Whether we’re pushing our bodies to the limit or enjoying a social game with our friends, there’s something inspiring about sport.
It may simply be the opportunity to switch off from the pressures of day to day life or the pleasure of competing and striving to win. Whatever it is, so many of us can’t get enough of it. Training and playing forms a massive part of our week and, on the sports field, we come alive in a way we don’t find elsewhere.
Sport’s power to captivate us shows no sign of wearing off. In fact, more and more of us are taking part each week, according to the latest research. Sport really is a big deal throughout the UK.
More than 10 million people play competitive sport once a week – and the figure is far higher when we include those who simply enjoy a kick around or going for a run. Whether or not you had considered it before, that really is a huge mission field which God has given us to reach with the gospel. It might just be the biggest in our country.
However, we can’t avoid the fact that far more people up and down the UK will be found on a football pitch than in church on a Sunday morning – and that’s just one sport. God has given us a huge mission field, but how will we reach them?
Wherever your church is based, there will be sportspeople and sports clubs on your patch. And there will probably be sportspeople in your church family. Sport is a massive part of our culture and it’s something the church should embrace. It is part of God’s good creation and we can worship Him in the way we train and compete. Look at what Romans 12: 1 says:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.
Worship is physical as well as spiritual. We are called to offer our bodies to God. What better way to do that than by giving our all for Him on the sports field, in the swimming pool or on the running track? You may be familiar with sprinter Eric Liddell’s famous words in film Chariots of Fire. He says:
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
Liddell was a hugely talented Olympic champion, but worshipping God like this is not just the preserve of elite sportspeople.
Jesus calls his followers to make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28. And it’s this ‘Great Commission’ that provides the name of this website. These days sportspeople form a huge ‘nation’ in the UK and across the world.
If we’re serious about evangelism, Christians need to be involved in the world of sport. Otherwise we’re discounting vast amounts of people in our desire to share the gospel. We should reach out to sportspeople as we should to those in every walk of life.
That doesn’t mean all of us should play sport. I realise that for many, that prospect is about as appealing as watching paint dry. God has given His people many gifts and we’re called to worship Him through them, so sport is definitely to be enjoyed, just as is music, literature, art and the rest.
If we are to obey Jesus’ Great Commission, what we cannot do is ignore the world of sport in our thinking. It’s a great place to share the good news. Whether or not you are a sportsperson, you can pray for and encourage those who are in your church family – just like they should support you in the world God has placed you.
With so much more sport taking part on Sundays, it also means the church needs to be creative, both to support Christians in their clubs and teams and on how we reach out with the good news. We need to think it through. We can’t just sit on the sidelines.
Put this all together and that’s where Christians in Sport comes in. Our vision is to reach the world of sport for Christ. We long to equip Christian sportspeople and help them share the gospel with their teammates. We seek to partner with and encourage churches as they do this too.
If you already play sport, isn’t it great that the club or team God has placed you in is your mission field! Go for it – it’s a great place to worship and serve our Heavenly Father. If you’re not yet involved in reaching your world of sport for Christ, we’d love to help and encourage you as well.
If you’re interested in reaching the sportspeople in your community, have a look at The Sports Mission Pack which is full of resources to reach sportspeople in your local area.