The sports ministry can be an essential part of church community engagement. Involving parishioners in active pastimes can unite people, create interesting forms of leisure for them, and expand the circle of communication. Today, due to access to social media and other online platforms, the organization of such programs and activities is convenient and free. The transfer of Christian values through mutual assistance and unity is a justified goal to promote projects in the sports ministry.
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Programs and Activities
As relevant programs and activities for the sports ministry, one should review the available projects of different churches. For instance, one of the possible options is the organization of competitive sports events for families. Such leisure helps “strengthen bodies, sharpen minds and introduce people to clean, ‘love inspired,’ competitive sports, fitness programs, family outings and personal activities” (“8 ways to start a sports ministry,” n.d., para. 5). Another type of sports ministry is an emphasis not only on athletic competitions but also on recreation aimed at developing spiritually. Courses in yoga, acting, and other creative activities allow keeping the body in good shape and, at the same time, bring parishioners closer together (“8 ways to start a sports ministry,” n.d.). Such practices are convenient for people of different professions and ages.
As a sports ministry program promoted in different communities, one can also assess the course of creating leaders. Merrill (2019) reviews such courses and notes that helping people develop leadership and self-confidence qualities is a valuable perspective to create a healthy society with trustworthy and educated people. Helping others to become leaders is a set of activities that includes different types of recreation, but sports are usually the most convenient for the purposes in question. As a result, strategically, the sports ministry can include different types of interactions among people, including both active competitions and calmer practices for spiritual growth.
As already mentioned, the programs and activities reviewed may be suitable for people of different ages. However, since the goals of the sports ministry include the spiritual training of people through solidarity and mutual assistance, there is much focus on targeted work with children. Mirzaei Kalar et al. (2019) examine the close relationship between church initiatives and representatives of the ministry of education and note that school administrators are willing to accept such projects. Children are encouraged to participate in sports events with their parents and teachers, and these activities are valuable initiatives to bring children closer to adults and give students confidence in their abilities. With regard to spiritual practices, children can also be participants in such programs, but the key target audience is adults who want to know harmony and peace, tired of the routine and hardships of life. In other words, the sports ministry activities reach the general public and can help different people restore their inner balance.
The courses aimed at creating leaders also allow for the attraction of people of different ages and professions. Honing basketball or soccer skills outside the classroom does not require significant investment on the part of school administrators, but such activities stimulate the development of important personal qualities and allow students to apply teamwork skills (“8 ways to start a sports ministry,” n.d.). Merrill (2019) also gives an example of basketball, but in his project, adults are involved. The key goal of interaction among people with well-established outlooks on life is an opportunity to change the environment and receive support that they may lack in real life. Therefore, most of the programs and projects in the sports ministry allow the participation of people of different ages, although the goals of their membership may differ.
Focus on Intentional Christian Ministry
The religious background of the aforementioned activities is manifested through the values that are embedded in collective athletic and spiritual programs. According to Spears and Hernandez (2018), “there is a historical and Biblical basis for using sport as both a metaphor for spiritual growth and as a manifestation of the Christian ideal” (para. 7). While taking into account the purpose of such events, one can note that a person learns to interact with other people, feel a brotherly shoulder, and trust others. Resisting worldly temptations is important as one of the goals of the sports ministry. Based on the New Catholic Bible, “temptation occurs when someone is attracted and seduced by his desire” (“James 1:14,” n.d.). By interacting with one another in team competitions, people abstract from the idea of pursuing personal gain and acquire important skills of mutual assistance. Thus, intentional Christian ministry is realized through such activities and programs involving both children and adults.
The sports ministry, as an important aspect of work involving the church-community interaction, includes teaching crucial Christian values, including brotherhood, unity, and trust in one another. Sports competitions, spiritual practices, and leadership training fall within the spectrum of this field. As contributors engaged, people of all ages are involved, but much emphasis is on child membership. The focus on intentional Christian ministry is realized through communicating to people the importance of resisting temptations and helping those who need it.
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8 ways to start a sports ministry. (n.d.). Resource UMC.
James 1:14. (n.d.). Bible Gateway.
Merrill, J. (2019). Effective sports ministry leadership tips. Eternity Sports.
Mirzaei Kalar, A., Hemmatinezhad, M., & Ramazaninezhad, R. (2019). Designing a framework of stakeholders’ participation in school sport decisions. Annals of Applied Sport Science, 7(2), 13-20.
Spears, J. C., & Hernandez, E. (2018). Church & sport in Alabama. Sport Journal.