A Sporting Chance Of Winning Souls

“What is your position on recincarnation?” This was definitely not a question I was expecting.

I had just completed the warm-up phase with my group of energetic 17 to 21-year-old students when this question was posed to me by one of them who was known to be a pious Buddhist. I was breathing hard and was definitely not expecting a theological discussion! I answered, What do you understand about reincarnation? This is an example of one of the many opportunities I have had to share life, and Christ, while engaging in sports.

What is so special about Sports Ministry? I am sure many people would argue that meeting people over a good meal together is just as effective in building relationships and some would argue, developing the body too! While food is definitely more universal and perhaps yields more opportunities to connect socially, sports is a unique medium that has the potential to engage people in more complex ways.

Only through sports are you able to experience intense emotions, while at the same time, challenge your values. Sports pushes us to our physical limits and tests who we really are. For example, what is your response when you are fouled? Or when you are presented with a chance to cheat, or when you face adversity?The question is, how can you or your Youth Ministry harness sports as a means of doing ministry?

There are many answers to this question, each with boundless possibilities.As a spectator at a game with some of your pre-believer friends, you could steer the conversation towards knowing the God who created this world and also the game. Or, as a more experienced adult coaching and guiding a young athlete on the joys of sports, you could, along the way, mentor him or her both on and off the pitch with your own life as an example.

Sports Ministry has been particularly effective at Aldersgate Methodist Church, where there is a thriving soccer ministry. Christians and non-Christians alike are invited to play and train together for the local church league. Through the soccer ministry, they have been able to meet people from different walks of life with a shared passion for soccer, and have been able to build meaningful relationships. These relationships have translated to friendships that extend beyond the pitch.

Many golden opportunities to dialogue with non-Christians are provided through the Sports Ministry. When engaging in sports, relationships are established and trust is built. When difficult questions are posed, they know that they can trust you to provide an honest answer.

While opportunities to share Christ abound in all areas of life, I believe that sports does provide a unique platform. The sporting community allows one to meet people from all walks of life in a neutral environment, without the hang-ups of being religious.

The key to proclaiming Christ, or discipling through any activity, is to be intentional. So the question is, how can you or your church be intentional today?

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor 9:22, 23).

Poon Pek Ya is a youth worker with TRUTHMIN.