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Competitor's Creed: 17 Years Later

Published on April 09, 2020


It was April 2003. Dan Britton had just been called up by FCA to move his family across the country from the D.C. area and into Kansas City to become the new Vice President of Ministry Advancement. Full of zeal and with no shortage of ideas, Dan got to work.

After years of working in the field, Dan had a pulse on what local staffers needed. As the Director of Northern Virginia, he faced the juggle of doing hands-on ministry with coaches and athletes, but then stopped to write resources for those he discipled.

“When I got to the FCA Support Center, this was one of my commitments: I wanted to equip local staff, leaders and volunteers with Christ-centered, world-class resources that communicated the Gospel and explained what FCA is all about.”

Dan’s team wasted no time. Within the first year, FCA began to release new resources like Bibles with study guides, multi-week team studies, Huddle leader playbooks, sports-specific New Testaments and more. Yet it didn’t fulfill one struggle Dan continued to see.

“Our membership process in the early 2000s was off, something about paying $25 to get a magazine and t-shirt felt weird and awkward,” he said. “That’s not what being a member of FCA is about.”

While 25,000 people had become official “members” of FCA, the ministry was actually reaching millions more. Dan began asking for input; something about the way FCA sought participation had to change. As ideas and inspiration began to swirl, Dan called “one of the most creative writers I know,” his longtime friend John Patton.

TeamFCA Insert-07-1“What if coaches and athletes committed to being part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and it meant they committed to play the way God wanted them to play? Serve God the way He said to serve? Glorify God the way He wants to be glorified—they gave Him everything? Those questions inspired the Competitor’s Creed.”                      
                                                                        —Dan Britton


They’d met through an FCA Huddle at the University of Delaware. After a weekend FCA retreat where they roomed together, Dan and John forged a friendship that, as of today, has spanned more than three decades.

Following graduation, the two kept in touch as they lived both near and far from one another. While they were both based in the D.C., area, Dan, then new to FCA staff, asked John to help at Huddles and speak at events. As accountability players, the two connected every Friday morning. When new opportunities led them each to move out of D.C., the friends kept in touch.

In 1993, John created a gift and greeting card company that designed and manufactured Christian products for non-Christians through powerful message-centered prose. Being cut from the same cloth—one that’s woven with edginess, boldness and in-your-face intensity—Dan became a great sounding board for John’s new product ideas.

“Dan and I had a great friendship and working relationship,” said John. “I always wanted his input because I valued cutting-edge communication.” It was through this collaboration of Christian products that the stage would be set for the friends to co-create a message that would come to appear in unpredicted, unprecedented ways.

“The Competitor’s Creed was powerful. Compelling. Supernatural. It wasn’t written by committee, it wasn’t iterative with input from thousands. He’d shoot it to me, I’d shoot it back, we did that back to back a few times, and that was it. I never thought anything of it, but I was excited. I had no idea how it would go out, or how those who read it would see and gain vision. ”
                                                                                                 — John Patton

A Pledge-inspired Creed

“I remember sitting at my desk and getting Dan’s request to look over a pledge thinking, ‘I have no time for this.’ I was trying to keep the wheels on the bus at my company. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit led me to stop—Hallelujah—and I began to jot down some stanzas.”

John and Dan 2 Web
Dan and John, co-writers of the Competitor's Creed

In Dan’s search for a truer, more heartfelt way for supporters to join the movement at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, another youth-focused campaign caught his eye: True Love Waits. The campaign led youth through Bible-based teachings on purity and abstinence. As a result of the campaign, many youth made personal decisions to sign a True Love Waits pledge.

“I saw True Love Waits and thought, ‘maybe FCA needs more of a pledge, something where athletes can learn the values and sign on to playing and living at that standard. That would make joining FCA more of a heart issue and not a money issue,” Dan said.

Acting upon his inspiration, Dan began writing a statement around FCA’s Core Values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence. Yet when he read his initial draft, he realized two things. One, FCA needed more of a creed than a pledge. Two, he needed writing help.

“I wanted this to be a holistic statement, something that led competitors to commit to the values but not through a step-by-step process… something that felt more like head versus heart,” Dan said. “It didn’t have that edge, the fight and an ‘I’m going forward!’ feel. So, I called the most creative person in the world: my friend John Patton.”

TeamFCA_WelcomeBrochure_09-10_Proof6b WEBFortunately, John made the time to review “A Christian Competitor’s Creed” that Dan sent over. A back-and-forth, rapid-fire exchange took place over email. It felt like John was perfectly prepared to get Dan’s request. He’d just spent years coming up with messages to weave into products that ranged from greeting cards to Christmas ornaments. As John and Dan poured their hearts into a draft of the “Competitor’s Creed,” six stanzas full of heartfelt promises, strong statements and compelling heart cries began to flow.

“It’s incredible, after four days, we finalized the Competitor’s Creed. We finished in April 2003 and not a single word has changed since then,” Dan said. “It was literally supernatural.”

To show just how God-inspired the Creed felt, the friends agreed to not put their names on it. “We didn’t say ‘written by’ on purpose,” John remembered. “We knew that the best way to get mass adoption was to leave our names off of it.”

Unbelievable Buy-in

From the beginning, it felt like a special anointing was on the Competitor’s Creed. Dan recounted, “I presented it to the leadership team and said, ‘This is it,” and they unanimously agreed. It’s not about paying to be a member, but it’s about committing our hearts to be part of this group.” Joining FCA switched from paying and wearing a T-shirt to making a faith decision to wear a Christ jersey every day.

With the adoption of the Competitor’s Creed, membership materials changed and early signers began to receive a printed card in the mail. Competitor’s Bible, Competitor’s Creed Bible studies and other key ministry tools with the stanzas went out. Coaches and athletes alike ate it up, from middle and high school players to college and pro athletes.

SteveF2 Web
"I decided to commit it to memory and reciting the Competitor’s Creed became a feature of my keynote and platform speaker presentations."             - Steve Fitzhugh

“When I first read the creed, I was smitten,” said Steve Fitzhugh, former NFL player and National Spokesperson for the FCA One Way 2 Play Drug Free program. “It spoke so powerfully to the Christian athlete and to my steadfast resolve to honor God with my commitment to the faith. I decided to commit it to memory and reciting the Competitor’s Creed became a feature of my keynote and platform speaker presentations.”

Not only would Fitzhugh perform the Competitor’s Creed for live audiences, he also produced an audio recording that, decades later, continues to be downloaded and requested. To this day, Fitzhugh continues to recite the Competitor’s Creed at the end of his talks to Huddles, FCA Camps and other events.

“The identification as ‘Christian’ is used so casually today. It’s difficult—particularly as an athlete to be taken seriously when it comes to your faith. There is no escaping the true identification of your heart and commitment to God with the Competitor’s Creed. Although I did not write it, its message boldly articulates how I feel as a competitor. It resonates so powerfully with not just athletes, but all committed disciples of Christ.”

                                                                          —Steve Fitzhugh


The Coach's Mandate

“We had coaches coming to us saying, ‘this is written more for the athletes,’ yet they too wanted something to follow and rally behind so they could also stand with FCA,” Dan remembers. With the vision of reaching all coaches and athletes with the Gospel, Dan and his team looked for ways to specifically rally coaches since the Creed was originally written with athletes in mind.

They found the Preacher’s Mandate originally written and published by The Cornerstone Trust. They secured permission and adapted the language to apply to coaches. The Coach’s Mandate became the heart cry for coaches who were ready to join FCA.

“I hope people can see and hear the story of the Competitor’s Creed and understand that no one needs to get the glory or get rich in order to make a massive impact. We just need to follow the nudge of the Holy Spirit and look for opportunities to serve.”
                                                                                   —John Patton


To the Ends of the Earth

01_CoachesMandateRussian“The crazy thing is the Competitor’s Creed is even more impactful outside of the U.S. than inside,” said Dan, who is now the Chief Field Officer of FCA. As the ministry’s grown to become global under his leadership, Dan has watched the familiar six-stanza Creed pop up in several of the 90-plus countries where FCA now does ministry.

“I’m in Korea, and I look over to see huge, massive banners of the Creed, translated to Korean, hanging up,” marveled Dan. “Or it’s printed on bookmarks in Ukraine. In Russia. It’s been translated to Mandarin. Thai—it’s all over.”

While the two friends hoped the Competitor’s Creed would be dynamic, they never imagined its worldwide adoption.

“This is one of my top lifetime achievements,” said John, who has experienced a successful career full of many accomplishments. “To be involved with Dan on this and to be part of the process—it’s a glorious contribution."

The Creed Today


Today, the Competitor's Creed and Coach’s Mandate, collectively referred to as The Creeds, continue to motivate coaches and athletes around the world to be their best. They serve as a guiding light, a standard, for those who’ve committed to play for Team Jesus.

Appearing in both printed and digital resources, in dozens of languages, the Creeds continue to do what Dan and John initially hoped to see: prompt competitors to make a heart-level decisions to play for Christ. Though they’ve reluctantly agreed to disclose that they authored it, they hope the story inspires others to take bold steps of faith.

Although it has come a long way in 17 years, in many ways, it feels as though the impact of The Creeds has just begun.


Ready to join FCA? Sign the Competitor’s Creed or get the Coach's Mandate ministry tools.