Sam Sievers, Lenexa Baptist Church - Lenexa, KS

When the Church Stays Present
in the Community

For Sam Sievers and his leadership team at Lenexa Baptist Church in Kansas, forfeiting an entire year of their sports ministry would have been a worst-case scenario. With children and families in mind, offering a safe and fun league with adjustments was a must to continue to be a presence in the community. “The community needed a place to go where they could be loved and ministered to”, said Sam. After meeting together as a team, that is what the church decided to give the community, during such a time of uncertainty.
Despite the many challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Sam and his team were able to continue their ministry. Lenexa Baptist Church was able to offer their basketball and cheerleading league, with minor adjustments. Sam’s ministry team utilized devotion resources provided by Upward to walk 400 kids through the book of John. “This is a great way where Upward comes alongside of you, but does not change what we do, they support the ministry of the church to the fullest” stated Sam. It took a lot of hard work and all hands-on deck, but Lenexa Baptist Church adapted to change and provided just what the community needed.

“We were determined to do whatever it took to continue pouring into each child and family. We had to face head-on the question of how to love our community in the best way through everything that was going on. We knew that by continuing our league in whatever way we could, we would be opening the door to love families in a deeper way.”

As a Children’s Pastor that inherited this league, Sam knew the importance of a successful leadership team that would prioritize communication. Sam never made a decision in isolation or without consulting his team. Through frequent discussions with parents, coaches, and volunteers, Sam made sure to learn what families were most concerned about and what struggles they faced. Many families, for example, expressed concern about grandparents feeling isolated from their grandkids due to their health vulnerabilities. So, Sam and his team responded. They set up a camera and live stream equipment so that all games could be broadcasted online. These broadcasts regularly drew an audience of more than 1400 people every week. “The church should respond to the needs of the community and share the love of Christ, and something as simple as a live stream said just that,” stated Sam.
Running a sports league provides many lessons in leadership. One of the main things that Sam learned from his experience is the importance of investing in the next generation of leaders, just as other leaders have invested in him. “Healthy leaders, grow healthy leaders. You must invest in others, prepare others, and develop others. This is part of doing life together,” said Sam. This strategy especially paid off during the pandemic when logistics were constantly changing, and coaches needed to be flexible while also helping their own families adjust.

But Sam believes that one of the most important things he learned is that true leaders don’t make themselves indispensable; instead, they focus on building up the community to further the mission of glorifying God and forming disciples. Sports is one way for leaders to build a Godly community. Sports serve as an effective method of breaking down barriers between all backgrounds and bringing new individuals into a community where connection truly begins. “We want to launch all families into the World, preparing them for what God has planned,” said Sam.
Sam understands that as Christians, we are called to be set apart. That means there should be something different about the way we do things. He lives out his ministry calling by stating, “Everyone is created on purpose for a purpose.” Sam knows the purpose behind why his church continues to minister to their community through sports. Simply put, “Sports opens the door to create excited disciples, and that is what we are all about.”

Everyone is created on purpose, for a purpose.

Sam is beginning to meet with his leadership team to offer another impactful basketball and cheerleading league this upcoming winter. He is excited about using Project Select, Upward’s new initiative that allows churches to customize their sports experience. With this option, he plans to tailor his league to the community and support his children’s ministry goals.

Find out why hundreds of churches across the country are partnering with us to reach their community.

connect with us on social media

©2024 Upward Unlimited™. Upward® is a registered trademark of Upward Unlimited. Upward is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry.