Sport: A Universal Language
Do you love a hearty game of footy? Is tennis more your forté? Or would you rather exercise your vocal chords as you spectate? Whatever you’re preference, sport brings people together.
Just before the London Olympics in the summer of 2012, Kate Pizzey from ‘World Sports Ministries’ shared some insights with us as to why sport is such an effective evangelistic tool.
Kate, what’s the main purpose of ‘World Sports Ministries’ and why do you use sport to communicate the gospel?
The main purpose of WSM is to reach communities for Jesus. We partner with churches, organisations and individuals to plant ‘Community Sport Ministry Teams’ so as to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s our experience that sport offers the church the greatest opportunity to reach the largest number of people in the shortest space of time using the least amount of money!
Sport is a universal language – it spans social, age and cultural boundaries. Walk into a park with two jumpers and a football and just wait for a diverse crowd of strangers to join together and share an experience. Sport has an extraordinary ability to unite and build relationships – and isn’t that what we’re about as Christ’s body?
Eighty percent of our population is involved in sport. It is therefore brilliantly effective in connecting with our communities and bringing people to a place where they can hear God’s message.
What’s been your most exciting moment so far?
Wow, just one? Every event and ministry moment is exciting but my absolute most exciting has got to be the WSM mission trip to Kenya. Arriving at one school to run a multi sports afternoon with about 500 children was a fantastic and humbling experience.
How do you incorporate discussion about God in the activities?
Very experientially. For example, that afternoon on the outskirts of Nairobi we ran coaching sessions highlighting the character quality of sacrifice. When we then came to our ‘Team Talk’ we used everything they’d just experienced practically to help their understanding of what this quality means: for themselves, with others, and in their understanding of who God is. We were able to bring the focus around to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and His unconditional love for us. Seven girls in my group gave their lives to Jesus that day!
We use this experiential method on our children’s project ‘GET Sported’ and our teenage ‘Young Leaders’ programme.
WSM also runs sporting activities for adults including tournaments and sports quizzes. Jesus is proclaimed in various ways: a participant shares their testimony, or we may lead a discussion on a topical issue in the sporting world from a Christian perspective.
Could you give an example of someone who has become closer to Christ through the ministry?
A young lady on our Young Leaders programme has grown up doing GET Sported, hearing the gospel shared. As her knowledge of Jesus increased, last month she decided to commit her life to the Lord! We are able to maintain a mentoring role with her as she continues on the YL programme.
Could you share one thing that you’ve learnt from running sports events?
Be flexible! There is always something to adapt to.
Enjoy it: everyone is there to have a great time.
Believe: God can use any circumstance for His glory
… ok, that was three things!
-How can we get involved in sports ministry ourselves?
However you like! Take a basketball down to your local hoops and meet some guys from your community. Enjoy one of WSM’s tournaments with the friends you’ve invited. Watch the next big game with others and deepen current relationships. Encourage your children’s school mates to come along to a summer GET Sported Camp. Help your church to stage a community sports day or quiz (WSM can support you). Pray about setting up a Community Sports Ministry Team in your area. Have fun!
Could you take sports mission into your school for a day? : Click here