Above: Enroy Talamahina (Auckland), Kevin Goldsbury (Wellington), Paul Martell (Wellington), Shane Auld (Southland), Rebecca Hawkins (National Office), Willie Bryant (Manawatū) and John Parker (Waikato) discuss the need for Sports Chaplains.
How many Sports Chaplains do we want?
National Director Phil Pawley posed this question at the SCNZ Regional Leaders hui in July.
100? 200? These seemed like big numbers, until he flipped it around and asked:
‘How many Sports Chaplains does this country need?’
From what we can find, there are about 16,000 sports organisations in New Zealand, covering 103 sports, and 374 high schools. So to place just one in each club or school would take 17,000 chaplains. Of course many of these organisations would need more than one chaplain.
‘When I heard that Sports Chaplaincy Australia has a goal of 50,000 Sports Chaplains I was gobsmacked! I wondered how they came to such a large number,’ Pawley confesses. ‘However, then I realised I was measuring the task by what I could imagine, and not by the need for Sports Chaplains, and by what God can do. Even if just 10% of these clubs and schools want chaplains, we will need somewhere between 1700 and 2000, and probably many more. So that affects how we must approach this task.’
Meeting the need
Pawley is convinced that churches have much more to offer their communities than many realise. He believes they need a change of direction and expectation to really have an impact. ‘We have to change our mindset from one that expects people to come to us, to one that has us going to sporting people and doing life with them,’ he says. He sees sport as a leading opportunity for bringing God’s love to the nation.
Regional Leaders from Southland, Wellington, Manawatū, Waikato and Auckland, discussed the future of SCNZ training in light of this perspective. This included making training more accessible by developing online modules, and increasing the amount of support for chaplains. They also discussed developing a public register of accredited SCNZ Chaplains that sports organisations could access, and expanding Sports Chaplaincy into more regions. They identified nine more regions where they would like to see Sports Chaplaincy established.
The leaders reported a growing level of interest in Sports Chaplaincy, from high schools to professional teams. All of the regions have vacancies for Sports Chaplains. The main challenge is finding willing, pastorally-minded volunteers who have time to give to a local sports community.