In those years as the Australian Cricket Team chaplain he saw five generations of cricketers come through the Australian cricket team system, in an era after the World Series Cricket and before this new cricket revolution of Twenty/20.
In his era as Chaplain to the Australian XI the captains were Kim Hughes, Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. In this role he was interviewed by numerous media outlets including television, radio and newsprint.
The fifth article in this series, M V Tronson discusses the remarkable influence the cricket ministry has enjoyed.
M V Tronson says there are five specific areas of the Cricket Ministry (philosophy he developed for the Sports and Leisure Ministry) that has been beneficial to Christian ministry.
The Australian Cricket Board's support of Chaplaincy along with the initiating ACB Chairman the late Fred Bennett, gave much impetus for "Christian Ministry" within the Australian wider community. Fred Bennett personally approved as much publicity for the Cricket Chaplaincy as possible. M V Tronson was interviewed on television, radio and in news print over and over again, and that the First XI had a chaplain was significant news. Such was the impact, that it gave the Christian community a lift (particularly as this chaplain stammered, sometimes painfully, that God was in it).
A New Paradigm
The Head of Churches of Christ's Robert Smith addressing the NSW Council of Churches in 2003 gave Mark Tronson's sports ministry top billing as the one outstanding single ministry movement that gave rise to many other 'community' shaped ministries. A new paradigm of ministry was given rise. It was a singular movement of God as M V Tronson (Robert Smith pinpointed his stammer, sometimes painfully so). There was a sense in while the Lord opened the flood gates to a whole range of other community missions.
Heads of Churches leading role
The Cricket Ministry (and the wider Sports and Leisure Ministry) based itself under Heads of Churches and under the authority of the Denominations. This was a critical foundation stone of the Sports Ministry as ministry to professional sport could very easily be hived off by self engrandisement type self made preachers for their own purposes and promotional exposure, rather than the humble ministry to athletes, the coaches and their families. M V Tronson fears that any deviation from this policy will inevitably illustrate how quickly politics will harm the ministry and engage in terrible injustices.
Denominational Ministry and legal Responsibility
The Cricket Ministry (and the wider Sports and Leisure Ministry) was housed within the Denominations, and this policy proved critical. It was foundation member of the Sports and Leisure Ministry, ACT Heads of Churches, the late Reverend F P McMaster MBE who recommended that this policy be adopted for the following reasons.
(A) The Denominations became responsible for the training and equipping of the personnel for Sports Chaplaincy. Sports Chaplaincy didn't need to reinvent the wheel.
(B) There is an enormous cost to training and accrediting personnel for Christian Ministry and this policy took that entire expense from the Sports Ministry.
(C ) Lay personnel keen on Sports Chaplaincy have available to them the appropriate training and accreditation through their Denominations.
(D) The Denominations provide the legal protection for the Sports Chaplains.
M V Tronson fears that any deviation from this policy for the Sports Ministry in its new incarnation (he moved on 10 years ago to Well-Being Australia) will inevitably create enormous costs in running training courses and on the other hand, legal nightmares should anything go wrong with a chaplaincy on the ground. And it will !!
[ He was told recently that prospective sports chaplains were being charged hundreds of dollars for a training course. If anything goes amiss on the ground, it was once the Denomination's responsibility, now it seems they have taken it upon their own backs. ]
The Local Church
The Cricket Ministry (and the wider Sports and Leisure Ministry) was based in the local church, in that those who served as Sports Chaplains were based in local churches. The local church provides a community of support and prayer that is unmatched along with a local accountability. This policy gave the local church community (from the very young to the oldest person) a sense of participation with the Sports Chaplains ministry. M V Tronson fears that any deviation from this core essential ingredient of responsibility will be fraught with tensions and mistrust as Sports Chaplains attempt to run their own show and self engrandisement publicity.
These five philosophical areas gave the Cricket Ministry (and the Sports and Leisure Ministry) and the wider Australian Christian movement, a remarkable foundation in Christian theology and practise.