During February half-term I had the privilege of working with Scripture Union (SU) Croatia, where as part of their ‘discovery training’ week for SU staff from across Europe, I led lectures on using sport in ministry.
Upon arriving on Saturday lunch-time I met the students and a team of from the local church who would be assisting me in running Croatia’s very first ‘sweaty church’ that evening in a local sports hall. It was completely new for all, however the team were brilliant and everyone who attended it really enjoyed it! We explored the theme of ‘coping under pressure’, playing lots of games around this subject as well as exploring how David coped with pressure when faced with fighting Goliath. The church who provided the volunteers were so impressed with ‘Sweaty Church’ that they have since decided to make it a monthly event which is fantastic!
On Sunday we travelled to DPB house, an idyllic rural location where SU Croatia run their summer camps. From Monday to Thursday the students had various lectures, and then had Friday to put together a youth event programme using all that they had learnt, which they would be running for a local church on the Saturday.
Within the sports ministry lectures we explored what sports ministry is, a brief history, types of sports ministry, strengths and challenges, how faith and sport work together and then spent the following three days looking at and experiencing sports ministry in a school context, community context and church context. Due to fantastic weather we were able to spend most afternoons outside where I demonstrated many ways of using sport and games to share the Christian faith, and then tasked the students to come up with games to illustrate various Bible stories, parables and characteristics of God. On Wednesday we explored sports-themed prayer spaces and after experiencing some of mine, the students then came up with their own sports-themed prayer stations which were brilliant!
It was a real joy to see the students grasp how great a tool sport can be for sharing the gospel, the simplicity of it and how those who didn’t see themselves as ‘sporty’ were excited when they realised that even they could be involved in sports ministry! Allowing the students to experience and then practice delivering sports ministry amongst themselves gave them the opportunity to try ideas out in a safe environment, and then the confidence to take these ideas away with them. Each student went away inspired and wanting to use sports ministry, and I am excited to see what God does in and through them as they put into place some of what they experienced.
Emily Twigg, PSALMS Sports Minister (2019)
Here are some quotes from those that attended the training:
‘I am not usually a sport person, but I love sport. I would never say I could use sport in ministry, but after Emily came and taught us about sports ministry, I realized I can do this. I look forward to seeing what we can do in our own church and in our community, maybe in school and of course through SU Croatia’. – Marijana (SU Croatia)
‘This training was very helpful to us mostly because that equipped us with great practical tools, materials and experience on how to use sports and games in Ministry work. We started this Ministry in Latvia quite recently and It was amazing opportunity to learn from those who have more experience and knowledge in this field.’– Zane (SU Latvia)
“Sports ministry was new for me, but it was nice to find out how you can reach people through sport ministry.” – Ruta (SU Lithuania)