One of the fastest growing areas of ministry in the United States today is sports chaplaincy. Not only do most major sports teams have chaplains, but now even college and some high school programs have chaplains. These chaplains have unprecedented access to these athletes who will be future leaders and (inevitably) influencers of American culture.
Incredibly, despite these strategic opportunities, the ministry of sports chaplaincy is relatively unknown. We are working hard here at RTS Charlotte to address this important ministry niche through our Chaplains Ministry Institute (CMI), in partnership with great ministries like the Sports Chaplains Network.
Connice Dyar (RTS Charlotte class of 2007) is on the front lines of chaplains ministry as she labors at Joe Gibbs Racing, a NASCAR team right here in Charlotte, NC. Joe Gibbs, the famous former head coach of the Washington Redskins, is a committed evangelical Christian.
I have begun a new series of blog interviews entitled Where Are They Now?, highlighting some of our alumni over the years. I ask each alumnus a series of questions that show how God is at work in their lives and in their ministries (for the prior installment see here, here, and here). Here is what Connice had to say:
1. What are you currently doing?
I am a Chaplain with the Sports Outreach Group and thru them I am on the Chaplains Team at Joe Gibbs Racing as the Womens Chaplain. I also do women’s Chaplaincy work with women through out Nascar. I am also the Women’s Director/Asst. Director for the Charlotte Fellows. Being on the Chaplains Team, i get to do a variety of ministry. The main ministry is evangelism and discipleship. But it is carried out in a variety of ways.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
I originally started at RTS to just take some classes to be better equipped at teaching God’s word as I had been leading women’s studies and doing mentoring for a number of years. My last child was almost done with homeschooling and I was planning to being able to spend more time doing teaching and mentoring. I got so hooked and loved the classes and the learning so much that I knew I had to stay and finish and get my MATS.
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
I think it was Dr. Oliver in his Sanctification class that said, “You will never drift toward holiness, it must be intentional.” The class that was my most favorite and most stretching and growing in knowing God was Dr. Kelly’s class on the Trinity. I knew being in seminary would enlarge my knowledge and understanding but I was unprepared for the times that I was so moved in my heart that I had to just bow my head in class and talk to God and give thanks for who He was and what He had done.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I love the variety and the creativity you can use and fun you can have doing evangelism and discipleship. Looking for ways to connect and build relationships with different women, having fun teaching the scriptures and seeing women grow in who they think and know God to be and what it means to follow him. It is also fun to partner with my husband to do ministry together. We get to do a lot of pre-marital and marital counseling and those are special.
Its also great fun and a blessing to be a part of a team. At JGR, there are 4 of us on the Chaplains Team and we have about 450 employees so its a busy place.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
Its always a struggle time wise. There are many opportunities and needs but only 24 hours in a day, which is true for everyone. I am always trying to be flexible and think outside the box for ways to communicate and be available. Within the organization we have about 33 female employees and the rest are male with the majority of them having wives or girlfriends. The challenge is that we all don’t meet weekly as in a church. So I’m always looking for ways to connect to the women that aren’t there at the shop but are home with kids or working.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Knowledge is good and needed but it should be one of the means to know God better and to love Him more. I think when we finish seminary we should love God so much more than when we started, we should love people more and we should want to be evangelists when we finish. And we should also be so much more humble. How could we not after spending several years focusing on God and who He is and what his word says.
Check out this great video about Connice’s ministry: