Reaching the Unchurched Through Sports Ministries: Strategies for Church Leaders

A Webinar with Drew Provence, Ryan Shaugnessy, Andy Roberson, Steve Harper

In this insightful webinar, church leaders and experienced sports ministry directors shared effective strategies for reaching the unchurched through sports programs like Upward Sports. With a staggering 30% of U.S. adults now religiously unaffiliated, there is an urgent need for churches to engage their communities meaningfully.

Creating a Welcoming Environment

One key strategy discussed was creating a welcoming environment for families participating in sports leagues. Steve Harper, Community Impact Pastor at Chapel Point, emphasized the importance of hosting well, with clear communication, signage, and greeters to make families feel comfortable from the moment they arrive.

Building Relationships Through Host Families

Andy Roberson, Executive Pastor at South Main Baptist Church, shared the value of utilizing host families to foster intentional relationships with league participants. By assigning a parent from the church to each team, connections can be built throughout the season, leading to deeper engagement and potential spiritual growth.

Communicating the Importance of Children

Ryan Shaughnessy, Upward Soccer League Director at Christ Community Church, emphasized the significance of communicating to parents that the church values their children and families. Offering family-friendly events, support groups, and service opportunities demonstrates a genuine commitment to the well-being of the community.

Inviting Families to Take Next Steps

While sports leagues provide an initial point of connection, church leaders must be intentional about inviting families to take the next step in their spiritual journey. Andy Roberson shared how his church celebrates baptisms during the final week of their league, creating a powerful opportunity for families to witness and participate in this significant milestone.

Partnering with Other Churches

Several panelists highlighted the importance of partnering with other churches in the community to maximize impact. Steve Harper discussed how inviting smaller churches to collaborate on sports leagues helps reach more families and break down territorial barriers, fostering a kingdom-focused mindset.

Planting New Churches Through Sports Ministries

In some cases, churches have even planted new congregations through their sports ministries, tailoring the worship experience to the specific community reached through leagues like soccer or basketball.

Encouragement for Church Leaders

Throughout the webinar, the panelists offered encouragement and practical advice for church leaders, both seasoned and new to sports ministries. Andy Roberson reminded attendees that their labor is not in vain, and Ryan Shaughnessy emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with a supportive team, leveraging resources from Upward Sports, and maintaining a passion for reaching the lost.

As churches seek to remain relevant and engage the unchurched in their communities, sports ministries offer a powerful avenue for building relationships, communicating value, and ultimately sharing the gospel. By implementing strategies like creating welcoming environments, fostering intentional relationships, communicating the importance of families, and partnering with other churches, leaders can effectively reach those who may never step foot in a traditional church setting.

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