This post is for church leaders. But if you’re not on payroll at a church, don’t stop reading yet.
When I say “church leader,” I mean any Christian who is invested in the mission of the Church and desperate to see change in their community.
We all have the potential to be leaders in our churches and communities, but it’s time for us to act.
We are constantly hearing that the church is on the decline. All too often, we see people leave church after a bad experience.
While the message of the gospel is never changing, we as the Church must be willing to find new ways to reach people for Jesus. Here at Upward Sports, we are convinced that sports can be a strategy to reach your community, a new entryway for people to discover (or rediscover) church.
There is no doubt that sports are popular in the United States. Sixty-four percent of Americans think pro athletes have more influence in American society today than do professional faith leaders (Barna, 2013). While it is hard to hear, I believe that sports are culturally more relevant in your community than church. That’s sad, but that is the world we live in.
If we allow sports to intersect with faith, we can connect families and young athletes with the church community. Using sports to communicate greater truths is not a new idea. “There's a reason the apostle Paul used sport references in his epistles,” says Clint Jenkin, vice president of research at Barna Group. “Every culture that has progressed beyond subsistence has developed recreational competitions and become passionate about them.”
How do we respond? As individuals, we should evoke Colossians 3:17—“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NIV)—and remember that sports gives us opportunities to build relationships with people who may need Jesus.
As representatives of the Christian Church, we should continue to develop strategic ways to reach our communities for Christ. Consider utilizing an Upward Sports ministry in your church, and learn more about the Upward Sports strategy.
I am honored to present and further discuss this topic of a sports strategy for churches at the Student Leadership University’s Youth Pastors Summit in Orlando on April 13-14 and Dallas on April 20-21, as well as the Youth Ministry Summit in Toronto on May 8-9. The Orlando and Dallas events are free admission. We’d love for you to join us.