This weekend was an amazing time at the 12th Annual Father & Son Bowl. What started out as a flag football game with some dads and sons after church one Sunday has become an incredible event with over 1,200 players! It is awesome! Darin & Caree Clark have such a passion for impacting families for Christ and the Father & Son Bowl is truly a labor of love. Surround by 300+ volunteers from their church family, Darin & Caree work to make this a great experience for all. And, it is working! Wow – God is truly “turning the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the sons to the fathers.” Malachi 4:6. This is spiritual transformation in action through football.
Some of my biggest highlights this year:
- The MVP Sunday – Two years ago, Caree had a vision to add a second dayto the bowl for boys who are fatherless. It is incredible! Children’s homes from all over the Southeast bring their boys, and men in the church step up to play with them. Amazing vendors provide free food, there are MVP t-shirts for all and awesome player bags. It is a celebration! To see these young men play, be encouraged and grow in confidence makes it all worth it. James 1:27 says, “The kind of religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” These young men hear about Jesus and are challenged to live their lives for Him. This is working to change a generation through love and football.
- Darin sharing Christ to all the dads before the games – What motivates Darin is that he did not have a great relationship with his dad growing up. Now Darin is the dad of four boys. Before each round of games, Darin brings all the dads into the tent while the boys stretch out. Darin talks to these dads about how God transformed his heart through Jesus Christ and how he is endeavoring to be the dad he wished he had to his boys. Darin challenges the men to step up and be spiritual leaders in their homes, workplaces and communities. Watching Darin inspires me. My prayer is for every person who is a Christ-follower to be this bold and to leverage their influence for furthering God’s Kingdom in the workplace, through social media and in the community. I love disciples of Christ who are on fire for Him! What can each of us do to make a difference?
- The joy on kids’ faces because they are playing football with their dad – You have never seen smiles this big! You have never seen touchdown dances this good. It is joy in action. I talked to a grandfather who told me, “My grandson said this is the best day of the year! I said, ‘What about Christmas, your birthday or when we went to Disney World?’ And, he said, ‘No, none of that. This day playing football with you and dad.'” Wow! Or, seeing a dad who volunteers each year playing for the first time because his 5-year old son is finally old enough. The joy on the kid’s face, but also the dad’s is indescribable. Creating a clean, fun, safe environment for families to connect to one another and to Christ. Pure Joy!
- My oldest daughter, Grace, leading the Hype Team – Okay, I have to admit I was a little unsure when Darin asked Grace (who is in 8th grade) to lead the Hype Team. How was this going to go? How would she do recruiting people and leading adults? Wow – she blew me away! She exceeded all of our expectations. Watching her and McKenzie confidently asking people to volunteer and then seeing them take their spreadsheets to put people on fields & golf carts was so cool. She took her role seriously, and did a great job! (insert proud dad!). But, what it reminded me was this – we need to encourage and challenge our kids to step into spiritual leadership. From volunteering at a church or a local ministry, to doing something to help others, we need to believe in those coming behind us and help them step into spiritual leadership roles. Aren’t we thankful for the people who believed in us and allowed us to do things for the glory of God? Now, it is our turn to invest in others. Wherever you are serving, look for someone younger that you can bring along with you. You can truly make a difference that will last for generations.
- Finally, awesome volunteers who invest their time in making a difference – To see so many people from church serving together brings tears to my eyes and a huge smile to my face. So many people are involved in making this experience life-impacting. From everyone at registration to field generals and even the worship team singing the National Anthem, it is awesome to lock arms with the most gifted, passionate, loving church family and invest our time together to make a difference in families and our community. It is not easy, and it is usually really cold. But, no one complains; in fact, it’s the opposite, people laugh, pray, sing and cheer. And, I believe God smiles too. I believe God loves watching His people serve and love others. It is who God is, and we are His people. This is the church being the church. So, great job, team! Great job, church!
This year, we are expanding to another weekend as we host a Father & Son Bowl in Nolensville. The goal is to help connect fathers & sons in a new community and to invite people to our other Rolling Hills Community Church campus in Nolensville. It is more than football – it is life-change. The smiles on the faces of the kids and the hugs from their dads make it all worth it.
We all benefit as families and communities grow stronger. Therefore, let’s pray for God to use football or whatever else He so desires to further His Kingdom. Let’s all join Him in what He is doing in our community and throughout the world. There is such an incredible joy when we step out and share Christ with others. We are better together, and we can make a difference. Just look at some of these faces…