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Leadership in Adult Sports Leagues
By: Bob Schindler

The season had just concluded. I was evaluating the adult basketball league with the EC Sports Leadership Team from East Cooper Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. EC Sports began in the spring of 2005 with an adult men's basketball league as their first initiative. In this fifth year, there were many things to rejoice in:

This past season, 120 men participated (capacity for them). More than half of the players were non-Christians, many of whom were invited by other non-Christians who had previously played.

About 20 different participants told their stories in pre-game talks all about three minutes, all well-received.

Logistics went better than ever as people stepped up to take on various responsibilities.

"Coaches made good decisions during this season. They did a really good job, especially the new coaches," said one of the members of the Leadership Team.

This statement struck me, having heard so many stories of the exactly the opposite as I talk with Sports Ministry Leaders. I asked why this season was different.

It took a few more questions to unpack it all, but this is what they told me:

* "We tried to step up our efforts with coaches. We had two coaches' meetings so they could pick the one they could attend."

* "We cast the vision of the league and told them the expectations we had of them as coaches." (at the coaches meetings)


* "We met with one coach who didn't do a good job last year and told him so. We actually didn't invite two coaches to come back."

* "We took recruiting new coaches more seriously. We looked at their spiritual maturity as well as other factors."

* "We teamed new coaches with another coach if we thought it was needed."

* "We went to coaches, especially the new ones, during the season and asked how it was going and gave them additional input."

My response "You exercised good leadership and these guys responded!!!!"

Honestly, they seemed a little surprised by my comment. I am not sure, but it seemed like they hadn't connected their efforts to the fact that their coaches did much better this season.

"Don't miss or downplay this connection. There is a tie between the fact that your coaches did better and the efforts you made. You guys took a step of faith and God, and these coaches affirmed that step," I went on to say.

"Thanks, that is encouraging to hear," they all said with what I heard as a humble joy.

This experience reminded me of a few things. First, I saw what good leadership looks like. 

Careful recruiting, courageous vision casting, bold expectation setting, and concerned coming alongside those we lead to gain and give feedback were key components to the effective efforts of the EC Sports Leadership Team.

Second, I saw the need we all have to connect what we do with the progress of the ministry. We all want our efforts to "move the ball down the field," but we often lack the perspective that we are really making a difference. When we get that perspective, it empowers us.

I close with a couple of questions: (You may want to illicit the input of others around you.)

How are you doing at expressing effective leadership these days check yourself against these components of careful recruiting, courageous vision casting, bold expectation setting, and concerned coming alongside?

What is the progress God is bringing about through your efforts?

As you work through these questions, I hope that God gives you a clearer picture of the progress being made and of the connection between your leadership and that progress, encouraging you in the process.

Bob Schindler heads up the Leadership Center for Church Sports Outreach (CSO), www.csosports.org.

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