While Christians may be attending church on a Sunday morning, by and large the rest of the population are either sleeping, shopping or playing sport.
Millions of people in England are sports fanatics, and there are lots of opportunities for churches to connect with people through sport.
The Active People survey produced by Sports England suggests that swimming, football and cycling are the top three sports activities in the UK.
The mission-shaped opportunities for churches to join together in reaching their communities through sport is enormous. Below are a number of links to organisations that can be helpful if you are discerning, with others, what opportunities might be best for your community. All these ideas give the opportunity to share the love of Christ and to bring friends and neighbours the good news of the gospel.
For those wishing to connect through football, Ambassadors are a worldwide organisation with a branch in England. Community outreach football training can be an effective way of helping build community cohesion and share the story of Jesus. Ambassadors offer a starting point for churches interested in using football to serve their community. You can attend a six-hour training course or host one at your church for you and others locally. They’d love to help support you to start a Community Football Outreach programme in your local area.
Another excellent organisation, working in London and looking to expand its network into the rest of the country, is KICK. Headed up by Joe Lowther, KICK’s aim is to ‘transform young people’s lives with God’s love through sport and support’. They mentor over 400 young people each week and work in over 60 schools. They are developing their national network and are a Body in Association of CTE.
Churches can also use sports quizzes and screenings of major sporting events as a way of connecting with people. Great examples of this were seen for the Olympics in 2012 and 2016.
Ridley College in Cambridge have pioneered a course in Sports Ministry training, developed by Andrew Parker. The Certificate in Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission (first year undergraduate level) helps students develop their ministry within the area of sports and wellbeing. It is designed in partnership with The Church of England and is an ecumenical, placement-based course.
There are many opportunities to for churches to collaborate together and place a chaplain in a local community sports team; from rugby to cricket, or football to running clubs. Many sports clubs are crying out for support for players’ mental health needs. A chaplain will receive good training, be a listening ear and a sign of God’s presence in a sporting community.
Sports Chaplaincy UK – another of CTE’s Bodies in Association – can help you explore these opportunities further. They have also initiated and championed National Sports Sunday, an opportunity to pray for the community of sport with a renewed sense of focus.
Find out more
You can find lots more ideas about ways to engage in mission around sport from the video and at the following websites: