john gillespie & tyson willis - tulia, tx
Seeking the Welfare of the Community
Tulia Upward Sports league promotes the discovery of Jesus through sports and has become an integrated part of the local community. John and Tyson believe that God wants them to use sports to address the physical and spiritual needs of kids in their community. At the same time, the sports league stimulates local businesses and families in the town to come together with sports as the bridge. By utilizing Project Select, (Upward’s new initiative to offer church partners the ability to customize their sport offering based on their church mission and community need) Tyson and John were able to keep specific apparel local, while keeping the player cost as low as possible, attracting new kids.
“Businesses would have felt slighted if we went elsewhere for the products that we need to run our sports league”, said John. “Being able to pick and choose what we need with Project Select helps give back to the businesses in the community and vitalize the overall economic well-being of Tulia.”
Through their sports league, John and Tyson see more people coming to their church, due to wanting to be a part of a sports team. Their Upward Sports partnership has allowed John and Tyson the opportunity to break down community barriers in a way that draws people from all backgrounds into a shared space to encounter Christ. Their sports league provides a place of entertainment and growth for kids and parents, and the halftime devotions draw everyone in, including parents who might not be familiar with the Christian faith. Tyson recalls a parent recognizing him from a devotion he gave at a recent basketball game; the parent told him how their child had been applying what he was learning from basketball to his life at home. This made an impact on the parent!
“There is no such thing as low expectations here when we serve a big God”, said Tyson. “We believe in reaching our full potential for the glory of God and that means striving not just to be better athletes, but better people that obey what Jesus has commanded. Our mission is to provide the best sports experience possible so that we can disciple not only our kids but families and the community as well.”
For those looking to revitalize their ministry, John and Tyson’s experience shines a new light on how to reach and serve a community. In a town where too much is too transient, the church provides a rock upon which people can depend for constant service and care. By getting outside the typical boundaries of church ministry and exploring new partnerships within the community through sports, John and Tyson have spread, not just the Word, but also the comfort and presence of God.
Sports ministry is about more than just organizing sports. As Pastors John and Tyson show, sports ministry advances the deeper calling of being the hands and feet of Christ, while showing his love to a community is need.
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