More than twenty years ago, one of the spiritual sages in our community, Rev. Charles Munson, was putting the shovel in the ground as Park Street Brethren Church was having their groundbreaking ceremony to build a family life center that would house their new gymnasium. As I enjoyed Charlies’s humor-filled vision-casting speech, it was at that moment that God birthed in me the vision to pursue the development of a sports ministry.
As I watched more and more athletes become skilled at their sport(s)-of-choice, I began watching sports become their god-of-choice. Homes and churches were becoming vacated as families traveled on weekends to sports clinics and weekend tournaments and countless travel leagues. Instead of getting mad about this like I used to, God called me to take His gospel message to where people were playing their sports. Take the church to their turf.
Many times when God calls us to do something for Him, we are not ready to do it. He must develop changes in and around us for the timing to be right. After moving back to the Ashland community in 2006, I gathered some of my soccer-loving spiritual friends and began sharing the vision to develop Spirit-Driven Soccer. My boss told me that if you call it “Spirit-Driven Soccer” then no one will come.
What unfolded over the next 8 years was a continuous flow of soccer lovers who came to play their sport-of-choice with family, friends and teammates. We began offering Home Field Advantage groups to help people grow spiritually. We invested in missional causes to change lives around the world as the gospel was shared and practical, urgent needs were met. We offered sports minister’s training groups. And we watched the Holy Spirit bless this ministry. Many broken lives were healed. People who were initially resistant to God as we shared halftime “Soccer Talks” eventually came to Christ.
God surrounded this ministry with people who prayed and began forming relationships for kingdom purposes. We formed an oversight board and obtained our 501(c)3 status as a non-profit ministry. Teams multiplied, and now we stand at a turning point in this ministry where we are asking the Lord, “What’s next?”
Our passions were given to us by God to determine where we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We are usually surrounded by people who love to play and do the same things that we love to do. As many churches have declined, it seems that the best way to form relationships and share Christ is through our commonly shared sports and passions. As this ministry unfolds, I envision passion-based ministries developing as people take seriously God’s call on their lives to make disciples of our people groups. And because of God’s Spirit driving and directing this ministry, people will get energized as they serve through their passions, and people will come to Christ while enjoying what they love to do.