Dean Troth sat down with Cam Butler, former long-term CEO of Sports Chaplaincy Australia and Chaplain to the Melbourne Football Club, to discuss his new startup ministry, Urbanrevs, which started online last year during the Pandemic.
There haven’t been many silver linings to the COVID-19 Pandemic but one has been a gospel ministry seeking to mobilise thousands of restless Christians online.
Cam Butler spent over a decade motivating and training thousands of Christian volunteers, from dozens of church traditions and denominations, to be chaplains in thousands of sporting clubs across dozens of sporting codes in Australia. While leading SCA, he recognised the main problem was not “demand” for chaplains but “supply” of chaplains.
“There is so much more demand for what we’ve got than there is supply,” Butler said.
“We never needed to work to get clubs to take chaplains, they came to us. Over 15,000 approached us, asking for club chaplains.”
It became so popular that rugby league coach for Melbourne Storm, Craig Bellamy, wrote an opinion piece for The Australian in 2015 suggesting that every club in Australia should have a chaplain.
When asked why there was so much demand for chaplains, Butler said he discovered that done well, “Aussies want to be pastored,” further adding, “We do care well because we have the Great Shepherd caring for us. We personally know what it means to be loved and shepherded by Jesus.” He said “Aussies, in turn deeply appreciate good pastoral care.”
“As Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few!” he says.
Butler has now expanded his vision beyond just sport, to mobilise even more followers of Jesus to be “a small ‘r’ rev” to their community, wherever God has placed them.
Urbanrevs.com is an online training ministry seeking to train and mobilise everyday Christians be community chaplains wherever God has placed them.
“Most Christians know well the ‘why’, i.e. the Great Commission, the ‘what’, i.e. the Gospel, and the ‘who’, i.e. Jesus, but what we discovered was most people struggled with the ‘how’ – how to be good at living out the Kingdom in their own social or work community.
“The Urbanrevs training is for any authentic follower of Jesus who wants to be equipped with ‘the how’ to be a “small ‘r’ rev”to their community, a ‘God-person’ being present and taking responsibility to shepherd their community towards Jesus.
“It started in sporting clubs but it is relevant to anyone in any community. It could be a hobby club or a hiking crew, a tennis team or an accounting group, a school or university community, a mother’s society or a book circle, a drama troupe or a coffee meetup, even your own street. Wherever God has put you!”
According to the website, the Urbanrevs community chaplaincy model is both a paradigm and a lifestyle wrapped in a simple set of training modules for everybody who eagerly desires to live out the kingdom of God powerfully and effectively in their workplace, their school, club, community, and business.
People are asking how they can be more intentional, more authentic and more effective with their faith
The training can be done by individuals, small groups or whole churches. It teaches participants the biblical basis of chaplaincy, how to take responsibility for their community, to be ‘heart-ready’ and listen for meaning, and grow in confidence to pray for and with people effectively.
“In a nutshell, the aim of the course is to provide followers of Jesus with practical how-to’s to live out God’s Kingdom intentionally in the community where they are.”
Butler believes there are potentially thousands of Christians sitting in churches of all stripes feeling restless and frustrated, knowing there’s more God wants to use them for.
“People are asking how they can be more intentional, more authentic and more effective with their faith outside the four walls of the church. However, the other big thing preventing people is that they disqualify themselves by saying things like ‘It’s not my gift’ or ‘I’m not an evangelist.’ However, it’s not about competency, it’s about a role!” he said.
Already, there have been highlights and success stories of gospel impact from the course. Butler shares a phone call he received from a Baptist Pastor who was working with a small group of men who had all become Christians in prison. Because of their past, they had been classified as offenders so were banned from accessing the internet as part of their parole conditions. However, the church was able to provide the Urbanrevs course offline in a group classroom setting.
“The pastor shared how the course was helping these 12 ordinary men, who society believed were beyond redemption, to get their lives back and get on with Jesus’ mission. They were now equipped to share their newfound faith, hope and love with people they interacted with in their community,” he shared.
When asked about ‘going global’, Butler is careful not to overpromise, however, he believes the online model means it can grow faster without the usual limitations. He believes there is a growing hunger, not just in Australia but across the world, for the type of ‘being there’ ministry Urbanrevs is promoting and the accessible practical training they are providing local churches and followers of Jesus.
For more information see Urbanrevs.com