While the history of FCA Endurance is much bigger than Chris Anderson, its formation is so closely tied to Chris’s endurance ministry journey that giving its history requires telling some of his story.
Chris was first introduced to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) as a high school student. There was a student chapter (“Huddle”) on his campus, and he attended from time to time during his junior and senior years. His involvement with FCA grew significantly in college though. Shortly after arriving at South Dakota State University, he began searching for a way to meet some new “nice” friends and decided to check out the student Huddle. The Lord would use this experience and these student athletes to change his life forever.
As he met some of the student athletes in this Huddle, it didn’t take long to realize that they were very different than most of the people he had known before. As student athlete peers, they were the first people Chris had ever spent significant time with who both claimed to be Christians and also lived like they loved God! They had a obviously recognizable love for the Lord, demonstrated through sincere worship and joyful obedience to the Lord's teachings. They also had a genuine, sacrificial love for each other, and Chris. It was through the influence of this group and a FCA event his freshman year that Chris fully surrendered his life to God, answering Jesus’ call to, “Follow me" (Luke 9:59). Chris has been following Jesus since this time, and after having been so impacted through the ministry of FCA, has a personal long-standing love for this ministry. Also, as a student and adult FCA volunteer, Chris has seen his experience lived out many times in other’s lives, only deepening his appreciation for what the Lord is doing through FCA
Fast forward a number of years to 2004. As a young professional, Chris decided to pursue the sport of triathlon as a way to fulfill his ongoing competitive drive and as a way to compete for Christ as an adult. He was able to attend and serve as a volunteer at the 2000 Ironman World Championships and was subsequently inspired to one day race an Ironman himself. As he began to get more serious about the sport though, the Lord used a couple of promptings to create the vision for FCA Endurance.
The first prompting came through Chris’s desire to experience the sport as a member of a worthwhile team. He was used to and loved the fellowship that he had experienced with other high school and college teammates. As a college student, he was also very involved with the campus Huddle, allowing for further Christ-centered fellowship. As he began to train and compete more often as an adult, Chris longed for the fellowship that comes from being part of a team.
The second prompting came as Chris became more immersed in the triathlon culture. He began to recognize the significant costs involved with triathlon, and had questions about whether he was being a wise steward of what the Lord had given him. There were significant financial costs through gear, events, and travel. He spent more on a bike than he would have previously ever thought was reasonable! There were also other costs though, including time to train, race, and research all things triathlon. The sport also preoccupied him mentally and emotionally. In the end, a question had to be asked… was all of this worth it for some temporary reward like a t-shirt, medal, or pat on the back? Was this all about Chris, or could this passion be used to glorify the Lord and accomplish the great commission? More seriously, was Chris slowly allowing triathlon to become an idol? An objective look at the way he was spending personal resources could easily create some doubts. Were the expenses simply selfish indulgent wastes, or could they legitimately be an investment into something that actually mattered?
As Chris processed both of these promptings and the many questions, a few thoughts emerged. As a Christian triathlete, he believed that he certainly wasn’t the only one wresting with such issues. There had to be other like-minded, like-passioned followers of Jesus in the sport who desired fellowship and longed for their involvement in triathlon to be an investment into something eternal. Assuming this was true, it simply made sense to form a ministry team who could accomplish the Great Commission together through participation in triathlon. This vision slowly grew to include other endurance athletes, knowing that triathletes are also often runners and cyclists. Besides, the larger the team, the better the fellowship and the more effective the ministry! As the vision became clearer, there was really only one place to go to organize it… back home to FCA.
After a year of praying, processing, and discussing with close friends, Chris typed up the vision plan and submitted it to his local FCA staff member, Bob Parsons. Bob forwarded on the idea to Dan Britton at the FCA Home Office in Kansas City, and in May of 2005, Team FCA Endurance was birthed as a grass-roots Sports-Specific Ministry. Chris had also shared the vision with friends John Owen and Rob Jacobsen, and immediately the Lord brought forward Stan Smith, Lloyd Abramson, and elite runner Carl Rundell. Stan had a similar vision a year earlier, starting a DC-area FCA triathlon ministry (Tri4Christ), and after connecting with Chris, decided to roll that ministry into Team FCA Endurance. These five men began the ministry as a volunteer board, eventually moving Chris to part-time FCA staff in December of 2005, making FCA Endurance the 5th national Sport-Specific Ministry of FCA.
Since the beginning, the Lord has shown great favor to FCA Endurance, growing it in size and influence. He also continues to draw many faithful volunteers and donors, enabling us to accomplish our mission together. We are truly grateful for their commitments and sacrifices! We pray that such growth continues, and that together we can see the endurance world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches!
Photo Right: 1st race with FCA Endurance colors in the field: Manitou Triathlon, June 2005.
FCA Endurance Timeline:
• 1954 Fellowship of Christian Athletes launches
• May 2005 FCA Endurance launches
• December 2005 FCA Endurance hires 1st staff member (Chris Anderson)
• July 2005 1st partnership with Iron Prayer
• January 2006 Partner in 1st adult triathlon/endurance camp (ICTN Camp)
• July 2007 FCA Endurance hires 1st full-time staff member (Chris Anderson)
• December 2008 Hit 1,000 members
• February 2009 Endurance Ministry Institute (EMI) launched
• December 2009 Hire second part-time staff member (Joe Dannelly)
• July 2010 Hit 2,000 members, 1st international Iron Prayer
• September 2010 Launch “The Body”
• January 2011 1st international mission trip (Kenya)
• 2011 Hit 50 Huddles (local adult chapters)
• April 2011 Launch WhyDoYouRace.com
• December 2011 Hit 3,000 members
• February 2012 Hire second full-time staff member (Steve White)
• April 2013 Hit 4,000 members
Posted on Sat, June 1, 2013
by Chris Anderson filed under