Ministry revolves around people; I dare say that there is no ministry if there are no people. The call to make Disciples of Christ is ever great. But then what is Evangelism? Evangelism is defined as the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. It’s zealous advocacy of the gospel of Christ either to a group or to a one-to-one setup. Many people have undertaken different means to do evangelism with an aim of attracting people to hear the good news. One of the recent ways is the use of Sports.
We live in a country where Sports and Games are highly appreciated. Every weekend, I bet you might never miss a motorcycle rally, a football match between local teams, a skating session, or even Board games like Chess. Taking advantage of this zealous love for sports and coupling it with sharing the gospel can be quite a huge catch. People get to do what they love (Sports) and they also get an opportunity to hear the gospel which they often think they don’t need. While I must start by saying that like any other venture, Sports evangelism is not for the faint hearted and a strong balance is needed for it to thrive.
There is a temptation of either overlooking the Evangelism part which makes it not different from any secular club or overlooking the sports bit which nearly turns the group into a mini church. Many have taken to doing sports evangelism which either has turned into something great or something that needs reworking but either way I hope my thoughts and experience in sports evangelism will be beneficial to keep you going. We are going to focus on things to consider when thinking of sports evangelism and some challenges.
As the name suggests, this method of Preaching the Gospel has two parts The Evangelism Part and the Sport Part. The Baseline is you need to have first met Christ for you to share about him as Richard Baxter says in his Book “The Ministry we need” that one needs to examine himself/herself to make sure they are first converted so that they will not be preaching about the Christ they know nothing about. Once this is clear, then the following things will come in handy in the starting up of a sports evangelism.
- Identify a sport you are good in or Interested in.-You do not need to a guru in a certain sport to start one all you need is to be interest and know the right people for the job, you can act as an enable, matching someone good in that sport with the group of people you have gathered. You can be the mobilizer and the one who share the gospel after the group or team have their sporting activity.
- Know the Target group– This is very important as different age group will have different energy level and different commitment and this might hinder ownership or even discourage many from joining in. For instance, Skating can be high suitable for young people than Older folks while board games or golfing can work well with older people.
- Make your intentions clear from the very start – It’s very possible to digress from the very objectives set to guide the group. The objective is to have sports and hear the gospel being proclaimed. These two are important and either of them cannot be neglected. Many people might be attracted by the sport bit but not really interested in the gospel and this might be a big issue.
- Consider the Sports requirements before hand- Different sport will have different requirement from the gears to the required space. Some will require more time to play and this need to be considered beforehand. Time factor is important as you want to play and still share the gospel and therefore plan and agree with the team how much time to spend on each of the activities. If any gears need to be acquired either by the you or the team members, please do so early enough or do the recommendation on where the team can get them.
- Be creative and dynamic- Come up with different way to do the same thing. Remember that this people you have gathere66d need to be a team, need to interact and Bond, need to relax at times and all this trickle down to the leader. Have a one to one day where the team talk out, plan team building session because at the end of the day you want to create an environment where your team can enjoy sports and Learn God’s Word. When this achieved, members start inviting others for the warmth and the experience they are having.
- Think of Administration-Sometimes sports evangelism fails because of poor management, things should be made clear from the beginning and roles defined well. If there is got to be met, decide who will do that and by when. If there is gears to buy or hire, time management and what is the responsibility of each member. The frequency of meeting should also be agreed. I suggest once or Twice a month but again choose what is manageable and what is comfortable for the majority of the members. Leave no room for compromise but again be gentle with the team.
- Lastly, equip to Equip-Preach and train the team members as though you will be not be with them in the next month and things need to keep running. Train with the Bigger picture in mind so that these very people can go out and do the same or even more in the future. Delegate some responsibilities, let them make mistakes and help correct with Love. Remember people can learn through observation, Involvement or instruction.
Having these things at the back of your mind, the next thing should be to prepare an Age-Appropriate gospel talk and questions that will help the team hear the gospel better. Here you can use a combination of small group Bible study, topical sermons, and exposition. Encourage an environment where people can have gospel talks and challenge each other. This is often dictated by the kind of audience you have but nevertheless, the Gospel must be preached to all and preached faithfully.
It’s also good to highlight that you might need extra pair of hands to manage sports evangelism, you don’t want to be the man running the show all day, the team might get bored or overly used to you. Invite other believers and give them a chance to preach and network, if you are playing football invite a coach for insights and to encourage your team.
Some of the games one can think of are Chess team, football team, skipping rope team, skating club, hiking team, knitting club, Cars Enthusiast teams, Motorbike team, cycling team, Athletics.
By way of bringing this to a close, Sports evangelism is doable and actually successful when done well and for a longer period. Go out and start a group, gather 4 or 5 kids and teach them how to play chess, and take that opportunity to proclaim Christ to them. It’s Doable and it can be done.
This is a reflection by Ben Kinuthia, a skating enthusiast, and very passionate about youth ministry.