This article appears in the Spring 2021 edition of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.
Just like nursing an injury on the sidelines can renew an athlete’s passion to play, ministering in the era of social distancing has reinvigorated FCA. The past year has served as a reminder that change and adaptation are necessary in ministry, whether it’s wanted or not.
It’s been good timing actually, because what began a few years ago in 2017 when President Shane Williamson stepped into leadership is continuing to take root. Standing on the shoulders of the past FCA presidents, he cast a rejuvenating vision for making disciples and led FCA to refine its game plan—the FCA Vision and FCA Mission, as well as the ministry strategy and methods.
As FCA has ministered to coaches and athletes all over the world throughout the past 12 months, this game plan has been put to the test. Yet FCA has seen that, even under pressure, it holds up. God is using this ministry to transform the world by Jesus Christ and make disciples who make disciples.
REFINING THE VISION AND MISSION
“Can we change the language in the mission statement to better represent what God is doing?”
It was a bold question the FCA leadership team dared to ask itself in the summer of 2017. Since 1954, the ministry had matured, the vision focused. At the time, new leaders had just taken their seats. As the ministry leadership weighed the question, the consensus was that the vision and mission statements needed to not only showcase the Gospel proclamation aspect of the ministry, but also highlight the discipleship focus.
“We knew we needed to come up with something good, otherwise we shouldn’t change something so important to the organization,” Chief Field Officer Dan Britton said. “We needed to feel God’s confirmation in order to make any kind of change.”
The team began tinkering with the mission but something wasn’t quite right. Eventually, they realized a full rewrite was needed, a process that became painful and hard.
“We spent a lot of time on it, and there were a lot of versions we talked through,” Britton said. “But when we finally landed on the now-adopted statement, there was immediate rallying around it.”
It was the confirmation they needed. The unity among leaders and the peace surrounding the changes gave them confidence to move forward. The FCA Mission evolved into:
To lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.
“We refined our mission statement to become a memorable, actionable phrase,” Williamson told the FCA staff at the global all-staff Realtime gathering in 2018. “It supports the idea that we’re a mature ministry that is committed to making disciples.”
While the mission statement involved a total rewrite, the vision statement was changed only slightly. But the change was a significant one. The statement was altered to read:
To see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
“Before, the statement talked about ‘to see the world transformed for...’ as if it was something about us, when in fact it’s really just about Jesus,” Williamson said. “No transformation occurs lest it occur by Jesus. And so our vision statement now points to this fact that it is Christ alone from which the power of transformation occurs.”
With refined vision and mission statements in place, the ministry was poised to fulfill the Great Commission like never before. A renewed sense of purpose filled the staff and empowered them to “go and make disciples of all the nations,” (Matthew 28:19).
Today, what began in 2017 has taken root among Team FCA. Staff across the globe are guided by the game plan. As the call to make disciples has grown louder, FCA has prioritized equipping staff with more tools and targets: discipleship resources, a “To and Through the Coach” strategy, and the development of the E3 ministry methods.
E3: ENGAGE, EQUIP AND EMPOWER
Modeled after the biblical concept of disciple-making and the Great Commission in Matthew 28, FCA synthesized its approach to making disciples around three key words: Engage, Equip and Empower (E3). E3 became the methods by which FCA would make disciples who make disciples. Here’s how it works:
“We engage relationally by connecting with individuals and through events in many different environments by building genuine trust, sharing our lives and sharing the Gospel. We strive to connect with coaches and athletes where they are on their spiritual journey.”
“After cultivating relationships and once coaches and athletes come to faith in Christ, we want to equip them with Christ-centered training, events, resources and ongoing support in what it means to be a follower of Christ, growing in God’s Word and applying it to life.”
“Once equipped, we empower faithful leaders who desire to use their time, talents and treasures to help other coaches and athletes experience the Gospel, grow in their faith and share Him with others. We desire to develop disciples who make disciples, assisting them so that they can in turn engage, equip and empower others to know and grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.”
The refined game plan, including the E3 methods, was rolled out to FCA staff in 2018, which in hindsight was providential timing. During unusual seasons of ministry, like the COVID-19 era, Team FCA was prepared. Not only have the vision and mission kept FCA focused and united, but the game plan’s guidance has led to the development of several disciple-making resources being used in both in-person and virtual ministry throughout FCA’s Huddles, Camps, trainings and 1-on-1s in all parts of the world.
In 2019, FCA equipped its team with The FOUR, a tool that shares the Gospel using four simple truths:
God loves you.
Sin separates you.
Jesus rescues you.
Will you trust Jesus?
This easily accessible resource has been well-utilized by staff and volunteers to introduce coaches and athletes to Christ. It is available in 10 languages. FCA has also published YouVersion Bible reading plans of The FOUR in multiple languages like Mandarin, Spanish and Russian.
Check out The FOUR at thefour.fca.org
Recognizing that a resource was needed as a follow-up to The FOUR’s Gospel presentation, FCA developed The CORE as a resource to explain eight essential aspects of discipleship.
The CORE helps coaches and athletes engage in God’s Word, get equipped on the basics of the faith and be empowered to help others grow in Jesus Christ. Released in 2020, it is already being used for Huddles and 1-on-1 discipleship across the globe.
Check out The CORE at thecore.fca.org
Since launching the first FCA Bible reading plan on YouVersion (a free Bible app downloaded by more than 450 million people with versions in over 1,500 languages) in August 2016, FCA has uploaded 138 individual reading plans, which have received more than 1 million completions. Offered in 38 languages, FCA’s plans have been a powerful way to get God’s Word into the hands of coaches and athletes, and to also minister to its own staff, a number of whom go through the plans together.
Search FCA in the YouVersion app
"No transformation occurs lest it occur by Jesus. And so our vision statement now points to this fact that it is Christ alone from which the power of transformation occurs."
-FCA President Shane Williamson
DISCOVERY BIBLE STUDY SERIES
Just this year, FCA launched a series of Bible studies using the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) method. Each study set includes methods, topics, stories and verses to guide staff, coaches and athletes as they get into God’s Word. During each session, participants are guided through a list of questions that help them apply the Bible to everyday life. Throughout 2021, each DBS set will correlate to the Pursue ministry theme.
Find Discovery Bible Studies at links.fca.org/dbs
FCA IN ACTION
FCA is grateful to God for His protection over the ministry and His leading. Years ago, He began preparing the ministry to raise up a new generation of disciples who make disciples within the athletic community. He directed FCA to develop new discipleship tools that have been used around the world both in person and virtually, so ministry to coaches and athletes can continue no matter what.
As FCA has rallied around the Great Commission and encouraged teammates with themes such as Let’s Go! and 100%, an incredible harvest has been and continues to be reaped.
For instance, in 2020, Hall County FCA (Georgia) Area Representative Doug Pena (pictured left) took a group of high school athletes through The CORE for eight weeks, and all students experienced life-changing impact. One student in particular wanted to understand the concepts on a deeper level, and he and Pena walked through the gift of salvation. The student acknowledged Jesus as his Savior, and Pena continues to see this group of athletes going deeper in their relationships with Christ and one another with help from The CORE.
Another story comes from Ukraine where Kiev Area Representative Ira Chorna started a virtual Huddle for female athletes. One of the participants was a professional soccer player named Anna. She began asking many questions. Chorna and Anna began going through FCA’s The CORE together and Anna began seeing her influence in the sports world differently. Her dream is now for every member of her soccer team to know Jesus. She’s empowered to share the Gospel and help others come to know Christ.
One intern in Ukraine, Philip (pictured right), was so affected by the concept of The FOUR that he shared the Gospel with his friends using The FOUR bracelet and continues to have spiritual conversations with them.
Stories like these come in every day. Each testimony of how God is using FCA’s game plan to fulfill the vision, pursue the mission, strategize the ministry, and provide effective methods and resources motivates the team to keep going, keep presenting the Gospel, and keep making disciples out of a wholehearted devotion to the pursuit of Christ.