Tonight is my daughter’s first practice for U8 soccer, and praise the Lord, I am not her coach! My coaching career was brief (One year with a 9-8-1 record) so I don’t think I’ll be in the hall of fame anytime soon. Looking back, there were several factors that played into my pretty awful coaching career. The first reason was I knew nothing about soccer and hadn’t played it since I was 7 years old. Second, I was coaching two teams: 4 year olds and 6 year olds. The saying, “Like herding cats” doesn’t even begin to describe it! But the main factor has to be my lack of focus on practice. I had 2 practices before the season started and that was it. We just played games. I believed the kids would learn on the fly and to be honest, with two teams under my guidance, I just didn’t want to be at the fields for five nights a week. So we skipped practices and just played games…and lost a good bit of them. Had we practiced more, perhaps I could have learned the game and could have then taught the kids how to play better. But I’m enjoying my coaching retirement, so I guess I’ll never know!
In discipleship, we’re not winning a lot of games. Baptisms, Sunday School attendance, and church membership across the Southern Baptist Convention are in decline. For an evangelical denomination, we’re not very good at evangelizing anymore. Why aren’t we sharing our faith? Well, for one, because the coaches aren’t sharing their faith. That’s why I’m thankful that our staff is committed to sharing our faith and holding each other accountable for doing it. That’s also why I am excited about soccer practice tonight, not because I don’t have to coach it, but because by not coaching I’m free to spend that time on the sidelines with the other families. Hopefully during that time God will provide the chance to start gospel conversations.
But another reason we aren’t sharing our faith is that we’re expected to go out and do it, to go out and win the game, without being provided a time or place for practice. I’m thankful that at Second Baptist we now have discipleship practice. On the third Sunday of every month (starting August 20th), Great Commission Academy is in session. We’ll meet at 5:00pm in room F-104 to learn the how and why of gospel conversations, to encourage one another by sharing our experiences in evangelism, and to have a chance to practice sharing our faith in a safe environment. Each meeting we’ll learn a different tool to use in sharing the gospel and practice it with each other. This way when you have the chance to share your faith with someone in your life you have already practiced it several times with another believer. We’ll also challenge and hold each other accountable to go out and put what we practice into action. We’ll plan and coordinate evangelism opportunities in our community.
Great Commission Academy isn’t just evangelism training, it’s training in discipleship as a whole. You’ll learn how to lead a person to Christ, but discipleship doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve led a person to Christ, it’s your privilege to help them to grow in their faith. You’ll learn about how to disciple a new believer in their walk with Christ, ultimately leading them in learning how to make disciples of their own. I may not be a good soccer coach, but I’m committed to being a great discipleship coach. I pray you’ll join me in that same pursuit at Great Commission Academy!