kip gingrich - Northside Church, New York
Beyond the Building: Reaching the Community Through Intentional Relationships
Driven to coach in an Upward sports league by his love for his kids and the game of basketball, Kip suddenly found himself surrounded by families, coaches, and kids who had a different outlook: a passion for following Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him. One year after he served as a basketball coach in his local Upward league, Kip surrendered his life to Jesus, and everything changed.
That’s why Kip remains committed to bringing sports ministry into his work as a student minister today. As a New Yorker, Kip knows what it means to love sports; passion for sports practically fills the air in the Empire State. For someone like Kip, sports ministry serves as a great way to connect people of all backgrounds and unite disparate communities. Sports can introduce people to the church and bring Christ to people who have not heard of him before.
“What I’ve seen growing up is that a lot of people want to be fans of something. Almost all of us want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” said Kip. “But tragically, many people don’t know that only Jesus can truly satisfy our desire for belonging. By taking people’s passion for sports and connecting it to the Gospel, we can use sports to lead people to the life changing experience that Christ wants to give all of us. That is where discipleship begins.”
Kip knows that his coaches are the crucial element in his sports ministry, since it is the coaches who are on the front lines ministering directly to families. Kip has structured his Upward Sports league to reach beyond only discipling the kids on each team. For Kip, an intentional sports ministry also disciples, loves and embraces all the kids’ families as well. Kip makes sure there is always someone present at practices and games that pour into the lives of his families while helping them pursue Christ. The result of this intentional reach is a sports league unlike any other around.
“No matter what, our mission always stayed the same: preach the Gospel of Christ and expand the kingdom of Heaven,'' said Kip. “This is not a church-centric league and we do not want to just serve the families already in the church. We want to welcome all people and reach everyone in our community who might not be a part of a church or know about the love of God.”
Looking forward to restarting after a season off, Kip and his team know things will look different. “We will be wise in our restart. We know things may be smaller this year, but outreach will take place, and we know families will need a place to feel loved, after such a difficult year.” said Kip. By offering a summer basketball camp in August, Kip and his coaches will step back in slowly. When the winter season rolls around, Kip and his team will have plans in place for their winter basketball league and will be ready for ministry. “Through our Upward Sports league, we will not be known as the church centered league. We will always strive to be a gateway ministry for outside families. This is our calling,” stated Kip.
Kip often reflects on his own life and how meeting Jesus through an Upward Sports league has changed his heart permanently. As a Christ follower, Kip believes in doing whatever it takes to reach that one extra person. This fervent faith and Kip’s passion for sports ministry has spread throughout his staff at Northside Church and continues to allow his Upward Sports league to shine as a light in the life of the local community.
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