Friday, October 30, 2009

In Reach, Then Out Reach

FCA Baseball focuses on both mentoring their own players and ministering to others.
Oct. 26, 2009

Two years ago, Bob Wiedemann started coaching an FCA Baseball team of middle school boys in Atlanta. At the time, two of the 12 team members were Christians. The team played about 45 games in the spring, and then did the same in spring 2009.

Now, of those same 12 boys, all of them have accepted Christ on the baseball field. In Wiedemann's words, it has gone from "inreach" to "outreach," as the team now travels throughout metro Atlanta and the rest of Georgia in an effort to not only grow as a team, but also impact others.

FCA Baseball teams join other teams and umpires in prayer before or after games.

"We have prayer prior to, during or after every ballgame with the opposing teams, inviting them to join, inviting the umpires to join as well," Wiedemann said. "When we travel throughout metro Atlanta, we fly the FCA banner. We've got FCA on our jerseys, on our helmets, so everybody knows who we are and what we stand for. They're paying close attention to us."

Wiedemann said it's very rare to play a game and not have an opposing coach, player or parent question someone on his team about their beliefs. This team ministry started in 2007 with five teams, but it has expanded to 15 today. The age groups range from 10 to 14, and the only requirement is that the head coach is a dedicated Christian.

All of the teams take a seasonal approach, so they stay together for a minimum of a full season. The advantage, Wiedemann said, is it takes multiple seasons to establish a true sense of community within the team.

"We can really, really get some depth into the ministry in that type of situation, which is really the advantage of team ministry," he said. "It takes a full season for it to really sink in. In season two it starts to go into the home, you start seeing some questions and things from parents. Coming into season three, it's pretty unreal what's going on."

Each team is required to do community service at least three times during the season. This involves going to homeless shelters, local food banks –– it really depends on the age of the kids. Every athlete and every coach on every team is resourced with an Athlete's Bible, meaning more than 650 people have received Bibles in the past two years.

The main benefit of the team ministry, though, is that it's reaching an area of the community previously uninvolved with FCA.

"This is a community ministry as opposed to an on-campus ministry," Wiedemann said. "It's just an alternative to the campus ministry that's currently being done. There are literally thousands upon thousands of kids playing community sports who aren't being touched, and this is a tremendous way to reach them."

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