On File

Sports ministry lessons

onfile_eng_insI grew up in The Salvation Army and always had a passion for sports. My father loved basketball and football. So, it was common to see us organize games in our front yard with neighborhood kids, or with children from the local corps.

Today, I try to instill in the cadets at the College for Officer Training (CFOT), the importance and value of running sports programs. Whether it’s a pickup game such as from my youth, or a program for the community designed to bring together both adults and kids. Sports can bring people from all corners of the community into a Salvation Army. From there, personal relationships and conversations about the Lord begin.

The participation in sports by CFOT cadets during officer training can also serve as a life lesson. When we organize a game of volleyball or basketball, we try to teach them it’s about more than athletic performance. It’s also about presenting themselves as a Christian example before, during, and after games. Eyes are on you at all times when you are part of a team—and when you become corps officer. It’s okay to get angry or frustrated when things don’t go your way in a game or while running a corps. However, how you deal with those “bad calls” is what people remember.

Sports also teaches cadets how to assist at times, rather than lead. No matter how talented cadets may be, they will not always be front and center. Some have no problem accepting this, while others struggle. They all have the benefit of learning this rare and invaluable lesson before their first appointment.

It’s powerful to see cadets pick up a volleyball or basketball and enjoy team play for the first time. They might not have had these opportunities in their younger years or  maybe they were too shy or lacked resources. Now on a team, they learn to work as one with their teammates, who will also be officers learning from them. To have each other’s back during every “game” is a valuable lesson for all of us.

—Robert Meitrott,
Director of Sports Ministry,
College for Officer Training

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Digital Edition: January/February 2017