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Don McClanen Represents the Crossroads of Evangelicals

Don McClanen founded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with the intention of fostering greater spiritual discipline, Holy Spirit renewal, and self-sacrificial commitment to Christ. He did not see the group primarily as a sport-focused version of Campus Crusade for Christ. While he left FCA for several reasons, one of them had to do with the shift of the FCA away from spiritual disciplines and social activism. He did eventually reconcile with the leadership while remaining part of the progressive evangelical stream.

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Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a household name in most evangelical circles, so it’s especially crucial to review the divide within this organization:

  • Either/Or vs. Both/And: McClanen self-identified with more progressive evangelical groups that focused on social activism, while other members of FCA were more interested in evangelism. This raises the important question: can evangelicals remain committed to meeting both physical and spiritual needs?
  • Different Missions with a Common Center: McClanen and FCA did eventually reconcile and he even spoke at FCA events throughout the years. When is it appropriate for evangelicals to recognize different callings and gifts for particular kinds of missions?
  • Finding a Place for Spiritual Disciplines: McClanen was concerned that FCA was so focused on evangelism that it missed out on spiritual growth and the practice of spiritual disciplines. How does this potential risk of growing wide without growing deep play out in your own ministry?

What needs does this story highlight for your ministry? Do you need to think of more ways to reach out in your own community? Does your church need a deeper practice of spiritual disciplines?

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