What is the Purpose of Athletics at a Christian school?

What is the Purpose of Athletics at a Christian school?

Blog Landing chevron_right What is the Purpose of Athletics at a Christian school? chevron_right

Join us for our Annual Athletics Celebration Evening on June 12, 7-9pm at the Middle School Gym.

Hiring for a new high school Athletics Director this year, and an elementary Athletics Director last year, has forced our leadership team to undergo some serious thought about what is the purpose of athletics at the Christian school?

LCS TALKS – SEASON 4: Athletics Directors Discuss the Purpose of Athletics (Coming Soon)

READ MORE: Benjamin Vrbicek, “Christian Coach, Help Athletes Cultivate Rightly Ordered Loves” Gospel Coalition (04-26-24)

How does athletics fit core values? Why is the athletics program a core pillar of our educational vision to be a thriving Christian community? What do we mean we when say Lightning Athletics will be the “most impactful athletics program” in our region? These are all questions we unpacked in our preparation to hire for the position.

Truthfully, these are questions we’ve also had to unpack in conversations with parents and students as our program has experienced growing worldly success winning banners and as many of our students have graduated from LCS to move on to post-secondary athletics opportunities. To be clear, banners and scholarships aren’t the goal of Lightning Athletics.

Lightning Athletics develops student-athletes who are champions in all areas of their life, character and community service.


We are all called to create a spiritual and character formation culture through athletics at LCS, but also through the arts, service learning, academic achievement and vocational STEM programs – our other core program pillars.

The challenge for any athletic director at LCS is recruiting good coaches who understand both the technical and tactical aspects of their sport, but who also have a passion for speaking into the lives of our students and discipling them on a path toward lives in Jesus Christ with “rightly ordered loves.” Some people in our community today, might observe that our student-athletes have their loves in the wrong order and that coaches and the parents cheering on our teams might also need a reminder of why we do what we do.

…A coach can help an athlete rejoice with her teammate even though that teammate beat her in a close race. He can draw out respect for opponents, encouraging harmony with those an athlete is competing against. A coach can cultivate an athlete’s identity in Christ such that she could win the championship and not become haughty, or tear an ACL and not be devastated. We could simply call these lessons “coaching,” but this kind of coaching is an opportunity to cultivate what Augustine called “rightly ordered loves”…


Athletics is certainly a program some families seek out when choosing LCS as their school, and that is great if we can provide programs where young people can pursue and practice their gifts. But it should never be an idol (something we worship) or our primary identity (I’m a basketball player). Athletics provides us all with an opportunity to pursue our unique mission as a Christian school community engaged in forming one another in Christ. Our soon-to-be announced new high school athletics director put it succinctly during his interview: “Athletics exists to serve the mission of the school.”

…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…

HEBREWS 12: 1-3

We love competing at LCS. We love wining banners. We love seeing our students achieve success and excellence in their sport. But that’s not why we do it. Our mission is to partner with parents to help them raise children who are confident in their faith and live purposefully aligned with the calling God has placed on their lives. We provide opportunities for students to discover their gifts and talents, and to pursue excellence in them for service in God’s Kingdom.

Winning and individual success may come as a result of our mission, but it is never the main thing if our loves are rightly ordered.

Lightning Athletics has three key objectives linked to our core values. (See 2400 ATHLETICS PROGRAM PURPOSE, GOALS & OBJECTIVES for more detailed overview of our goals).

  • Connect: Provide opportunities for connection in our community.
  • Thrive: Provide opportunities for spiritual and character formation.
  • Equip: Provide opportunities to develop life-long healthy habits.

Character counts for more than trophies in a school that values formational learning over transactional learning.

Do you not know that everyone competes, but only one gets the prize? Compete in such a way as to get the prize.


There’s a common attitude in community and school sports that could be summed up in versions of the phrase: “Nice guys finish last. You need a killer if you’re going to win.” A casual scroll through sports Instagram feeds would confirm that the culture of sport has become ultra-competitive, even at the youth level. What some coaches and parents seem to agree on is that while character is nice and all, it is the intensely focused nasty, winner-take-all, individual talent that wins the day, and that without one you simply won’t ever compete with the best. It’s unfortunate that many youth coaches see their sport as such a narrow, zero-sum game.

From the perspective of Lightning Athletics, it is more accurate to say that people who think “nice guys finish last,” probably don’t know where God has placed the finish line, and also probably don’t even know what race they’re running. Developing student-athletes with a character of Christ who are outstanding teammates and servant leaders will pay far more rewards than any banner or scholarship. At LCS we aim to form IMPACT Athletes.

  • Integrity of character (Titus 2:7-8)
  • Model excellence on and off the field of competition (2 Corinthians 8:7)
  • Perseverance and hard work (Hebrews 12:1)
  • Ambassadors for Christ in our community (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
  • Community impact through acts of service (Gal 5:13)
  • Team-first orientation (Romans 12:4-5)

If Lightning Athletics serves our mission as a distinctively Christian school, the fruit we will see is coaches, parents, teachers and students who know what it means to “run with perseverance” toward the right finish line and who encourage one another in “rightly ordered loves.” Lightning Athletics would then truly be the region’s most impactful athletics program.

Some helpful resources for parents and coaches: