I read an interesting
response to a question many of us have been asking for a while-why
is church attendance declining? Well, according to a new study published in theReview of Religious
Research, many pastors place most of the blame on children's sports
While I can't say I personally have noticed a
large number of kids sitting out Sundays because of sports, I have
wrestled with athletics in my weekday ministry as well as whenever
I've tried to plan special events. It seemed someone always had
practice or a big game they couldn't miss.
If you find yourself with half-empty rooms
while your kids are in the playoffs, here are three tips and tricks
1. Recruit a Team- In
Sick and Tired of Competing With Sports, Greg Baird shares the
do's and don'ts when dealing with sports. In one point, Greg
suggests that we should collaborate with parents concerning sports.
"Our top goal must be spiritual growth-whether kids
are in the church building or on the sports field," says Greg.
"What if our positive perspective led to a genuine partnership with
parents? What if, when families choose sports, we equip them to be
ambassadors for Jesus in that environment?"
Show families the benefits of being in church.
But when parents choose sports over Sunday school, equip them to be
missionaries on the field.
2. Get in the Game-In his article, A
Sporting Chance, Keith Johnson argues that churches are winning
in the sports vs. church battle. "They simply have recognized that
competition is healthy; sports are part of American life and for
many subcultures, sports is actually a way to stay out of trouble
and focus on appropriate social maturity," says Keith.
He points out many churches have found ways to
connect with kids through sports outreach programs, or even by
simply teaming up with the local parks and recreation department.
Make connections with league organizers and even volunteer to coach
or host a training camp. Look at sports as an opportunity, not the
3. Be a Cheerleader- So you don't have the
time or resources to do some of the ideas above? Then
adopt a sports team. Find a local team that none of your kids
are on, and be a cheerleader for them. Be a blessing to their team
by bringing them water and after-practice snacks. Have your kids
paint banners to hang up. If you find a high school team to
support, take your kids to watch them. It makes for a fun and
By supporting local teams, you're not only
reaching out into your community for new kids, you're also reaching
the families and friends of the kids your supporting.
How do you handle sports in your ministry?
Where do you put the blame for declining church attendance? Share
your thoughts below with us.