As the Paralympics kicks off, the whole world comes together again to cheer on their home nation in yet another huge sporting event.
Sporting events like this always bring home to me the relevance of my job. You see, I believe that we can transform young people’s lives with God’s love through sport.
I’m concerned that young people in their droves have stopped coming to church. According to the Evangelical Alliance you are more likely to have survived being on the Titanic than you are your childhood Christian faith. Around 85 per cent of young people in the UK never step foot inside a church these days. This is a problem we at Kick London want to counter and I believe working together,we can stem the tide.
So, how does sport change lives? Well, we met someone from one of our football academies called Jason. He was getting into a lot of trouble at school and was at risk of being excluded, so we invited him to one of our football academies. In a short period of time, we’ve seen him develop not only into a talented footballer, but also learnt to channel his emotions to develop aspirations for his life. Jason says: “The Kick coaches gave me a chance. They didn’t label me, but they took me in and welcomed me like family. When I was too old to play I thought they would say that they had done all they could, but they let me help coach the younger lads. It has given me a chance to give something back, they did so much for me and I can now help and encourage those who are just like I was.
“I’m now playing semi-professional football, doing a BTEC and my level three coaching course, and I want to become a sports coach – that’s all thanks to Kick London.”
Faith and sport can work together – they needn’t be separate. Sport is a universal language and we can use this to reach people to share about who Jesus is and what he has achieved for humanity.
Young people are a captive audience. Teachers and coaches have such an ability to shape these children. The charity I work for delivers sports services laced with Christian values. Through PE lessons, after-school clubs, lunchtime provision, and assemblies, mentoring and our new street dance provision, we use this hook to build relationships.
For example, our classes might have the theme one day of ‘focus’ – so we focus on passing, heading and shooting. Then in the sports ministry slot, the young people are taught about an inspirational story about the theme from the Bible – where Peter focused his eyes on Jesus and got out of the boat to meet him in faith. This is a switch that engages the young people as we share using sport.
As sports fever sweeps the nation and people of all ages get inspired by our Olympians and Paralympians, it’s time for the Church to step up and meet these passions. How can you use Jessica Ennis-Hill’s success to teach your community about the Bible? How can Daivd Weir be used to explain something of God’s love for us?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Kick London works with over 5,000 young people every week. We are committed to seeing lives transformed, working in 37 different Schools in London and with 20 Kick Academies. In the schools we deliver PE national curriculum, assemblies, lunch-time and after school clubs as well as solutions focused mentoring and street dance. Our vision is to place a Kick coach in every community in London. God has blessed our work. If you are interested in Kick London’s work and have a passion to see more young people engaged in Church please contact us.