A pastor posted this cartoon in a PC(USA) Leaders Facebook group recently.

I believe the OP (original poster) was hoping for a few giggles and a warm sentiment about a young person nobly choosing church over sports on a Sunday morning. But instead, I found myself going back to it all morning with strong emotions.  As a person called to pastoral leadership and care for children and youth, this cartoon makes me CRAZY!


We, the church, are not sports teams and we don’t want to be. Our youth are often required to attend their Sunday sports commitment, and if they miss they face consequences for not attending. They have to show up for their teams. They are needed in that exact time frame for a game.


I do not ever, ever want to be a coach, I want to be these young people’s pastor. I don’t want to require youth to come and then shame them or punish them when they don’t. I don’t want to use guilt to make them show up, especially when these kids have absolutely no control over when their activities are scheduled. Sports can offer so much to our young people, but I have also seen sports wreak havoc on their mental health.  We aren’t coaches, this isn’t a sport. We are called to be different than that.


Churches have got to get out of the mentality that we are “against” sports and in competition with them. When you compare attending a game to going to church, it feels like we are comparing a potato with a dog collar… they aren’t even meant to be compared.


We are the church, their pastors, their mentors, their community of faith.  We are their safe place to show up as they are.


If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that God shows up outside of the Sunday morning experience inside a church building. We love people as they are and where they are. Personally, I love hearing stories of when whole families have listened to church online in the van ride to their tournament. Or when the family has to be divided the morning, one half at church and the other half at games, and they get to reconvene at dinner and share their days filled with stories of faith, teamwork, learning, and love. I have had youth attend virtual youth group meetings on the top of ski slopes and in the car rides home from soccer games. These are REAL examples from real families at Broad Street Presbyterian Church who are finding ways to worship and participate in sports and countless other extra-curricular activities.


In children and youth ministry, we need to take the creative spirit of the pandemic and creatively rethink schedules, rules, and routines of church and be the church for and with our young people.


If you are not under the age of 26 years old, you really don’t know what our young people feel like and the pressure they face.


We are not Gen Z youth right now; a generation facing adolescence in a pandemic and a renewed rush back into the busy culture of sports, music, college resumes, social media pressure, school expectations, etc. It is so hard.


Guilt and shame never win. Love these young people. Invite them into discipleship that looks like volunteering in the food pantry, playing noodle hockey, and making friendship bracelets, and continue to make worship engaging and welcoming to them when they are able to join us.


It is okay to miss them, it’s okay to feel grief and nostalgia. But Sunday sports culture has been here for almost 20 years now. So grieve, be sad and then get creative to love the heck out of these young people who are burdened with so many expectations. I am so grateful God loves them both at 760 E Broad St and on the field.


Next time you see a child or youth at church, what is a good question you might ask them besides the usual “how’s school”?


-Written by Brittany Porch



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  1. Beth Sauer October 13, 2021 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Well said Brittany!!! Support our kids any way we can.

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:01 am - Reply

      And we care about yours Beth :)

  2. Judith Siehl October 13, 2021 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Love this! Beautifully done.

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Thank you Judy :)

  3. Amy Sullivan October 13, 2021 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Yes, very well said Brittany! It’s almost like kids are human too? Thank you for advocating for their safety and an end to guilting and shaming them. We (big and small) are all trying to do our best. You nailed it: LOVE is the answer.

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:02 am - Reply

      We are all trying out best. I think I have the best job in the world getting to be part of the lives of our children and youth, glad your 4 are part of that.

  4. Rosemary Tolliver October 13, 2021 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    What have you seen lately that’s really beautiful?

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Great question!

  5. Jenni Dzwonczyk October 13, 2021 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    What’s your super power?

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:08 am - Reply

      Love this question. Minute is telling a preteen/teen that it is time to start wearing deodorant with it being a fun and funny conversation vs embarrassing… I swear it really is my super power.

  6. Lynnette Devanny October 13, 2021 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    This warms my heart! Hearing someone speak up about something parents and grandparents can no longer control is right and fair. This grandma wants to support and do whats best at the same time. This allows me to choose. Thank you so much for putting it out there.

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:08 am - Reply

      Thank you for the comment. Love of love and support for the awesome grandparents out there, superstars!

  7. Jodi Jarrett October 13, 2021 at 4:09 pm - Reply


    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:09 am - Reply


  8. Judy Chester October 13, 2021 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Nicely done, Brittany!!

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Same goes for our young adults, all the love to your 3!

  9. Bock DeVennish October 14, 2021 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Here’s a slightly different take on the cartoon. The young man belongs to two teams: the kids’ football team and the worship leading team at his church. He’s telling the football coach that’s he considers his commitment to the church to be more important than his commitment to football.

    This act demonstrates personal responsibility and integrity on the part of the young man. Were he my son, I would have been very proud of him. However, I would have been equally proud if he had gone to the pastor and explained that under the circumstances, his football commitment was more important that day than his acolyte commitment.

    The fact is that conflicting commitments are a fact of life. We must teach our children this and teach them that they have to be able to resolve those conflicts. We must provide guidance on how to rationally do that. We must also support them in those resolutions even though we may not always agree with their resolutions

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Thanks Bock, another lovely way to see it as leadership commitments and balance. It’s something all of us need to model, balancing commitments and discerning priorities.

  10. Jim Wilson October 14, 2021 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Hmmm… I don’t think that there is much doubt that if the church sets itself up as the enemy of kid’s sports in a competition for the kids’ time, we loose. But my observation is that we are a society that takes the over-programming of kids, and ourselves, as a given. We don’t see the benefit of sabbath for ourselves, so we don’t see it for our kids. That is a huge loss, that contributes to perpetuating a society in which everything is measure by achievement. Unless we as parents model finding time for sabbath, our kids will jump on the same wheel of measuring their lives by how much they can do as we have fallen prey to. So I agree we cannot make this a battle. But we can model not filling every moment with an activity. We can model that our purpose in life is centered in worship and gratitude, not in busyness. That seems harder than complaining about kids’ sports, but necessary.

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:14 am - Reply

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Agreed, less is more! Many parents commented on the renewal they felt when schedules got immediately decluttered in March 2020. It is taking a lot of discernment to figure out what to add back and how much, its a tough balance of too much, too little … and just right. We are working hard to make church not part of the busyness culture, but sabbath culture, which sometimes we get right and other times we don’t.

  11. Alison barret October 15, 2021 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    These comments and your words, Brittany, are thought provoking. And I love that BSPC represents and welcomes all kinds of differing perspectives. I, myself, will just add the acknowledgment that I am not under the age of 26. 😁

    • Brittany Porch October 19, 2021 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Wait, what? You are the coolest over 26 yr old I know haha. Thanks for reading the blog and comments and sitting with it.

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