Serving from the Sidelines

Kyle Embry
July 24th, 2019

As a youth leader, we have all spent many hours on the sidelines watching countless practices and games with school sports.  We love our students and our students love their sports.  Whether it’s football, basketball, soccer, track, baseball, or golf, sports have become such a huge part of our communities and, if not careful, an all consuming part of our student’s lives.  Once a student transitions into high school, sports takes on a higher level of commitment and sacrifice, which often leads to them missing some important church activities and services.  Instead of fighting the school and coaches, how about embracing the opportunities that are available and make a difference in student culture by going to them, where they are.  

FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) provides a certified and legal opportunity for youth leaders across America by placing them within the sports team as a ‘Character Coach.”  A Character Coach is a trusted volunteer presence with a sports team that assists the coaching staff with character development of student athletes.  Local FCA representatives will interview, process, and place leaders within the community onto local teams. With so many sports teams, the coaches are overwhelmed with parents, schedules, game strategy, practices, and school schedules. Many Coaches are looking for an outside, trusted voice to communicate, challenge, and serve their team.  The Character Coach will reinforce character and healthy habits for competing on the field and living off the field.  The majority of High School sports teams are being encouraged to build their players both on and off the field.  Our student athletes need character and our coaches need help.  

THE KEYA Character Coach is a trusted presence on the team and at school!  This is not another thing.  Character Coaches assist coaches in doing their thing.  As such, there is great flexibility with each character coach program.  The character coach can do as much or as little as the coach and school will allow.  Furthermore, the character coach will be trained to know that authentic presence leads to more opportunities and involvement with players, coaches, parents and schools.  The character coach becomes a trusted resource over time.


This Character Coaching idea is only one conversation away from you having an impact on students in your city.  I have personally helped many youth pastors become Character Coaches and myself worked with teams.  Once the season is over, I will ask each of them if the time and commitment were worth it.  Without hesitation, they all vocalize quickly that it probably changed them more than the team.  Here are some of the benefits they shared: 

  • Taught them to serve outside the church 
  • Opened their eyes to student culture outside church 
  • Learned leadership outside church context  (Mars Hill not Mount Carmel). 
  • Gave them opportunity to minister to coaches and their families 
  • Connected them to other churches and pastors in their city

Most of the wording is centered about “being” outside the church.  None of them mentioned anything about growing their group or ministry.  They realized that the power of the program was just “being” available which is very Biblical and simple.  Just by showing up to practices and games, each youth leader was able to serve, challenge, and make a huge difference with that team.  What a difference that each of us can make by simply serving coaches and teams!  

For more information and to register as a Character Coach: dfwfca.org/charactercoaching. Or search in the App Store on your mobile device: DFW FCA Character Coaching 

Kyle Embry

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.