Ryan Shaughnessy - Christ Community Church, Omaha, NE
Customization with the Community in Mind: The Ministry of a First Year League Director
As it turns out, many parents in the Omaha area felt the same way as Ryan did. The community needed and wanted a soccer sports league that not only coached kids on the fundamentals of this great sport but also coached them for moral and spiritual excellence as well. Ryan knew that meant building a sports league that was rooted in the truths of Scripture. Already familiar with Upward Sports through his experience as a Flag Football coach in a neighboring league, Ryan began to consider how an Upward Soccer league might be the right fit for his community. His curiosity led him to connect over breakfast with a staff member from Christ Community Church in Omaha, NE and the idea started to take shape. Ryan remembers leaving the breakfast meeting saying, “God, I’m trusting you! This is all about what you want for our community. I am here to serve!”
“This was a great opportunity for all churches in the Omaha area to break down barriers in the community through an effort like a sports league,” said Ryan. “This was not about one church’s ministry competing with another but ultimately about giving kids and their families an opportunity to fall in love with a sport called soccer and grow in a relationship with a loving God named Jesus.”
As online registration went live for the first Upward Sports soccer league at Christ Community Church, Ryan and his team waited with anticipation. “I was praying for at least 100 kids in the beginning, with a stretch goal of 150! When we got to evaluation night, we were at 275 kids. God clearly showed up and showed out in a huge way,” stated Ryan. As practice nights took place, game days came and went, families continued to be apart and excitement in the community was all around. Ryan said, “This was a proof-of-concept moment for me where I realized that there was a real hunger in our community for a soccer league that provided families the opportunity to learn the game of soccer without having to overcommit, have coaches that care about their children, and more importantly hear and witness the Word of God every Saturday on the soccer pitch.”
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