Sports Evangelism: Promoting the Gospel Through Sports

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Sports evangelism is just another means of reaching young people; this time through sports!

Sports Evangelism

Sports Evangelism In Action

When sports is used as the main vehicle to promote the gospel this is referred to as Sports Evangelism. Sports evangelism allows believers to adapt to the people they are trying to reach with the gospel. Sports is not the traditional way of sharing the gospel but we each have different gifts and we are called to use them. The gospel is not being changed, just the method so that more people can be reached. “The roads of Rome carried the gospel in the first century, but sports is the means of carrying it today” (Reid, 1998, p. 279).

Sports is a major part of any culture and it therefore touches a huge part of the population annually. Sports Evangelism operates under two premises:sports provide a platform to share the gospel that might not have been available otherwise and Romans 12:6-8. This method of spreading the gospel has become so popular that several universities have began to offer degree courses in this area:

  1. Campbellsville University
  2. Azusa Pacific University
  3. Huntington University
  4. Malone University
  5. Dallas Baptist University
  6. Mississippi College
  7. Oklahoma Baptist University
  8. LeTourneau University
  9. Baptist Bible College and Seminary
  10. Belhaven University

 

Sports Equipment

 

Sports evangelism falls into three categories (Reid, 1998):

  1. Major event centered: includes most annual professional sports activities, major college events and events such as the Olympics.
  2. Competition centered: non professional club level league competition, some refer to this as recreational ministry
  3. Personality centered: using famous athletes to draw the audience then sharing their testimonies

There are persons who might ask why sports evangelism is even a consideration? This is necessary because:

  1. The world has become more resistant to traditional forms of ministry
  2. Sports attempts to go where traditional evangelism has not been effective in reaching the lost
  3. Many persons are familiar with sports personalities, media events and competitions so they are already following. When these persons get saved they tend to be very passionate and they already have a captive audience
  4. Sports connect with people and move them towards active discipleship

Sports evangelism is necessary because it attracts the secularized and unchurched; it reaches two missing groups in the church (men and youths); it fulfills church growth principles; and people are mostly influenced while having fun and athletic facilities attract people.

Practical ways to embrace sports evangelism:

  1. Invite people in the community to get involved in sports activities at your local church
  2. If there is a competition among churches then include them in the lineup (one condition might be that they are a part of a group in the church such as youth fellowship or men’s fellowship)
  3. Use every opportunity to teach about Christ
  4. Teach them how to be competitive in a Christlike manner (fairness in competition)
  5. Have members volunteer at local sports events and use the opportunity to spread the gospel

Persons associated with sports evangelism:

  1. Dwight Stephenson
  2. Tim Tebow
  3. Kurt Warner
  4. Joe Gibbs
  5. Mariano Rivera
  6. Derek Fisher
  7. Shaun Alexander
  8. Allyson Felix
  9. Hunter Smith
  10. Jake Peavey
  11. Curt Schilling
  12. Michael Waltrip
  13. Zach Johnson

Resources

Association of Church Sports and Recreation Ministries

Athletes in Action

F.A.I.T.H Riders Motorcycle Ministry

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Reid, A. (1998). Introduction to Evangelism. B&H Academic

Sports Outreach

© 2015 Mardene Carr

__________________________________________________________________

Mardene R. Carr is a tech-savvy Librarian with over 15 years of experience in Jamaica, USA, Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Dominica. For more on her work please visit

http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mardene_Carr

https://ucc-jm.academia.edu/MardeneCarr

https://conciergelibrarian.com/


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19 Responses

  1. Maria @ Confessions First says:

    I love this! Community Sports are a great opportunity for a church to build relationships with non-congregants in their area. I didn’t realize this was a ministry though! In Miami (FL) I helped coach kid’s basketball for the YMCA but we practiced on church grounds and a lot of volunteers were from our church to have a “little league” going on. It made such a difference to the families that participated!

  2. Hi, have you ever participated in sports evangelism? Would love to see a post on it if you have, as a personal testimony. I have been on mission trips to Brazil where they love soccer, like most countries. Playing soccer and volleyball with the people we visited spoke a language we couldn’t communicate in with words. Thanks!

    • Kathy…Actually I have. When I was the Youth Director at the Mountain View New Testament Church of God in Kingston Jamaica I did. Just did not know they had an official name for it…I wanted to get the young men involved so I invited them to Youth Fellowship to become members. Even though they were not saved I asked them to be members and that would allow them to play soccer for the Youth team. Out of that several of them got saved and 2 went on to be pastors and doing very well.

  3. barnabaslane says:

    This is great! I never knew that much about sports evangelism, thanks for sharing!

  4. Andrea says:

    now if we could only get sports media to appreciate the value of our faith-based athletes!

  5. Jed Jurchenko says:

    Neat post. I knew sports evangelism was growing, but I had no idea that schools were offering degrees in this area. I love the idea. Sports are incredibly relational. The idea of developing a strong bond with others, sharing life, and sharing the gospel, is a form of evangelism that I find incredibly appealing. It’s awesome to hear that this movement is growing 🙂

    • Jed I totally agree with it. Reaching the people where they are through something they love. I remember as a Youth Leader having the young men in the community be a part of the Youth Fellowship soccer team and out of that we got 2 pastors who are doing well.

  6. Ifeoma Samuel says:

    Hey friend, this is awesome. My local church years ago used to do this but I think they have stopped now!
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Hugs and blessings to you

  7. Sports are a great way to spread the love and message of Christ.

  8. Anna Clarke says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Connecting people through what they are already passionate about is amazing and so needed. I know that many have been touched via this ministry!

  9. Mommy Maleta says:

    My husband and I are full time missionaries with Ambassadors Football…that’s the soccer kind of football. We have seen doors open all over the world through sports ministry…my daughter and I just shared the gospel with children in Nicaragua last week using a soccer ball as an object lesson…I’m all for it!

  10. Laura P. says:

    My husband and I are full time missionaries with Ambassadors Football…that’s the soccer kind of football. : ) We have had so many amazing doors open around the world through sports ministry…I am all for it!!

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