Taking the Gospel to Sportspeople
This summer provides a unique opportunity to engage with sportspeople of all ages, with four different world cups taking place. Jonny Reid explains how his church in Oxfordshire is getting involved.
At Town Church in Bicester, a large proportion of our church family are involved in sports clubs and teams in the town. It’s partly because we have people who love sport in our church, and partly because a few of us work for Christians in Sport. But ultimately we’re involved because, as we look to reach people in Bicester with the gospel, we see amazing opportunities to meet and interact with people who don’t know Jesus. We want to do that through the medium of sport.
It’s estimated that 10 million people play sport each week in the UK. Within a few miles of your church there will be thousands of people engaged in clubs and teams on a weekly basis.
Knowing about this really influenced us as we started Town Church in 2017. Our Sunday gathering is at 4pm for lots of reasons, but partly to account for the volume of youth sport taking place on a Sunday morning. It’s proved a great time for families, as we share food together after each service before many head off to put their children to bed!
As well as having an afternoon service, we’ve run a number of events to reach the thousands of sportspeople in Bicester.
Each year we run a sports quiz where we pack out the rugby club with about 100 people, the vast majority of whom have never come to church, to enjoy a sports quiz and give a short evangelistic talk. We’ve had teams come from most of the local clubs, even those where we don’t know any Christians, as well as local schools’ PE teachers and parents!
Last year we looked to capitalise on the excitement around the FIFA World Cup and ran what we called ‘World Cup Sunday.’ We had a 5-a-side football tournament, family games and a barbeque where we shared a short gospel talk before watching an England match on the big screen. We had loads of families and friends turn up who wouldn’t normally come to church, and were able to preach the gospel and invite them back to Town Church in the following weeks.
The beauty of both these types of events is that even if people in your church don’t like sport (and not all of our church do!) they can still engage. This could be through some great quiz rounds for sporting skeptics, or through the fun of a family day with face painting, games for the kids and a barbeque.
Four World Cups
This year we’re making the most of FIFA Women’s World Cup and running a similar event on July 7th, the day of the World Cup Final. To broaden its appeal we’re calling it a ‘Family Fun Day’ but will still host a tournament and show the final on the big screen.
You could run the same kind of event, with three other major World Cups taking place for cricket, netball and rugby union through the rest of 2019. How can you make the most of the chances these events present to reach sportspeople with the gospel?
I work for Christians in Sport, a UK based charity looking to support competitive and elite athletes as they reach the world of sport for Christ. One of the ways we do this is by creating resources to help share Jesus with sportspeople, and one such resource, the Sports Mission Pack, is stacked with great ideas, plans and materials to put on evangelistic events.
Perhaps you could host a netball tournament with a half-time look at God’s Word together, run a screening of an England match with a talk on the Christian faith, or invite your teammates to a Sports Quiz featuring a World Cup round? The possibilities to share the gospel are endless!
My prayer is that this year, many sportspeople will have the chance to hear and respond to the gospel. Please do prayerfully consider how your church could be a part of this and get planning!
Header image by Mari Carmen Del Valle Cámara on Unsplash.