Let me confess something at the start of this piece; I’m not really a sporty person.
Those who know me will tell you it’s true. When doing PE at school, I was always the last person to be picked. No-one wanted me on their team. I’m sure that’s not true, but that’s how it felt. Apart from a bit of watching Middlesbrough football club at Ayresome Park with my late father, I don’t watch much sport. The only exception, however, is that I’m married to an avid watcher of Wales in the Rugby, so have picked up a little.
The community of sport has approximately 25 to 30 million members in the UK alone.
With this in mind, you might be wondering why I work for Sports Chaplaincy UK? Well, it’s not my love of sport that drives me to this role, but rather a sense that God is calling me to acts of generous service.
The community of sport has approximately 25 to 30 million members in the UK alone. These are large numbers. According to statistics from Sports England, this includes more than 151,000 sports clubs and 6,700 gyms across the UK with the number growing all the time. Becoming aware of the size of the community is the first step in recognising the opportunity for the gospel, and always looking to intentionally engage further. Even the smallest act is important.
That’s why we came up with the idea of getting a date in the calendar that puts sport on the prayer map of the church. It started primarily as a Sports Chaplaincy UK initiative to support the 600 chaplains within our network… But we’ve been so encouraged to see the whole church rise to the challenge.
We can all ask God to open our eyes to the sports clubs, societies and gyms around us.
Christians and churches all over the nation began to ask how their own worshipping community could get involved in taking up the mantle. Media outlets got in touch with us to ask how they could share what Christians have and continue to do to serve the community of sport. It was truly amazing to see God at work. It stands in line with the vision of Sports Chaplaincy UK to see Christians responding with acts of compassion in every community of sport, not just the elite but the amateur ones too. The response has been so overwhelming that Sports Chaplaincy UK have committed to making this a yearly event to enable churches to join us on the journey.
But you don’t have to wait until then…
There is a call for all of us – whether we love sport or not – to pray for this community. We can all ask God to open our eyes to the sports clubs, societies and gyms around us. Prayer could be the start for you or your church to reach out in new ways. The network of chaplains, which birthed the idea of National Sports Sunday, is growing and certainly needs more. However, more importantly we need Christians to engage intentionally and actively in whatever way God asks them to.
To close, I want to share with you the special prayer from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, for National Sport Sunday this year. Might you consider praying too?
We thank You for the gifts You constantly give us and first and foremost, the gift of Your Spirit within us that strives and yearns for fellowship.
We give thanks for all those who provide opportunities for our fellowship through the various sporting activities that are available, and that become, for so many, a source of support in their daily journey, knowing that they do not journey alone but amongst friends and companions.
We give thanks, at a time of great uncertainty through our Nations, that we are still able to gather across all lines and experience the fellowship that is provided through these various experiences and events.
We ask your blessings upon those who partake, that You may grant them the spirit of graciousness and sportsmanship, and that they may be reminded of the true and ultimate goal, of not only winning the game but of being in fellowship and journeying to Your Kingdom, and that in doing so they become a light and an example to all those witnessing their good works.
To find out more about National Sports Sunday, please visit the National Sport Sunday website.
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