Dear Band Director & Team Coach
An Open Letter
Dear Sports Coaches, Marching Band Directors, And All The Other Wonderful Adults Who Guide Our Youth In Amazing, High Commitment Experiences That We Cannot Provide For Our Youth At Our Churches:
Grace to you and peace, from the one who is, who was and who is to come. Amen.
Thank you for your mentorship, care, and support of our young people. You help the children of our church and our community unleash their God-given gifts, explore their passions, and develop their skills. On sports teams and in musical ensembles, our youth learn the importance of accountability to others, commitment to a shared vision, and the disciplines of practice, punctuality, preparedness.
"You help the children of our church and our community unleash their God-given gifts, explore their passions, and develop their skills ... We are incredibly grateful for what you do."
You provide our youth with opportunities our little church cannot. We cannot field a cross country or a tennis team, a marching band or a color guard here at New Joy Lutheran Church. We cannot surround our youth with dozens – let alone hundreds – of youth who share their passion and commitment to athletics or the arts. We don’t have the expertise to guide them in such endeavors. That is your spiritual gift, not ours. We are incredibly grateful for what you do.
This summer is a big deal for millions of Christian youths nationwide, including hundreds right here in Westfield and Carmel. Church mission trips and immersive faith experiences were canceled over the past two summers due to COVID. Summer 2022 is the first summer many of our high school youth can participate in high school church mission trips, faith-nurturing pilgrimages, and religious service-learning experiences. These summer trips are often mountain top moments of faith formation and spiritual renewal that these kids will get to experience just a handful of times in their lives.
Young people and their parents from my congregation (and undoubtedly from others in our community) will reach out to you in the coming weeks, notifying you of their anticipated absence from a week of summer practice or rehearsals because of a church mission trip. It is quite possible that this mission trip is terribly timed to coincide with an intense week of practice, rehearsals, or try-outs.
I realize that some coaches and directors bench players, demote musicians, or entirely remove someone from the team or ensemble for missing a week, or even a few days, of summer rehearsals. Despite the inconvenience and disruption their absence may create, I urge you to honor their faith commitment by excusing their absence and minimizing any punitive consequences they would otherwise endure.
I also urge you to expect these young people to do extra work before and after their mission trip, to schedule one-on-ones with a coach or peer leader, and otherwise to catch up on the lost practice time. As their pastor, I will certainly expect and support our young people to do so.
Throughout the year children and families of our congregation are absent from Christian community because of their commitments to sports, performing arts, and other school activities. This summer, I ask you to bless our youth in a week of absence from practice.
Thank you for your dedication to our youth. You guide our youth as they grow into their God-given gifts. Few vocations could be more sacred.
The peace of the Lord be with you.
The Rev. Chris Duckworth
New Joy Lutheran Church