Youth Sports vs Sunday Services : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

A friend of mine recently enrolled his son in a youth sports program that for the next 16 or so weeks will require him to be away from church on Sunday mornings. My friend whose son is 9 or 10 believes that this program may allow his son to get a scholarship to college.I think the sport is wrestling.

He told me that he feels his relationship with his pastor once very warm and cordial is cooling because the pastor doesn't appear to approve of his decision. [My friend is a major officer in his church]

My question to this community:

As Christians should we sign up our children to participate in programs that will require them to be out of church on Sunday mornings? [The wrestling program in question starts at 7 or 8 most Sundays pretty ruling out attending an early service which his church does not offer.]

Second, is church attendance necessary for young people?

Third, my friend said he would be upset if the pastor did not re-nominate him to the Trustee Board, (however my friend's recreational schedule does not allow him to attend many of the meetings held during the week and now he is not in church on Sunday.) Should he be upset? Should the pastor re-nominate him when it appears he is more committed to other activities?

Kinda makes you go hmmmm?

-- Anonymous, December 16, 2003


Bro. Harold,

You strike a nerve.

1. Our children need to be in church. Period. When we sign them up for programs like this, we shouldn't be surprised when they stop attending church when they are older. It wasn't important to them or their parents then; why should it matter now? "Train up a child in the way they should go..."
2. I applaud the pastor for sticking to their guns.
3. God provides scholarships and degrees, not man.

Here is a story:

A good friend of mine (a former pastor) has a son who was an excellent baseball player. When it came time for the Sunday leagues, Dad took him out. It cost the son potential scholarships. But Dad sent him AND the Lord a message:

God first. Everything else second. OR "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God..."

The moral to this story? That young man is now a pastor of a 2,000+ member church in Texas.

I understand where the parent is coming from. I have a potential Heisman Trophy Winner/Rhodes Scholar/Nobel Prize Winner/Actor at home (he is 16 months old). But even at 16 months, he knows that if it's Sunday, and he or Mommy or Daddy isn't sick, then he is in church (he already has his Holy Ghost Dance down)...

Of course, to be fair, he doesn't have a choice. 1) he is a child. 2) he is a double PK.

-- Anonymous, December 16, 2003

Harold -

Is there any end to the questionable choices we make? Is it OK to take time off to attend Frat meetings on Sunday, put in 9 holes of golfIn my official capacity as Church School Superintendent I see this "dilemma" regularly. Church school attendance takes a back seat to the recreational/athletic demands of my young men and women. I have even heard it said that many of our collegiate students should not be expected to attend Church School because they are in college! Nevermind that the college is local (Florida A&M or Florida St. Univ.), the apologists for low spiritual expectations genuinely believe that Sunday should be a "day of rest for our college students". Now this line of reasoning is not only nonsensical but insulting to those young adults who refuse to allow athletic competition or "college activities" interfere with their Sunday obligations. The uncomfortable truth is simply this - Church School is not considered a high priority for many of our teenagers and young adults. Once attendance becomes optional, Church School participation drops faster than a rock in the river. Until adults, parents and church leaders, change the low expectations we place on our teenagers the problem will go unchecked. QED

-- Anonymous, December 16, 2003

Thank you all for your entries. My daughter and I have been praying over a situation and we've got the answer, although I believe I ignored the truth all along.

My daughter was able to get seasonal work at a local department store in Philly. This job has her working Sundays. She attends church regularly and quite active in two choirs. She has missed services for the last couple of weeks due to her job. The company has offered to hire her in a permanent part-time position. For a college student this is wonderful to give her extra spending money. She said she will tell them she can only work Sundays during non church hours, or no Sundays at all. God bless you all! Thanks again.

-- Anonymous, December 16, 2003


For fourteen years I worked part-time at a local department store. Often, especially during the holidays this required me to miss worship at my church. Despite my dismay at doing so I learned a valuable lesson in it.

First of all, the true Church and worship is with you wherever you may be or wherever you may go. God, dwells within our hearts and goes with us in whatever situation we may face and wherever we may go.

God is also present wherever His people gather and call His name. Thus, I was able to attend worship in many churches not my own. Some were even AME Churches which held worship service at 8:00 a.m. or at7:00. p.m.

Most often, however I attended the Episcopal Cathedral at 5:45 p.m. for Evensong. This was one of the nearest churches to where I worked. Since all Methodist and Episcopal Churches are directly descended from the Anglican Church, an added blessing is that I found the Episcopal worship to be quite similar to the one I knew and loved as an AME. In some ways the Episcopal Church is more like the Church that Allen knew than some which presently bear the name and are called AME.

One final added blessing is that every Episcopal worship, including weddings and funerals include the Sacrament of Holy Communion as well. Thus, I found myself attending worship at the Episcopal Cathedral not only on Sundays but on Wednesdays also in order that I might partake of it.

God allowed me to supplement my income as I needed at that time and through it all He renewed and increased my devotion to Him. I now find myself still often in attendance of the Episcopal Church. So in my efforts to adjust to the scheduled I had to endure and in my attempt to not miss church. I found myself attending worship more frequently than I had once previously done and I also found myself enjoying the worship experience more as well.

-- Anonymous, December 16, 2003

This is a complex issue.

I am curious, I believe that there is an association of Christian Athletes, I wonder what they recommend. I know professional teams have chaplains that hold services for teams. Also maybe the family could worship together before the match?

I believe that adults probably can work on Sundays and not suffer from the loss of corporate fellowship and worship time, as long as they find an alternate time to attend services and also are able to participate in Bible Studies and prayer time at thier own church. It also depends upon the spritual maturity level of the person. I have found that over an extended period of time, missing Sunday worship has been detrimental to the person and the relationship that they have with the church and with God. Going to service at a church outside of your own home church is not like going to service at your church. This is especially true if you participate in the service. You will be giving up the opportunity to serve God in the worship service. Although Sunday worship is not a law or is not key to salvation, you may be missing out on growing spiritually.

For a young person, there is also the example that it is setting. It is very important for them to learn 1. that serving God involves sacrifices at times. (even financial) and 2. that your faith is more important than what the outside world places importance upon. So, your faith and your God should be before sports on Sunday or even a scholarship if it contradicts your beliefs. Otherwise when they become older they will have no problem with skipping service to tailgate at a football game or because they were out late the night before or they will start attending the shortest and most convenient service possible in order to meet an obligation without interrupting thier life (*ouch*).

There is also the point that when young people go into the world on a first job or to play sports, they will be spending Sundays with people who probably are not Christian or who may not be setting a Christian example on Sunday mornings, so you would be directly taking them from one extreme and exposing them to the other.

-- Anonymous, December 19, 2003

Almost forgot... Mary, tell that daughter of yours (*wink*) I am proud of her for making that decision. I was just telling someone the other day about her baptism and how it is hard to believe that she is a college student now. You have done a wonderful job.

-- Anonymous, December 19, 2003

I think that it is okay for young people to participate in activities that meet on Sundays. First of all, most children tend to participate in one sport that lasts one season. If not going to church for 16 out of a 52 weeks a year is creating a situation where spirituality is compromised and worshiping is threatend, then I think that something else is amiss rather than the lack of church attendance.

I ran track as a young person and had to compete on Sundays. At the meet, gospel songs were played over the loud speaker for an hour before the meet started. There would be a prayer, more songs and then the meet would get started. Plus, all the athletes would be praying throughout the day for God to spare them from injuries, or to improve their performance or to just plain win.

Seriously though, When the season was over, I was back at church. For those athletes who were not going to church, it is because they (usually their parents) didn't want to go not because they couldn't go to church. And in my athletic carrer, competing at an athletic event has NEVER been one of the excuses I've heard about not being committed to the church. No one forgot about God.

When I competed in college, I took my Bible with me as did many others on the team. We had CD players with gospel CDS and we listened to the gospel station on the radios in the hotel rooms if we were out of town on a Sunday.

I say all of that to say this, I think that we should support our young people in their endeavors, especially if we can nurture their talents in a positive way. When we AS ADULTS allow young athlete's competition to outshine practicing of our faith is when we go amiss. There are plenty of opportunities to practice your faith on a competing Sunday. Play music in the car while driving to the meet. Pray before and after competition, remind children that God has given them the privledge to compete in sports. Have children pray before they leave for their competition. (And the prayers don't have to be "please Lawd help us to win"; they can be for and about family, friends and community). Make sure that children are in church the Sundays they are not in competition. And, make sure that children participate as much as they can in the church activites such as the Christmas play, Easter play and other similar events.

I don't think that God wants us to sacrifice our dreams and talents. I think that he expects us to be able to modify and adjust. God has given us talents; He expects us to use them. God knows there are people who attend church Sunday after Sunday and don't do a thing while they are there (this includes listening to the sermon). Some children almost live in the church all of their youth sacrificing other activities. Then these very same dedicated church goers run for the hills (from which NOT cometh their help) when they turn 18.

Are these aforementioned adults and children any better than the compete-on-Sundays athletes who may not always be at church, but don't forget about God?

Just a thought...


-- Anonymous, December 19, 2003

Maybe my question was not clear. I was not asking about pro athletes or about alternative modes of worship. I do not understand how one can in the case of Sis. Terry say being absent over 30% of the time is not problematic. You cannot miss 30% of most class sessions and still pass the course. You cannot miss 30% or even be late 30% and keep a job. But church be absent 30 - 40 - 50% of the time. God understands and how do children learn about church and what it offers unless they go to church.

When children participate in youth sports programs they are not allowed to approach anyway they want to. They are trained and the lessons are rehearsed over and over again until they get it right.

Yet it appears that a strong commitment to church and to understanding God's word is overbearing and unnecessary.

I just do not get it.

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2003

My argument is that life is about maintaining a balance. I am not promoting missing church. I got the feeling, from this conversation, that young people who do not go to church because of extracurricular activites for a microcosm of time within the year is wrong. I don't think that is a fair assesment. I am saying that the pursual of other activites that are positive but are not church related are ways in which young people can also broaden their horizons and have a joyful life. The church is an entity that teaches skills that are helpful to a young person's well being. Sports, dance, music, etc., as we all know, also teach skills that are helpful to young peoples' well being. I attend school to be trained to be beneficial to the financial productivity of my society. I don't go to church to be beneficial to the financial procductivity of my society. Being absent 30% of the time at church and loosing sight of your religion has more to do with attendance. Something else is going on, I think. Plus, with all of the meetings (like bible study, afternoon prayer, etc., etc), that go on in most churches, if you attended only on a Sunday, you'd be in the same attendance boat as the extracurricular types.

I will not apologize for my experiences as an athlete. I will not believe that my parents were incorrect for thier decision to help me to pursue my talent. I had fun, met a lot of wonderful people, got to travel, learned great interpersonal skills, learned to celebrate achievements, learned to become a team player, and learned to accept loss and disappointment. I also learned that sacrifice brings great rewards. All of these skills were reinforced when I went to church. And I think that I am a better person for being blessed with BOTH experiences. I believe that other young people who have a church life, and who also have a talent that they have choosen to pursue, are just as blessed as I.

The Church is not an edifice; and, it is not a good attendance record. Let us learn to encourage our young people to be the best that they can be, in a positive way, inside and outside of walls. I think that we will all better benefit in the end. Nothing good comes out of making a child a feel bad because their talent can't allow for them a perfect attendance record at church. Let us encourage our young people to remember the church always, live the church everyday, and to be just as committed to the church in the in and off season as they are to their sport.

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2003

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