Growing up as a kid in Indonesia and Malaysia, I got the disease honest–everyone was a rabid fan of bola sepak — football.  From the World Cup to the German Bundesliga, me and my friends would stay up into the wee hours of the sticky, tropical nights to watch strikers Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Maradona embarrass one hapless goalie after another via satellite from the other side of the globe.

Now that I’m back in the States and living in Aurora, it’s a lot harder to keep up–especially with the old-school TV antenna in my attic.  But the other day an article in ESPN the Magazine caught my eye titled, “Youth, Practice and the Everton Way”.  It told the story of Tony Farrell, a football coach from the English Premier League club Everton, who has brought his unique coaching philosophy (“The Everton Way”) to youth soccer leagues here in the U.S. .

As I read, I took notice of a couple interesting facts which surprised me.  1)  English Premier League football clubs have to recruit and train young footballers who are within an hour’s drive of their stadiums.  Translation:  Their young talent must be homegrown.  And 2)  Among the simple, powerful tenets of  “The Everton Way” is this nugget:

The best coaches should teach the youngest players, because lifelong habits are formed early.

So what’s the point, Jeff?  What in the world does “The Everton Way” have to do with Blanchard Alliance Church?  Well, we are three full years into the development of Blanchard Warrenville as a second campus.  We have roughly 130-140 regular adult attenders and 70-80 kids from birth through elementary.  We are overrun by “young talent” and anyone who visits our campus on a Sunday morning knows it!  Of all the pressing priorities of developing a second campus, my mind and heart are drawn to our children and our great responsibility as a church full of parents, mentors and shepherds, to “train them up in the way they should go”.

And while I love football, I’m far more passionate about our kids meeting Jesus and growing up into Him because “lifelong habits are formed early”.  Everton puts its very best coaches with its youngest players.  How are we translating that priority to Blanchard families, parents, children?

Paul tells us in the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians that the goal of the Church is to equip followers of Christ to become mature, fully like Him.  We can’t do it all at once, but what ideas, what gifts, what skills do we share to continue to equip parents, teachers, shepherds and mentors to invest in our most precious treasure–our kids?    Are you a gifted coach who’s waiting in the wings to be asked to serve?  Do you have ideas to more effectively equip our parents and kids?  And how do those ideas help us to intersect with our neighborhoods and communities?

Your ideas are welcome, coaches (that would be any and all of us…).  Post them here if you’d like and let’s see what happens…