Unless you are a coach's wife, then you know it has a lot to do with it.
As a coaching family, we recently landed in our fourth community. So that means we are also now in our fourth church and our fourth journey figuring out where the best place is for our family to go for spiritual nourishment, investment, contribution, and...spiritual and emotional safety. Yep, safety. Because going to church as a coaching family can be complicated.
Just a couple of weeks ago, one of our deacons sat in the pew in front of us and asked if he could share something with my husband. Here was the exchange:
"I was thinking of you this morning and how strange it must be to have your job. When I come in here on a Sunday morning, nobody cares or knows what I did at work all week. But, they know what you did, and they talk to you about it. I just want you to know that we care about you more than wins or losses, and I can see how strange your experience must be."
I could have cried. Right there on the spot in the pew, cried and kissed that man because it's not every day that someone from outside this life articulates the weirdness and validates your value outside of it. And, that doesn't always happen in church. That's why we all choose so many different ways to get our spiritual needs met.
What Options Do Coaching Families Choose for Church?
Local: Our family has always chosen a local church within the community to attend, primarily because we want to invest spiritually in the same community where we coach. In many ways, this has been a great blessing. We have a local place where we can invite players to events, we get to know the community in more than one way, and it is a point of connection for local friendship for our kids and us.
And, it is also hard sometimes. After a win, there's a lot of support and encouragement. After a loss, there are usually some kind people and many polite, quiet people.
I am grateful that we have not had a lot of difficult experiences over the years but, we've had enough (and heard about enough) for me to completely understand why some coaching families choose to attend a church where they don't live.
Another Community: Several of my coach's wife friends do not go to church in the same community where they coach, and they do so intentionally. For various reasons, they do not want their spiritual community to overlap with their work and coaching community. They seek a church home at least a town or more away from the very beginning. In conversations with these wives, they express a desire to be fully free of conversation about sport, game results, and win-loss records. They enjoy the anonymity they can experience in another community, leading to the relief and freedom that allows them to engage more authentically.
Additionally, a space in the week where Dad's job is not a lead focus or topic of conversation also appears to be helpful for their children who can just be kids, rather than coach's kids, for at least a little while.
Virtual Church: There is so much value that comes from engaging with a body of believers in a physical place where you can connect and meet one another's needs. However, for a variety of reasons, not every coaching family has this option. For collegiate coaching families, you may not be present in one place consistently enough to have a true church "home," but you have a preferred preacher where you are "fed" virtually, so you remain intentional about connecting there with your family each week.
For others, it may simply be that the toxicity that sometimes exists around coaching has made your local options unhealthy or unsafe, so you find somewhere virtual in the meantime. And, of course, there's the 'rona still hanging around more intensely in some communities than others. I am grateful for the virtual options that exist for coaching families when a physical one does not or is too complicated.
No matter what option you choose as a coaching family, just know that you have a whole "cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) out here saying, "Yep. I get why that's not always the easiest choice or the easiest place to go on a Sunday morning." Churches are often a source of beautiful support, encouragement, and blessing. And, for many coaching families, they have also been a place that has brought about much pain.
Thank goodness for Jesus who always gets it right when people don't. We can always count on Him no matter where we meet.
At Friday Night Wives we believe in connecting families with churches which is why we've included a question asking for recommendations on our Community Resources page. If you're moving check and see if your county has a few churches listed. While you may find a different "church home" in the end, we hope this resource will at least give you a helpful place to start making your new community feel like home.