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Reaching the 10 million

How to take the gospel to British sports people – by Jonny Reid

At Town Church in Bicester a large proportion of our church family are involved in sports clubs and teams in the town. This is partly because we have people who love sport in our church, and partly because a few of us work in sports ministry.

But ultimately, we’re involved because, as we look to reach people in Bicester with the gospel, we see amazing opportunities to meet and interact with people who don’t know Jesus through the medium of sport.

It’s estimated that 10 million people play sport each week in the UK. Within a few miles of your church there will be thousands of people engaged in clubs and teams on a weekly basis. 

Knowing about this really influenced us as we started Town Church over the last few years. Our Sunday gathering is at 4pm for lots of reasons, but partly to account for the volume of youth sport taking place on a Sunday morning. It’s also proved a great time for families, as we share food together after each service before many head off to put their children to bed. 

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Hosting sportspeople through events

As well as having an afternoon service, we’ve run a number of events to reach the thousands of sportspeople in the town. Each year we run a sports quiz where we pack out the rugby club with about 100 people, the vast majority of whom have never come to church, to enjoy a sports quiz and hear a short evangelistic talk. We’ve had teams come from most of the local clubs, even those where we don’t know any Christians, as well as local schools’ PE teachers and parents.

Last year we looked to capitalise on the excitement around the FIFA World Cup and ran what we called World Cup Sunday’. We had a five-a-side football tournament, family games and a BBQ, where we shared a short gospel talk before watching an England match on the big screen. We had loads of families and friends turn up who wouldn’t normally come to church, and we were able to preach the gospel and invite them back to Town Church in the following weeks.

The beauty of these types of event is that, even if people in your church don’t like sport (and not all of our church do), they can still engage. This could be through some great quiz rounds for sporting sceptics, or through the fun of a family day with face painting and games for the kids.

Making the most of this summer

This year we made the most of FIFA Women’s World Cup and ran a similar event on 7 July, the day of the World Cup Final. To broaden its appeal, we called it a Family Fun Day’ and hosted a football tournament and showed the final on the big screen. It was such a fantastic opportunity to welcome local families and sportspeople into the life of the church for a day. 

We’re now looking to build on these relationships during the next big tournament of the year – the Rugby World Cup. With matches happening in Japan from 20 September to 2 November, it’s a chance to host breakfast events and start conversations through evangelistic films or short gospel talks during the half-time break.

Reaching the nation’ of sport

In our experience at Town Church sport is a great way to engage people with the gospel, and that’s why Christians in Sport, where I work, create resources to help share Jesus with sportspeople. The Sports Mission Pack is just one of our resources absolutely stacked with ideas and materials to put on evangelistic events, including new content specifically designed for the Rugby World Cup.

Why not join us at Town Church this autumn in reaching out to local sportspeople through rugby-themed evangelistic events? It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Photo by Hanson Lu

About the author

Jonny Reid is one of the leaders of Town Church Bicester and communications team leader at Christians in Sport. He’s an avid hockey and cricket player, husband to Caroline and father to little Duncan.

See more from Jonny Reid

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