The Church has utilized many ministry strategies to reach people for Christ throughout history: hospitals, schools, dramatic arts, music, dance etc., but sports ministries have a few distinct advantages over other worthy endeavors.
Sports activities and sports facilities attract people and translate to any community. There’s just something about seeing men running up and down a basketball court playing pick-up games, young adults running and jumping while playing ultimate Frisbee, women "digging" and "spiking" volleyballs, or families cheering for their kids as they kick up dust on a baseball field. Recreation and sports attract a wide range of people, and because of this, they have the unique ability to draw in people who have no church connection.
2. Long Term Approach
Recreation ministries provide a natural “back door” activity that give church members an opportunity to invite friends, families, and co-workers. Whereas, many people are not receptive to invitations to a church service, they are very open to playing a basketball pick-up game or signing their child up for a baseball league. Furthermore, it provides a continual opportunity for relationships to develop and deepen because practices and games occur at least once a week for months at a time. Most church outreaches last a couple of hours, one day or perhaps, or on the rare occasion, one week. Sports activities keep people involved for months to even years which greatly encourages successful long term relationship building and outreach.
3. Built-In Accelerators
The accelerator of relationships is crucial to the overall goal of reaching and discipling those who don’t yet have a relationship with God. It’s very hard to share the gospel with someone you have no relationship with. Sports create a unique opportunity to build trust and accelerate the relational process through teamwork. Sports ministries also have the ability to accelerate the process of communicating faith. Sporting analogies, metaphors and experiences provide unique, insightful and relevant ways to communicate a personal and growing relationship with Christ.
Recreation and sports are a unique tool to bridge the Church to communities for the purpose of leading people into a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Have sports and recreation been a positive influence in your life? Share in the comments!