So, she did it. She made a rep hockey team. We let our daughter try out for a hockey team and she made it. We knew the commitment level. We knew it would make life a little more exciting and lot crazier. With our son already playing high level hockey, we knew what we were in for.
Although no one has ever said it out loud, I am sure there are those in the church who wonder why we allow our children to be in hockey. Why would we let hockey get in the way of faith? I sometimes ask that question myself. Certainly, my prayer each August is that our hockey schedules will allow us to still attend church regularly. (For most teams, you sign on, and then wait until the Fall for your schedule.)
You see, being part of a Christian community is important to us. Our family is involved in our church, a lot. We have friends in our church and so do our children. The good part of this is that is means church is much more to us than one hour on a Sunday morning. If we miss Sunday worship, we will see our community at youth group, at meetings, socially, and even keep up through social media. Our service is even available live, online, every week, and can be watched on YouTube later in the week. (No, it is not the same, but it still connects us to our community.)
There are lots of parts of hockey I love, but one of the greatest joys is it puts us into a new community. It put us into a community where we can subtly share our faith. We meet new friends who learn that we are rushing away from practice to…go to church. Our son meets new friends who find out that his junior youth group is fun, and that they can join. Hopefully, through our actions and the actions of our children, they can see Jesus.
If you have hockey—or swimming, or dance, or soccer, or band—families in your church, support them. (They likely feel enough guilt without you adding to it.) Let them know you are praying for them. Let them know they are part of the faith community wherever they may be. Connect to them through social media.
As a church, consider how you can help support them too. Can they view or read your sermon and bulletin announcements online? Are there opportunities outside of Sunday morning to connect or even worship? Messy Church is a great program that allows families to worship together and can be held any day of the week. Also, consider sending out a weekly email to families to keep them in the loop when they are away. Even better, include a devotional on the same theme as your Sunday morning programming so they don’t miss out.
For this season, we are once again able to worship most Sundays with our community. I can’t believe it, but I am thankful that my son’s practice is at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, well before our church service. Our daughter’s practice ends 45 minutes before our church and the rink is only a two minute drive away. So, most Sundays we will be there—maybe a little sweaty and with the kids wearing their team warm-up suit—but we will be there. But, for those that can’t be, please be there for them when they are struggling with the fact that they cannot be there with you. Attend a game and a cheer them on. Show your love and support. Be their community.