St Paul’s Cheltenham – Youth Football

During Thursday afternoons (from 4.00-6.00pm) Simon Fellows, who works for PSALMS, runs two football sessions combining sport, fun and faith to the kids and youth alongside volunteers, ministers from churches in the local area and more recently the parents from the local community.  It has aimed to reach local community, provide a safe sporty environment for local kids and youth to enjoy every Thursday and also use it as a platform to explore the Christian Faith, finding out about the person of Jesus.

Some key things to highlight include:

  • 20-25 kids and youth each week.
  • 6 volunteers from local church, who have devoted time out of their working patterns to serve the children and young people in the community alongside PSALMS.
  • 1 young leader, unchurched, has helped lead within the church at a summer camp, themed ‘space academy’, that received 30-40 unchurched kids with 18 making commitments to Jesus by the end of the camp.
  • The mix of the local community with families from the church serving alongside their own kids was a joy to see.

Over the Thursdays this term we have focused on the role of a captain in a football match where Jesus was leading by example and the power of inclusion that Jesus demonstrated by passing the ball to the whole team before we try to go for goal.  The children have also been praying for each other and for healing and are engaging with this asking to pray for each other.

These Thursday sessions have been running for a number of years now and have proven to be sustainable through strong volunteer support.  The focus has in recent years gravitated towards school years 3-7 with growing numbers being a great encouragement.  Due to the simple nature of the setup this could be replicated to other communities.

We recently had a community event involving games inside the church with food being served and the majority of the work being facilitated by the parents and guardians of the children present, this was fantastic to see such synergy and many more opportunities for fellowship are planned.

Next Steps

After a review meeting, the focus going forward will be on reconnecting with the youth and praying into how we can engage with them and introducing Jesus and his message of a radical lifestyle with fullness of life.  Going into the schools will be the first point of contact and aimed at inviting children to Thursday sessions to play football and to have an opportunity to explore questions of faith.