ event or activity. I sure want my kids to know that nothing is more important than gathering with God and the believers… including work.

    You only get ONE chance to raise your kids. There’s no second time around, no rewind, no starting over to do it better. I personally am taking no chances.

  171. J.R. says:

    I agree to a point… We are the church so wherever we are the church should be. seeing 20 families from one church sounds like a chance to share with others (where two or more are gathered). even if it was to gather in a parking lot and pray as a group. Did anyone think of that or does church only happen in a building on Sunday morning. anytime you allow your child or yourself to be involved in a activity outside the church you run the risk of missing a church service. how many times have you missed because you were tired? did it bother you then or just when people saw you miss. Had you decided to say no you would have made a lot of people mad and therefore placed a stumbling block in someone’s path. You choosing to let your child play may have had more of an impact then you saying no. Those who would have been mad wouldn’t have blamed you, the blame would have fallen on the church. I agree with your conviction of needing to be in church on Sunday morning. But I also see the need to teach a child the fact that a commitment made is one to be kept and not just at church. Always show the church for the light it is and never become a stumbling block.

  172. Teresa Thompson says:

    As a mom of a son who played travel baseball for 8 years while growing up, I can totally understand where you are coming from and how you feel. I will tell you that we would make ever effort to attend services somewhere before or after his games. There were times he would wear part of his uniform under his dress clothes and we would leave after the sermon or Lord’s supper, depending on which was last. Our worship services start earlier then most so it was a little bit easier for us. We also have attended with family or friends in the town we were playing in. There were also times we would be late for the game because of it, we were lucky though because for the most part our coaches were very understanding. Another thing was that he was a pitcher, so on the days he wasn’t scheduled to pitch, he might not have to be there or could be late. Looking back I don’t regret what we did, but I am one of the luck ones. We have two sons who are 23 and 20. They are in college out of state and are very faithful members of the church. The one who played baseball is a councilor at the church camp he attended when growing up. That is something parents should look into for part of their summer activities. Our boys attended Camp Deer Run in Winnsboro, Texas. There was one time that he was at camp and would have had to miss a game, so we went and got him just for the evening because the game was not far away. It was a one time thing. He was telling us just a few months ago that camp was one of the main things in his life that made him the strong christian he is today. There are ways to instill a love and respect of God in your child’s lives. Always talk about HIM as a friend, and your children will think of HIM as one. Good luck to all of you who are going through this right now. May you be able to train your children in the right path and when they are old, they will not depart from it. That is in Proverbs, but I can’t remember the exact chapter and verse.

  173. Keith says:

    I always talked to my sons coaches before they started playing for them and let them know our stance as a family on playing ball on Sunday (and Wednesday) and ask if that was a problem. I let them know we would not be playing and if it was a problem we would remove our boys before the season started, never had a problem and never was ask to play on Sunday.

  174. Mark says:

    I made a statement about things like this around October. When people respond with the judging card, it’s a sure sign that the Holy Spirit is trying to convict your heart. Just be happy for someone else’s conviction that’s a godly conviction. Making decisions that will draw your family closer to The Father is always good. When faced with any question of what should I do here. It’s simple. Ready? If Jesus was in the situation would he choose ball over Church? Easy. Don’t forsake the assembling of Gods people together! Period!

  175. Marty O says:

    I’m am 53 yr old man, over 40 years ago, i played football at the local grade school. We practiced during the week with games on Saturday. The first week of practice on Wednesday at 6pm , my dad came to pick me up. Coach said practi was not over. Dad said, Wednesday night is our regular mid-week church service and we attend. You are welcome to continue practice, but, my son will be leaving to go to church, and we . he next Weds night, my mom simply blew the car horn at 6pm, I excused mself and left. The followng Weds, practice was completed by 6pm, and, each Weds thereafter was the same. We went on to win the city championship that year. Probably a coincidence, I don’t know. But this I do know, the coach later accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, that was not a coincidence. We are in the situation we are because we did not and do not stand up for the little things, now, the world refuses to listen when we stand for the big things. Just my 2 cents worth.

  176. Linda says:

    I appreciate this article so much. This very thing is something that we have struggled with so much in our area. Thankfully my kids for the most part have chosen sports that do not play their games on Sundays so we have only had the occasional conflict. But I see so many families in this poor area laying their kids on the altar of sports for the purpose of getting a free ride to college…most of them don’t get any money for school.
    However, sometimes the issue arises that the persons coaching/organizing the sport or tournament in our area are Catholic and they prioritize having Saturday off for their Sabbath. When we’ve felt that we have to play a sport or travel for a sport on Sunday (only a handful of times in the past 8 years), we make sure to do it as a family, have a devotion and prayer time together, and then pick another day of the week to have a Sabbath. Let me explain a bit…Before I got married and had kids, I worked in the medical field and had to work most Sundays, 2 to 3 out of 4 every month. I made sure that I found a small group Bible study that fit one of my days off each week, and that would be my Sabbath day. Because of doing this with our kids over the years, they now all thoughtfully prioritize church over a multitude of things, not just sports, that can draw them away from church.
    I should also say that many churches in our area have added Saturday worship services to encourage families to find time to fellowship, learn, and worship.

  177. Karl Kuhlken says:

    We in the Catholic faith have an obligation to attend Mass every Sunday. Unless it is simply not possible due to extreme illness or traveling in an area where there is no Catholic Church nearby, we must observe our obligation. Most churches have Mass on Saturday evening, and many also have a Sunday evening option so that morning sports don’t have to interfere. However, if the decision came down to sports or church, sports would have to lose.

  178. Marni says:

    Thank you. I awoke this morning with this topic on my heart, because baseball season is on the horizon. I want to be on board and on the same page as my husband. My husband took a stand when my children were young. My parents, who have never been regular church attenders, wanted the children to do something on a Sunday afternoon. This caused them to miss a church service. My husband made a request that our children not miss church activities on Sundays.

    Then came baseball. All rules from before were thrown out the window. I fought the inner conflict all last season. This article reaffirmed two things for me. 1)My concerns are valid. 2)Ultimately, my husband IS our spiritual leader, and I want to find a way to be respectful. I am praying for a 1981 breakthrough, but will find a way to make it through even if it never does.

    My husband also has a Bible study on Sundays with our son, or they watch our church service online. I think every family has to decide for themselves. Sometimes it’s not the perfect answer that wins. My battle is in choosing to honor my Lord when I have been trumped.

    To all who were offended by this article, she totally gave a warning before she ever started.😉

  179. Kurt says:

    I know as Christians we have different takes on this issue. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our “Sabbath Rest”. The Bible is clear that we are to regularly meet together as believers for worship, edification, teaching etc.. That being said we are not under the Law regarding the “Sabbath” since the purpose of the Sabbath(law) is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
    My point is that we as believers should make meeting with a local group of believers on a weekly basis a priority, but missing church in itself is not a sin. The Church I attend and love has Sunday morning services. I miss services off and on for various reasons. This act is not necessarily a sin, but in my heart the reason I am choosing to skip Church may be a sin.
    “You are what you eat”. Church is where believers go to get the best food for growth.
    The goal is to make meeting together with believers a habit, and instill that same habit into our children.
    When I miss church, do I MISS church?

  180. Gene says:

    Excellent thoughts. I whole-heartedly agree with you. I run a Jr. High baseball program in the spring and summer and I have taken a strong stance on not scheduling any games/practices on Sunday. For families that don’t go to church anywhere but are upset at the “loss” of potential games I have told them that if they are that concerned with their sons baseball talent then they are free to play catch with them at home, or join another team. I won’t be responsible for putting a stumbling block in the way of any fellow believer worshipping our Lord.

  181. Kim Doggett says:

    We went through the same thing when our kids were young. Soccer practice Wednesday evenings, games Sundays. We finally decided when our children die, they would not be standing before some coach but before our Lord. That is when we told the coaches our kids would not be participating in Wednesday practice or games on Sunday before church was out. After we made our stand, several other parents did the same thing. Practice times were changed and games/tournaments didn’t start until after 12. Only one coach, a high school football coach is the only one who gave us fits. Again, I told him he would not be the one our kids stood before on judgment day. What could he say to that!
    Our kids are grown now, therefore I don’t know if this is still the case. Sometimes it just takes one family to stand up for what they believe to give others the courage to follow.

  182. Rhonda says:

    I want to go one step further. My husband is a coach and has coached from Junior High to College. When he was on the college level I followed the team but only a few Sundays. Because of the collegiate rules he could not avoid taking the students away from their opportunity to worship on Sunday…however they always had Wednesdays open. That is a unfortunate part of college sports. We have been in the public school for over 11 years and the chance to schedule is more flexible.

    As a Christian family we strive to not miss any opportunity to worship..Sundays or Wednesdays. Our daughter is now in softball and our rule is that if it interferes with church then we aren’t available. This does not mean we do not teach or live by our commitments but we do not allow them to rule our priorities.

    I was raised this way but my parents allowed my brothers and I to stand for the principles they taught us. In high school we were on the tennis team. Our coach scheduled practice on Wednesday evenings during church. I felt so convicted that I talked with my coach and we were not penalized for coming to practice after church. It made for late nights but worth it. In college I again ran into a similiar situation with my college band practice. Again I spoke with my director and I was not penalized for being late. I always schedule work around services and have found people are more understandable as long as we are not offensive in our walk.

    I am not sharing to “pat myself on the back”. I simply pray thay these examples can be used as strength to those struggling with standing for God and what your family prioritizes. Our service to the Lord takes many sacrifices and the Bible plainly states that this world is not our friend. However, as parents we must strive to raise adults that will seek to put God first and walk in His ways.

    Thank you for your honesty and I truly pray that His children will stand for His truths and be His examples! Thank you for your article!

  183. Eliza says:

    I don’t see judgement, it’s choice. We are fortunate enough to have 2 services on Sunday and our rule is if you can’t make it to one you don’t play. We set examples for others and have had no issues with our choice. We need to stand up for our God, if we did maybe sports wouldn’t happen on Sunday mornings. It is so easy to let the simple things change perspective. It is important for our children to put God first. It can start as one game, then two, and so on and we’ve missed church all summer, Others should know what our priorities are.

  184. David Spiece says:

    I didn’t read all the comments but notice one that said, we shouldn’t “blast” people. No where in the comments did I sense a attitude of blasting. I saw someone who is struggling with what decisions to make and how they can affect our children. Also, no where in the article was it even hinted that to miss one service was a “sin”. Come on people, read what it said and don’t add thoughts or intent between the lines.

  185. Mark Lybbert says:

    I remember ten years ago leaving Wenatchee Washington and driving home from the annual Apple Cup Soccer tournament with my 12 year old daughter and being thankful that we were going home on Saturday night and not Sunday night. We were going home to enjoy the Sabbath. Ever since I’ve been grateful for that and similar decisions.

  186. Shawn Mills says:

    First of all I’d like to say that everyone should do what they are lead to do. With prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit will guide anyone who is open.

    I must say that this is a bit short sighted on solutions though. My son plays baseball 9 out of 12 months. His team won the National Championship this past summer so this is an extremely high level of competition and missing games/practices pretty much doesn’t happen. But the church doors aren’t just open on Sunday morning. Our family goes on Saturday night sometimes if there are Sunday morning games. Or we get up early on Sunday and go to a 7 or 9am service so we can be at a game by early afternoon. We also attend Wednesday night services sometimes when we know we will be out of town over the weekend. We even go to church in other cities when traveling to tournaments. Outside of that, we host 2 small groups at our home. One every other Monday night and the other every other Friday. On top of this, we spend 30-60 minutes every day worshipping with our children at home. Our kids also go to a Christian school that we selected not based on academics but on the standard of Christ being the center of the philosophy of the school.

    My point is, there are many opportunities to worship other than Sunday morning. I think a bigger issue is the amount of time we spend amusing ourselves with things like television. Our family doesn’t watch much TV. We don’t watch American Idol, The Walking Dead, How I Met Your Mother, or any other “Regular” programing. The word amuse comes from the root word “muse” which is something that moves you to greatness. The prefix “A” means “not” or “anti”. So, the word “A-MUSE” means something that leads you away from accomplishing greatness.

    To much “AMUSEMENT” and not enough “AMBITION” to accomplish great things for the Lord!!!

  187. We began at home with our children before any commitment was made to sports or any other event. They understood that from our perspective as parents, their relationship with God was the most important thing in life. That was the foundation of how we raised our kids. Worshiping God with other believers was/is a vital element in building that relationship (along with praying, reading and studying God’s word, serving God and ministering to others, giving, etc.). As our children grew older, we allowed them to make more and more of their own decisions, encouraging them to consider if the choice would interfere with keeping God first in their lives and then loving and supporting them even if/when we did not agree with their choice.

  188. Jose Laureano says:

    I believe that if parents don’t show a real relationship with God Monday to Saturday going to church on Sunday won’t help the kids. Our children are the first to know if we have a real relationship with Jesus, and that is where they really learn about God, Sunday service is just the cherry on the cake.

    I have seen so many kids that “hate” church because their parents lift their hands to God on Sunday and the rest of the week lift their hands against each other.

    If we are not parents to our kids, pray with them, read the Bible with them, it will be hard for them to call God “Abba” (daddy)

  189. It seems that Jesus said it best. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I would imagine that usually your body follows your heart.

  190. Debra Wilson says:

    The writer is concerned about letting down the other 12 kids on the team if the family says no to the tournament. What about all the other churchgoers that are let down when we’re not in church?

  191. jim gray says:

    What if you the parents could start a church service or bible study of some kind at the soccer, baseball, volleyball tournament? There are so many people who are consumed with this every weekend and there needs to be someone step up and be the church for these people! Something like FCA for parents to keep plugged in to the important things in life.

  192. Betty Haston says:

    When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in small town USA, NO sports activities were scheduled on Sundays OR Wednesday nights out of deference to the churches. When my children started participating in extra curriculum activities, we made sure the expected place for our children were at their Sunday and Wednesday church activities. I only remember 1 exception for my daughter, and that was for her to attend a “just say no to drugs” rally sponsored by her school district on a Wednesday night. When my son began playing Little League, his practices were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday night. We told his coach up front that he COULD not attend Wednesday practices and why. The coach made a permanent exception for him but offered make-up times with other teams JUST for practice purposes and SOMETIMES would schedule one-on-one times with him. Only ONCE did we make an exception to our rule…his team miraculously and VERY Unexpectedly came from the bottom of the pile in the playoffs to be in the championship game – held on a Wednesday night. As it turned out, that night was “end of year activities party night” at church – no instruction, just fun and fellowship. We made the exception and the boys WON the championship. I wish I could say that my children handing the same kind of dedication down to their children, but they were given the best prayerful example we knew how to give!

  193. Chris says:

    There are hundreds of comments and thousands of opinions. Nothing else can be said that hasn’t already most likely been said. I want to thank you, the author, for writing a great blog article. I believe it hits home for a lot of folk, especially in areas where sports takes priority over family. I want to address two sides. There are those who believe sports build character which is why it is so important. If this were true than the NFL would be dominantly filled with men of great character and it is evident that is not the case. There are great men of character in the NFL but it is a minority. This applies to any major sports league. To address the judgmental comments. If you claim to be a follower of Christ than you are giving permission to other disciples to call you out on your sin. But we are to do it with grace and not carelessness. As for the non believers, we do not have permission to judge them. It would be unfair to expect a Christ-like attitude from someone who doesn’t know Christ.

    When uncertainty is present, refer to God’s Word.

    Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:1-2

    I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism… – Ephesians 4:1-32 (refer and read on)

    Don’t be afraid to call out a fellow believer with grace. Come along side him/her and help them to find their way back. Judge each other in righteousness.

    The scripture that angry and convicted people love to quote, “judge not lest ye be judged”. Don’t stop there, read the entire context and use it correctly. God bless all of you and I pray that the Lord works great things through you to further His Kingdom.

  194. Rance Davis says:

    How about this? Make your decision before the season starts. Let the coach know in writing how your family will handle conflicts between sports and church attendance. Then discuss it face to face. Solves the problem.

  195. Marie says:

    I understand the predicament but most churches have more than one service on Sunday. The likelihood of having a game during both of those time is probably pretty low. Another solution is to try to attend a service at another church. My family has sporting events on Sundays quite often but we always make it to church. Even if it is not at our church as long as we go somewhere we are getting something out of it. Going is better than not going at all. Another thing I would like to say is, do you watch football on Sunday? If you enjoy dOing that, you are saying playing sports on Sunday is okay. This situation doesn’t have to make us choose between church and sports but I think people use the excuse I have a game on Sunday so we can’t go to church.

  196. Christy H says:

    A quote I’ve heard a long time ago that resonates strongly with me is “What parents do in moderation, the children will do in excess”. Just look at what is morally acceptable in our society and that should be enough to convince you. That slippery slope can be applied in so many areas especially in how our actions can speak louder than words when we are setting up Christ and church worship as a priority in our family’s lives. I know that however I want my boys to turn out as young Christian men, I must do even more then the bare minimum to get them there. The outcome of our children is a scary and awesome responsibility. Definitely not to be taken lightly. Thank you.

  197. Lynnda Normann says:

    No more sports on sundays!!!!!!!! i want to go to church and spend time with my f amily…life is so hectic as it is there r si x other days in the week please give me back Sundays

  198. Jane says:

    Our rule was that the coach knew right up front that is they had games on Sunday that our boys would be there after church and Sunday school.another thing we also did was find a church near the site of the game and attend there prior to event. My boys are both grown both continue as Christ followers🙂

  199. Libbu says:

    The point of Sundays is not first and foremost, being connected with other believers and developing biblical discipline. God commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy, not attend church from 10-12 on Sunday morning and then do whatever we desire the rest of the day. God has commanded this not because He doesn’t want us to have any fun, but bc He knows 1. What we need is to find our rest in Him. 2. Corporate worship and observing the sacraments are a means of grace in our life. 3. When we submit in faith to what God’s word commands and take advantage of these means of grace, then our hearts will feel God’s perfect rest, desire more and more to live all moments of our lives for His glory by putting His kingdom first, and the good pleasures of hobbies will take the proper place in our lives as amusement and not something to order our lives around. As CS Lewis said: we are far too easily pleased. We are content making mudpies in the street, because we have no concept of what is meant by a holiday at the sea.

  200. Kim says:

    Not every family that participates in organized sports is Christian.

  201. Nicely written. If parents stood together and refused to compromise their beliefs whether it be for sports, shopping, whatever, and chose to keep Sunday as a day of worship and family, these issues would not arise. If there is a sport your child wants to play, yet it would include violating your own beliefs, why not create a new league (possibly with inter-church rivalries) to be played on Saturdays and weeknights? The more that stand together, the stronger you will become. Just the ramblings of a tired mind.

  202. Brian says:

    There is nothing wrong with saying no. The world will make it just fine without one more crappin’ sports event.

  203. Big T says:

    I am an old country preacher!we should always be an example for our children.Many times our children can’t hear what we are saying for seeing what we are doing!If we say we love Christ let us worship!For those that miss on Sundays to do these Activities.Take down your calendar and mark the days you spend serving the Lord,then mark the days you spend doing things for Christ.I have been Pastoring a long time.Those that spend there Sundays doing activities most of the time in my experience are not serving the Lord like they should.We are not to judge ,but we are told to be fruit inspectors.Do you have little fruit or Big fruit for our Lord?In Everything give Him Praise!!!

  204. Ashley says:

    My oldest daughter plays travel softball, which is pretty much a year-round sport. We are fortunate enough to play for an organization that holds a church service on any Sunday that we may play. No team is allowed to play or warm up during the service which is nice. It not only provides an opportunity for those of us missing church, but also reaches a large audience of young children that don’t go to church on a regular basis!

  205. Stephanie says:

    As a children’s pastor I see this a lot! This is a frustration to me. There is an affiliation called upward sports! They practice once a week and have games once a week. It teaches Christian principles and every child gets to play! They never play on Sundays!!

  206. Jerry Moyer says:

    when I was a Children’s Pastor my children’s church would clear out half way through the service or attendance would go down during certain times of the year because of sports. Some of my kids played every sport and were hardly ever in church. They are not in church today either.

  207. Pingback: Sports vs. Church | Learn of Me

  208. CW says:

    This is a discussion our family has shared many times over the years. Our son has been involved in travel hockey and baseball since age 7 (he’s now 18 and playing his first college baseball season this year.) We have always found time for Bible study, worship, prayer, and discussion even though we were not always in attendance at our home church. We’ve also continued to financially support the church as well. There have been criticisms for our attendance decisions I’m sure, but the choices were right for us as a family. How do I know? I base it on our child’s decisions during his college recruitment process and the maturity of his decisions now that he’s more or less on his own. To our pleasant surprise, one of his first actions was to find his own church home in his new college town. (He is 5 hours away.) We now have a church to visit when we visit him. It’s obviously important to not lose perspective, but I continue to believe the two can mix if approached the right way.

  209. Momtothree3 says:

    My children are not athletic but are more musical, gifted singers, electric guitars, drums. But because of their ages cannot use their talents(gifting) within the church due to church policy(which we wholeheartedly agree with). But wondering would we be looked at the same and given the same acceptance if we scheduled “gigs” for our kids on Sunday mornings and started missing in order to grow them in their talents? It even sounds absurd as I am typing this…. We could “gig” them out on Sundays but I cannot imagine making this choice for our family.

    • jimpemberton says:

      Good question, Momtothree3.
      I’m a musician myself. The group I sing with outside of my church has a general policy not to sing on Sunday mornings. There are rare exceptions like when we go on retreat we will typically find a church near where we are staying to sing in. But our thinking is that we should be involved with our individual churches as much as possible, especially on Sunday morning.

      I also lead worship at a nearby retreat a couple of times a year, fill the pulpit at nearby churches occasionally, and find myself in churches on Sunday mornings in other parts of the world as part of mission trips. I do none of this outside of the auspices of my local congregation and what I do is therefore an extension of the ministry of my church. Even with all this I’m normally in my own church on Sunday morning.

      So, my thinking is this: If your children grow in the development of their talents and your church endorses their musical activity as an outreach ministry during Sunday morning, go for it. Otherwise, I’d say you need to keep them from playing elsewhere until they are old enough.

  210. Justin says:

    I keep the Sabbath so I think that having Sunday games allow my children to participate in activities. We honor God on His day and we go to church and fellowship and be with God’s people. I know there are other people who prefer games on Saturday, so if there is variety in scheduling for different sports besides just Saturdays, then more people would benefit. That being said I believe that whatever day you choose to worship, you should put God first on that day.

  211. Ashley says:

    Our children’s minister told me one time that his son had committed to his baseball team, and therefore that commitment came first. Made me wonder where the commitment to the youth group came… I myself have 4 kids who swim, and luckily we are usually able to choose not to swim the events that are on Sundays, though generally every couple of months we will swim (or be gone) from our home church on Sundays. I agree with all those who have said we can ‘do services’ and devotionals at the sporting events, and that is great – but the main thing is the fellowship with fellow believers preferably in your home church, and making sure that is priority, and that it matters.

  212. Valerie says:

    After raising 4 children, it is my and my husbands belief that each child watches what the parent does. The bottom line is if the parents don’t have the commitment to be in church instead of sports, when the rubber meets the road, the child will not either…We all are sinners…Sinners will use any excuse to not be where they should be. As a parent, I don’t want to do anything that will hinder my child’s following Christ. In the end, it is between the adult and God. It is important to say, the parents decision will affect the child forever! We are not judging to make these
    statements. It is out of guilt that people make the excuse that they are being judged. Why in the name of Heaven is there even a debate. WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT, THE SOUL OF YOUR CHILD OR A SPORTING EVENT?

  213. Jenn Ezell says:

    This is AWESOME!!! I agree with you 100%!!!!!!

  214. carol kapnick says:

    I have not read all of the comments however, I did read all of your post. I have recently found our family struggling with the same but I always go back to the same thing. When we choose anything over God we are making that our God. The 10 Commandments states we should have not other Gods before Him. Decisions to be a faithful follower of Jesus is not always the easiest decision because it often goes against the flesh. However, when we realize God holds our future then we should also realize that when we follow Him and do His will, nothing is impossible. He will give our children the opportunities He feels is in their best interest if we allow His will to be done in our lives.

  215. Jerry Jones says:

    Regular games on Sunday should be a definite “NO,” but we had a good solution to those occasional tournaments that had us playing Sunday morning. We had our own church, complete with guitar/singing. We would look at the game schedule and find a spot before or between games where those who were interested would gather, worship and then have a short lesson (which actually was more like a Sunday School lesson, i.e., lots of interaction). For some of the kids, this was their first church experience.

  216. RSmith says:

    I realize that I am a bit late to this party, but…😉

    I read through many of the posts to get a feel for whether or not I would be offering something that had already been stated many times. I don’t think that I am, but apologize in advance if anyone feels that it is more of the same.

    My husband and I first faced this issue in the late ’90s when our boys were in junior high. Basketball practice began to be scheduled on Wednesday nights, which had always been, in my husband’s and my opinion, the most important service of the church week. We did not want our son to miss out on a valuable hour of Bible study for practice. We felt that the hours he spent in practice each week far outnumbered church every week. After explaining our decision to our sons, we explained our decision to the coach. He was not pleased, but that was not our concern. Our son came home many times in the next few weeks to tell us that his friends parents had decided to make the same decision since “nothing had happened” to our son. Eventually, there were so few players at practice that the coach changed the end time of practice. The team’s performance did not suffer for it.

    While our boys were in high school, one of them played soccer. He had made the All Star team every year but one. And each year we attended church services and then went to the games. Sometimes we were on time, and sometimes we were late. My son never complained. He enjoyed both church and soccer. The year that my son did not make the All Star team he came home from school one day appalled at what he had been told by his friend, the son of the All Star team coach. The coach had “not allowed” him to be on the team because he knew that my son would arrive at the tournament only after going to church, and he didn’t think that demonstrated team commitment. My son knew that I would find out if this were true if he asked me to, which he did. So when I saw the coach again, which happened to be after the All Star tournament, I asked him about it. His initial response was that he would have to tell his son not to go to school and tell what they discuss at home. He missed the point of my questioning.😦 His next response was that “it didn’t matter in the end. So many people went to church and skipped the game altogether that they had to forfeit.”

    I have always been of the opinion that our busy society will take what they can get, whether it is from family time around the dinner table or worship time. It has grown accustomed to Christians frequent willingness to give up some of their worship time, which, as I stated earlier, is already less than the time investment into most sports.

    I don’t judge anyone for their individual choices, but I do wonder if anyone ever considers the witness that they are giving to the world when they conform to the world in ways that seem insignificant. I recently read a statement that went something like this: We are not on this earth to live in ways that feel good for the moment. We are on this earth to spend our time preparing for eternity. Each of us that claim to have a personal relationship with God must determine how He wants us to spend our time preparing.

    • Denise Rogers says:

      Good evening,

      I am wondering how I can unsubscribe from this blogpost and also not receive emails from this particular subject. I know I submitted my info to receive it, but have since changed my mind.

      Thank you!

      Denise Rogers

      Sent from my iPad

      >

  217. Kate Woltersdorf says:

    I am a child of a Children’s Pastor at our church and I was very into my sport (rifle). Even though it wasn’t a team sport, there were several matches that would fall on Sundays. I worked really hard to be as good as I was at rifle and wanted to be able to play at the collegiate level, but from day one my parents told me that church and God would always come first. The only time I missed church for my sport ambitions was if it was a state qualifier for nationals or junior Olympics. I missed more school days for rifle than I missed church. I went on to not only compete in college but to be on a division one team. I really attribute my success to getting to be a student-athlete at a division one school to God. I remained faithful and made every Sunday a priority because I knew rifle would not give me eternal life. Because I followed and seeked God, he gave me the desires of my heart. You don’t have to weigh between God and sports, pick God and he will reward you!

  218. Rocky says:

    I am a coach and have coached for 25 years. In order to be able to have kids play/ and me coach, many leagues will work with coaches. You can’t “not” play on Sunday, but we always request that we DO NOT play on Sunday mornings. This is for all league games and my teams play 10 months a year. For tournaments this is not possible, but found if families are missing 1 Sunday every 6 months that’s pretty good. If you coach or your kids play have the coach ask the league for some help with scheduling. It works! And typically if you ask earlier enough in the process they can help out. And when it does a nice “thank you” gift is always good too!

  219. Dianne Raco says:

    Our pastors have a young family and as Jesus Christ is the Sabbath we alternate our services. One week it is Saturday night 6.00pm then the following week it is Sunday at 10.00am. Our leadership group has also been trained to run our services so there is slways a continuity in teaching etc. works very well for us.

  220. Kerry says:

    I agree with you although to get the answer all you have to do is look around. The world is becoming more liberal, not more conservative. Hence more agnostics and atheists. Therefore the powers that be (people who make decisions in this country), whether it be a principal or a soccer league organizer, decisions are now being made to accommodate what is becoming the majority.
    So the bottom line is, Sunday will soon be just another day and me and you will be the new minority fighting for OUR rights.

  221. Debra says:

    Our problems have never been Sunday morning games. We have had to deal with Wednesday afternoon practices, meets, and games that extend into the evening. Finally my youngest son is a Sr and I thought we were finished with activities interfering with Wednesday night activities. I have pulled my sons from practice many times to get them to church. Games have been a different story. I never felt I could pull them from a game when they were committed to the team. This year the Sr. Football mothers wanted to feed the Sr boys on Wednesday nights after practice. I asked if we could move it to Tuesday night because my son said if he had to choose dinner with the football Sr’s or church, he would pick church. They would not change it so every Wednesday night the boys met and my son went to church. At 18, he was old enough to make his own decision. I am proud of him that he stood his ground.

  222. Ursula Stinnett says:

    We found ourselves in the same situation with baseball. My husband and I decided that we would let our boys play ball with the understanding that if there was ANY way we could go to Sunday School, morning church, or evening church; we would go for that portion of the services. Sometimes we got home at 5:00 and church would start at 6:00. There was never a question of “Are we going?”. It was understood that we were. We felt that giving our boys this opportunity to do play ball was also important. We didn’t want them growing up resenting church because it kept them from doing something they loved. We made sure that they understood the importance of church and its role in a relationship with God. As they have grown older they are choosing different paths that do not require them to miss church and they both see the value and importance of being at church, being involved, and attending church activities. In the end, for us, it worked. Praise God!

    • Tina says:

      From an athletic perspective: sports teach things that church cannot. Unfortunately, being part of a team means be physically present. While it is difficult to find time that works for everyone’s schedule, generally children are only available over weekends. Last time I checked, church is open all the time and there are services multiple times on most days of the week. While families might prefer going on Sunday, what’s the problem with being flexible and going to another service and perhaps meeting new folks? I know, undoubtably, my God doesn’t care what day and time I show up.

      • mkheadley49 says:

        Not all churches have multiple services during the week. I grew up going twice on Sunday and once in the middle of the week … sacrificing some school activities and practices because of that. However, the church when my children grew up was different. No Sunday PM service, but small group fellowship, and only a Wednesday night class service. My biggest issue with missing on Sunday is not taking the Lord’s Supper. THAT is my issue. If other services are available where the Lord’s Supper can be taken on Sunday, then I can be flexible. I have a son who wasn’t allowed to participate on church conflicting teams. He started refusing to attend church when he was in high school. He’s nearing mid-twenties and is now in rehab. Maybe if we could have been more flexible, he’d be in a better place in his life now. Children can be taught what is priority without having them make sacrifices they do not yet understand. There has to be a better way. I think it needs to start with the sports organizations and athletic directors … they need to understand compromise as well.

        • Free Indeed says:

          You can take the Lord’s Supper anytime… I eat His flesh and drink His blood at home all the time. Come on people, He is everywhere!

  223. chrislnelson says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from but I think the most telling part is the phrase “when we were kids”. You grew up in a worldview that saw things like church attendance as the measure of spirituality but has led to the black and white sacred and secular thinking we are trying to combat now in the church. Yes it’s important for children to develop relationships with Christian youth but what about the relationships your child is building with kids on the soccer team? People they can invite to church and witness to. One of the students in my ministry misses periodically for sports but he invites more friends than any other student I have because he isn’t trapped in his Christian bubble. I think it’s important to move from the idea that the Church God established is something we do on Sundays and that the only important comrodery is Christian.

    • Randy says:

      wow!! read your bible the whole bible. you do not have to miss church to witness. I cant see how missing church to invite someone to church will work. We need to take a stand!!! Christ is either first or He is not!!

      • Ray says:

        Thanks Randy for bringing some common sense to this discussion. Most of these replies sound as if the ONLY time to be a witness or Christian influence is on a Sunday while missing church to attend a completely meaningless game. I am the parent of two athletes. We traveled to tournaments on weekends and missed some games because we found a place of worship to attend on Sunday mornings. It was an amazing witness to the other families that we loved God and His Church so much that even when we were out of town and away from our home church we found a Body of Christ to connect with. We taught our children 5 priorities; 1) God 2) Family 3) church 4) school/work
        5) hobbies/sports. These are in order. They know that the church is not God, they also know that sports are not God. To be a good athlete you must attend practice. To be a good Christian you must be connected to a community of faith. I find it laughable that so many are so quick to make the accusation of legalism to those of us who believe Church attendance matters. The results of a soccer game played on a Sunday morning are soon forgotten while the results of building a relationship with The God of all Creation and His Church are eternal. Sunday Morning is not the only time we can do that, But it is one of them.

    • oujasper says:

      Oh, you make a statement here that I’ve seen a lot in this discussion. It’s about relationships with Christians. While that is important, that is not what worship on Sunday is about. Worship is not about us or others. It’s about God. Worship is to pay homage to. Sunday worship is all about God and our worship of Him. We have all the other weeks, days and hours to form relationships with Christians and others. Sunday worship is all about the Father, and remembering the sacrifice His Son made. IT does not trap us in a Christian bubble – it frees us. Please don’t confuse worship of the Father with building relationships. That misses the point. Failure to worship the father is not an option. Who would want it to be?

  224. Charles Thomas says:

    At the very end of your article you ask your readers to pray about it. My parents taught me and my sibs that we should never need to pray about non-negotiables when it comes to our Christian principles and Godly responsibilities. We never prayed about should we give a tithe or offering, should we read our Bibles and pray daily, should we share a gospel witness when the opportunity arises, etc. I am 60 years old now and I know of countless numbers of people who have gone astray and left the church because their parents refused to take a principled stand for “…not forsaking the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is…” Today, my four sibs and I are all still faithfully attending church and serving our Lord with our mates. I don’t believe a true believer/parent should pray about whether or not to attend church or a sporting event. JUST DO IT!

  225. Mark S says:

    Quick story. 40 year ago I was an 8th grader who’s parents put a priority on attending every church service available to us. I enjoyed church and made friends there but more so I learned about Christ and gained a healthy view of the faith community and my commitment to them. At 12 I joined the town basketball program during its first year of existence and did not think to ask when the games would be played. During the first week of practice the coach announced our game schedule as being on Wednesday evenings, prayer meeting night. Without hesitation, this 12 year old walked right up to the coach and announced that I could not make it due to church. It was my decision. Then, at practice the next day they announced that the game schedule had been changed to Sunday afternoons. I learned a big lesson from this about trusting God.

  226. fierja says:

    I know this is a touchy subject and our family has wrestled with this in the past. The Bible commands us to come together on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) to worship God and have fellowship with our Christian family. Our church family had services on Sunday morning and evening so we tried to work it out so that we could make one of the services. However, there were times we would be out of town on Sunday. On these occassions we would try to go to a congregation in the area if we had time or we had our own devotional as a family. I think the important thing is for your children to see that your commitment to God and his commandments are the priority. Being a Christian is not just attending services, it is about how we live our lives and being a good example to our family and those we come in contact with. If, however, missing services was more than just a once in a while occurance I know for us the decision would be not to miss worship services.

  227. Brett says:

    Or imagine if the 20 families who missed church used that chance to connect with the other families who have never been to church or don’t go regularly.. To be distracted by a sporting event on a Sunday is not the sports fault, is the fact we let it distract us. Get rid of T.V on Sundays or stores being open, movie theaters, restaurants etc. They are distractions as well!! Or use every chance as a opportunity to spread the message of Jesus. Walk up to a parent you never speak to and strike up a conversation like “man missing a great message today from my pastor” or something like that. A relationship with God is not about missing or making Sunday service. That mentality is what is wrong, every minuet of every day is to make disciples by spreading the word not just attend Sunday services. There are so many other FALSE IDOLS going on, on a Sunday besides youth or adult sports.

  228. Rebekah says:

    I think the bottom line is about family. The coaches, the teachers, the whoever, aren’t in charge of a family, the parents are, and ultimately, God. I see a lot of families where sports run the whole show, and they are more important than family time, than school, than church, etc. Because you wouldn’t want to let anyone down! Who are you really letting down? I agree, parents need to stand up and say, my kids will not be able to attend games or practices on Sunday, or nights they have church. Period. Set the priority and stick to it. Sometimes it might be hard, but then your kids will learn lessons about sacrifice, and being a good example.

  229. Dan Teeter says:

    I appreciate the author’s final thought, “I will encourage you to take some time out to prayerfully consider this, talk it over with your spouse, and make sure your priorities determine your calendar and not the other way around.”

    The easy answer seems to be “no” for all Christian families. The danger here in saying “no” for every family in every situation could be legalism. God’s will for someone’s life could very well have different answers for different families. I’ll share my personal story in this exact situation.

    When I was 9, I asked my parents, (who happened to be missionaries to the First Nations people in Canada) if I could play youth football. When they found out that the games were played on Sundays, they told me no. The next year, when I was 10, I asked again if I could play. They told me that they would pray about it and discuss it with me after they took some time to pray about it. When they discussed it with me, they told me that church was a priority and that I needed to be at church every Sunday, BUT if the games were during the morning service, I could attend the evening praise and worship service instead of the regular morning service. I had to be at one service or the other. Period.

    When they prayerfully considered the situation, rather than just saying “no”, they felt that God was warning them that I could become bitter as a young person and rather than seeking God, I might be upset for missing out on something, such as sports, that was not in and of itself sinful, as long as it was kept in it’s proper place in terms of priority.

    I had accepted Christ at 5 and was baptized when I was 12. I regularly attended church all of my life, and my family and I are church members today.

    Today I am a Head Football Coach at a High School in Washington State. The opportunity that I have to model Christ to many students and athletes every year is my calling. Had my parents not prayerfully considered this dilemma, but rather just said “no”, legalistically, they would not have been seeking out God’s will for my life.

    In closing, I’d like to re-quote the blogs final sentence: “I will encourage you to take some time out to prayerfully consider this, talk it over with your spouse, and make sure your priorities determine your calendar and not the other way around.”

  230. Michele K says:

    People risk their lives in many places to choose Jesus. If our big dilemma is how to say “no” to a game….we need to think about how little faithfulness to God we have in this country.

  231. Free indeed says:

    This makes me so sad that people buy into religious duty and misunderstand the nature of God. He is fun-loving, affirming of us and our kid’s passions, He lives outside of the four walls of a church and relationship is not determined by church attendance. I know more alive, free and passionate God-lovers outside of church in its current state, than in it.

  232. Unah says:

    I was raised going to church every time the door was open. Wednesday night service, Friday night youth activities, Sunday morning and night, even Saturday mornings to help with whatever community service was going on, plus Bible school and youth camp was a must. As a child and a teen that is where my social group was, and that is where I found Jesus. Now as an adult in my 30s I am so utterly burned out and fed up with church and it’s politics. Some days I don’t care if I ever set foot in church again. I feel more of a desperate need to protect my son from the selfish, narcissistic, paranoid, dominionist organization it has become. Sometimes a soccer game can be more important than going to one more service. Sometimes it is good to go out into the world and see it the way Jesus did. As a place filled with people who have hopes, dreams, and who love their families. Instead of seeing them as the evil others who are out to get us.

  233. James Scott says:

    I believe that a family can win.

    We are faithful church goers. We also knew the pressures would come to our family.

    When our children were young, before the pressure presented itself, we sat them down and explained what was coming.

    They played sports and were musically talented. We told them that as they began to excell, and as they got older, opportunities would begin to present themselves to participate or perform on Sundays. However, it always started on weekdays.

    We helped them understand why it was important to decide their choice before the pressure came. We taught them that pressure can cause irrational behavior and ultimately uncalculated decisions.

    Sure enough. It happened. In their early teens, the coaches and headhunters began their approaches. The championship game was scheduled on a Sunday, and my son was the pitcher. Without everyone there, in their place, the team would suffer.

    This was it. My 12 year old son had already made his choice 2 years prior. It wasn’t difficult for him either. Was the team disappointed? Yes. Did he get phone calls from other players? Sure.

    He never did miss church. He later went on to Bible college to further educate himself, to find a wife of like faith and follow God in raising a Christian family.

    The girls did likewise with their opportunities.

    As a parent, it wasn’t easy. It was very difficult. In the beginning, it is hard, but the ending is much, much easier. (Ecclesiastes 7:8a) “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof:”

    Someone said that at the end of our lives we will make one of two statements. “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had.”

    I’m glad we did!

    • Nana says:

      I love that you started early in your children’s lives. It totally makes a difference. We did the same thing and our children have followed our example with my grandchildren. We have been fortunate that where they attend school has not had huge amounts of activities on Sundays. But, many schools are even having graduation on Sunday. Some are on Sunday morning, not even in the afternoon. There are many pressures on The Family. It is not easy to keep families together, especially to attend Church together.

    • Kitty Doza says:

      Thank you for your beautiful testimony of the Lord honoring your commitment to honor Him. And when you followed up with what later happened in your son’s life (He never did miss church. He later went on to Bible college to further educate himself, to find a wife of like faith and follow God in raising a Christian family.) it just showed us the reward God has for being faithful. Again, thank you for your comment.

  234. Lisa says:

    Yes church is very important. As a preacher’s family with a star athlete we were in this predicament (and received much criticism from our church family). There will always be people in the mix who do not make church a priority and keep this Sunday sports thing going.
    My question to all of you is this….where do you and your child make a bigger witness in the church building on Sunday mornings where most people there already know the message or on the athletic field where many do not know the message. Do you and your child make a witness for Christ at these athletic fields? Aren’t we told to go into ALL the world? If your child shows Christ in him on the field and you show Christ in you on the sidelines you’ve witnessed for Christ in a way you couldn’t have in church.

    • Jen says:

      This is an “easy out” or “kinda sorta good excuse” to keep doing sports on Sunday… Remember the Sabbath and keep it HOLY…set it aside as different. If Jesus sitting in front of you when you were making the decision of whether or not to honor His father’s command or to go “witness” to those poor lost souls playing Sunday sports by being a really good sport and an awesome sideline parent…which would he tell you to do?

      • Jessica V says:

        Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:25

        • Amen to that ,I was just going to say the same thing. MUCH MORE AS YOU SEE THE DAY APPROACHING,! and look at the empty pews at church….Also JUST ONE LIFE WILLSOON BE PAST ,ONLY WHATS DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST!!

      • meg says:

        amen!!! 4th commandment!

  235. Tate says:

    I was a Youth Pastor for sixteen years, obviously I wanted to see families in church. That said, God created family before He created the church. The place where children will receive their greatest influence will be in their family. If God is present seven days a week in your family then it is okay to miss Sunday morning service every now in then. Your children need a well rounded life. There will be a day when they will move out from your home and go to college, or move into an apartment with friends. They need experience in dealing with life outside of Sunday of church. allowing them some room to do this and approach things in a Godly manner is important. Feeling as though if they don’t go to church they are doing something wrong is not healthy. My experience is, it can be one of the things that can end up driving a child away from God. Allow your child to see the love of God in everyday life doing everyday things including sports. Teach them that they don’t have to be in church to take a few minutes to honor God and to show Him that they love Him and will put Him first. Then go out on the field and play their best have fun, and do it in a way that would make God proud of them. I have seen teammates come to the Lord because of this. Don’t put God in a box. What you might think the Coach meant as manipulation, God may have created as an opportunity for something else.

    • Kristin says:

      Thank you! I love this reply – we choose not to play on Sunday mornings – but even then, we sometimes find ourselves out of town on Sunday due to an away tournament. We had a wonderful coach one time that said special prayers every Sunday morning we were out of town in the Hotel Lobby. It made such an impression on everyone – Here we were a bunch of families, made up of different religions – but sharing our love of God with the group of people we were spending our whole weekend with. Coming from the Coach it made an impression on the boys on the team as well.

  236. Donna says:

    Church attendence is down for a multitude of reasons, not specifically sports. It is not provided by God, it is provided by man, and as society progresses intellectually, the need for organized religion decreases. People I know maintain their relationship with God without the interference of men collecting their money every week, and acting supieior to everyone else.

  237. Why does it feel like the author has made a god out of having church on Sunday? Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.