Using Innovation and Creativity:
Continuing Sports Ministry During COVID-19
As countless schools and sports leagues cancel this fall in anticipation of COVID-19, the physical and emotional support that sports ministries provide to our youth is needed now more than ever. Many of our church partners have found that using innovation and creativity to make sports safe for this fall helps ease the fears of families and allows a safe environment to continue sports ministry.
2 Timothy 1:7, the key Bible verse for an Upward Sports’ basketball camp in Georgia this summer, describes how God “does not give us a spirit of fear and timidity” but “of power, love and self-discipline.” The 2 Timothy 1:7 godly spirit was apparent at Alpharetta First Baptist Church as they thoughtfully decided to move forward with sports ministry this summer.
Alan Royalty, the Director of Upward Sports at Alpharetta FBC, has been involved with Upward since 1998 as a coach, director, and parent. Like many sports directors across the nation, Alan was faced with a difficult decision: to cancel their long-awaited summer basketball camp or to proceed. Alan said he felt “encouraged and prepared” as he utilized resources provided by Upward Sports, such as the Uplift Webinar Series that highlighted best practices when continuing sports ministry during COVID-19, and guidance from the Upward staff. After consulting with Pastor Jim Mason, the Mobilization Pastor at Alpharetta FBC, Alan decided to carry out the summer basketball camp, incorporating various COVID-19 protocols along the way. Such measures included converting a five-week program into two weeks, cancelling scrimmaging and providing each student with their own basketball. These outside-of-the-box ideas came in handy to ensure a safe and fun environment for camp.
When facing the obstacles that the pandemic presented, support from the church and the anticipated ministry impact helped Alan to push forward. Alan was joined by over 100 prayer partners within the church as he prayed and planned for the upcoming sports ministry. Alan further felt led to follow through with the program as he “wanted to stay faithful as God has been to [him]”.
Despite all the changes, the one thing that stayed constant was the Gospel presentation. Through the basketball camp, 40 students were able to hear the Gospel, with seven students asking Jesus into their lives on the day of the presentation. Since youth and children ministries are still held online at Alpharetta FBC, Alan made it a priority to continue outreach to students even after the camp, connecting students who made the decision to take their first steps of faith with the appropriate ministries and pastors. Additionally, Alan has reached out to families individually for the last two weeks, mentioning that their child had made the decision to accept Christ during the camp. One family in particular was surprised that their son had made such a decision, as the son would be the first in the family to accept faith. Alan navigated honest conversations about faith with the family, “praying for the student and leaving the rest up to God”.
Through the use of creativity, Alpharetta FBC safely continued their sports ministry program amid COVID-19. Alan stated that he “believe[s] that God honored [their] decision based upon how well each week of Upward Basketball Camp went”. The basketball camp was able to fill a void in the community as parents searched for outlets to keep their children active in a safe environment. As the positive impact on students outweighs the hurdles, Alpharetta FBC plans to continue sports ministry throughout the fall and the winter.
Through diligent planning and creativity, sports ministry can be a safe opportunity for your community as we head into the fall. For more information and resources on how you can continue sports ministry during COVID-19, visit Upward.org/Uplift.