Great article on Raceway Ministries

Checkered Flag Waving
“Effective Raceway Ministries Outreach”

by Dr. Roger Marsh
Executive Director, NFRM 


So, so many factors contribute to effectively reaching people with the good news of hope in Christ in the motor sports world.  Prayer, empowerment by the Holy Spirit, building relationships, being able to share one’s own testimony of salvation–all of these are crucial.  Based on my experiences and observations thus far in 2011, here are some additional tips that might encourage and help us all as we reach out to racers, fans and others with the gospel: 

    First, Learn from Them.  Obviously, effective evangelism occurs as we gain some understanding of human nature and utilize all that we know about human behavior.  And, when it comes to folks in the motor sports community, it is imperative that we learn all we can about who they are, how they think, what their current likes and dislikes might be, and to what approaches they will respond.  For years, we all have been aware, for example, that literature stays in the hands of race fans if it is “racing” oriented–outlines based on race flags; testimonies of racing personalities; graphics and pictures that feature race cars, checkered flags, etc.; and use of racing terms and concepts.  But, as we forge into the future, we need to continue to learn from racing people what is effective and what is not–styles of music; approaches to conversations; entertainment approaches and types of activities; ministry site setup; and apparel and appearance of ministry team members.  To dig a little deeper into this point, we must ask ourselves, “Are we willing to adjust and make changes from what we previously have done to what we discover about current trends, response patterns and behavior of racers and fans?  Learn from the motor sports folks and adjust your ministry approaches and methods to what you discover.  

   Second, Listen to Them.   An old saying goes something like this–folks don’t care about your message unless they sense that you sincerely care for them.  And, one of the best ways you can indicate that you sincerely care for them is to listen to them.  And, that takes time, which is something that many of us are not willing to spend with people these days.  We all know how race day or race week can go–there is much to do, deadlines to meet, places to be, schedules to follow, appointments to keep, etc.  Rush, rush, rush.  But, if we really want to gain a hearing in the presence of folks who need Christ, we need to take the time to listen to them.  Hear their hearts; listen to their stories; comprehend their questions; tolerate their criticisms and disappointments with Christians and churches; show them that you are concerned about what is happening in their lives.  Listen to them, and they might be more willing to listen to you.

   Third, Love Them.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this–while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  That means that Christ did not wait for us to get our act together before He was willing to express His unconditional love for us by dying for us on the cross.  Nor should we expect for folks to be “loveable” before we express Christlike love for them.  We all know that people can be very un-loveable.  They can be downright obnoxious, and even repulsive.  But, God loves them; Christ died for them; and we must love them, too.  As we encounter motor sports folks at the racing venues of the world, we see some of them at their best and some at their worst.  Usually they are very “real,” and much of the time they flaunt the worst aspects of their character.  You take the time to listen to them per point two above, and suddenly you find yourself staring at them with your mouth wide open trying to not look shocked by what they are telling you.  What do you do?   You must love them!

   Finally, Lead Them.  Lead them to Christ.  I have noticed in Raceway Ministries work that it is easy to fall short of leading people to Christ and still feel good about ministry effort.  For example, we often are kind to folks at the speedway–giving them a ride on a golf cart; sharing a cup of coffee, a snack or even a meal with them; jumping a dead car battery; pulling someone’s stuck vehicle out of the mud; and other “good deeds” and acts of kindness–to the point that we feel that we have ministered adequately to them even if we never share Christ with them in any form or fashion. It’s even easy to move through an entire race event or race weekend staying busy with “good deeds” and acts of kindness without so much as handing to someone a printed piece that bears the gospel or mentioning God or Christ in any conversation or doing anything to share Christ with people. To do so, however, betrays the very reason we are there. Our calling and responsibility is to lead them to Christ. It might happen through “seed-sowing,” or “watering,” or “reaping a harvest.” It might be through handing out literature, through a conversation, or through a song or message in a concert or worship service. But, we must utilize all that we do in learning from them, listening to them and loving them with purpose–to lead them to Christ.

Effective Raceway Ministries Outreach” is, indeed, a multi-faceted task. Let’s lean totally upon the strength and power of the Lord and do all we can to be faithful stewards of this unique opportunity that is ours to share Christ with racers, race fans and others at the nation’s speedways!

 In the Race by His Grace,
Roger Marsh