For a baseball player, chapel is church. Since we play games every Sunday, which take up our whole day, this is our time to sit down together as a group of Christ-followers to be with the Lord and to hear His Word.
Over the course of a long season, chapel is one of the things that a baseball player knows is safe; they know they can go there and be encouraged by a short, impactful message that will help carry them on to the next week. Every guy is at a different place in their faith. Some guys go home every day to read the Bible, but for some, chapel is the only time that they hear the Word of God each week. Yet for everyone, this time is really important.
As we play a game that has so many distractions — a game that can become an idol if you let it — you can end up planning your eating, working out, sleeping, relationships, and every other aspect of your life around baseball. The higher you go in baseball, the greater the responsibility and the distraction can be, and as a result, the greater you need to rely on God.
Chapel is a good time to remember what is important. It’s also something that can lead to further Bible studies together on the road or great conversations on the bench. It’s 15 minutes where you bond on a different level than just baseball.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” — Matthew 12:30-31
The veteran players on our team have a big influence on the younger guys, not only on the field, but in chapel as well. If you look at the veterans on our team, some of them have played more big league games than anyone. We are looked up to as leaders and naturally, we have an “in” with the younger players simply because we have the knowledge and experience they want to learn from. When we can also speak into their lives on deeper matters — on things besides baseball — it provides a huge opportunity for us to share Christ’s love with those who are eager to hear what we have to say.
I remember one day when I was young in my career, playing in the minor leagues, we went to a Bible study in spring training with the Atlanta Braves and they said that John Smoltz was coming. With John coming to speak that night, our showing was incredible. There were so many people there who wanted to hear what he had to say. It was powerful to see a future Hall of Famer come and pour his heart and soul into a message for us.
I know I was on the fence at that time in my own faith, as I’m sure many others in the room that night were, and we were able to see someone who we really looked up to share his faith through the platform he’s been given. By this platform, many are able to come to know and trust in Christ.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” — Matthew 5:16
— Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.