These tips for dealing with spring sports will help you reach kids and grow your program.
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 study published in the Review of Religious Research, many pastors place most of the blame on children’s sports activities.
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 for you!
1. Recruit a Team
In his article, 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 enemy.
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 simple event.
By supporting local teams, you’re not only reaching out itoyour 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.
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