This is my second year coaching an AAU basketball team from Portland area in Louisville. Forget my love for basketball and my love for coaching, our missional community decided this may be a chance for some of us former coaches & wanna be coaches to start serving some students from one of the most impoverished areas of our city.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
1) – Drop off Missions does not work
Last year one of the boys asked me, “coach are you just one of those church people that comes around Christmas.” I asked him to clarify & he simply asked, “are you for real or are you just going to be here for a few months and then leave.” These boys don’t need someone to swing by & drop of a turkey at thanksgiving, they will take it but its not what they need. They need someone willing to invest in their lives. We have to rethink the way we serve our communities so it is based on relationships!
2) – The Great Things of God Cost us Our Life
These guys are incredibly frustrating, and most days I walk away from my time with them thinking, “why am I doing this.” We go one step forward 2 steps back everyday on & off the court. This is life on life incarnational living & it means I need to exchange my ambitions for Gods. These guys aren’t a sermon illustration, they aren’t a blog post, they are a few of the people that God has called me to. It means I need to allow them to interrupt my pretty organized life, it means I need to have tough conversations that make me uncomfortable, it means I need to buy 12 boys dinner all the time, even when I don’t have the money and it means the more I want to be effective, the more I need to die to self! Most days, I wish ministry to these boys was easier, its not but that does not change my calling. We can’t undo 16 years of dis-function with one year of basketball and bible studies. This will take time!
3) – When the soil is rough – When growth happens its very rewarding
A few of these boys come to church every week at the avenue, they are loved by our church and they have found a home within our church family. One of our boys was baptized last year, a few of them have started attending FCA at their schools or churches in their community. We have had a ton of breakthrough conversations this year from everything to sex, to school, to the trinity. When God moves we are amazingly grateful because the mission is tough.
4) – It is a fatherless generation we are serving
We have 4 teams and around 50 boys in the program only around 10 of them have daddies living at home. They are longing for and desiring father figures, these boys call me for advise all the time. I have had the sex talk with many of them (its awkward enough with your own kids). I have provided & protected many of these boys when needs arrise. Dads we need to step it up and be prophets, preachers, providers and protectors of our families. We also need to invite other young men into those families. I am amazed that these boys want to be at my house everyday. They want to hang out with my family, play with my kids, do chores around my house, and one of the big reasons why is that they simply want to see how a healthy family works.
Avenue People – What is your missional community teaching you?
What are you learning through the people you are serving?