Outward Basketball

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There’s a new sports program that some churches are using to impact their communities with the gospel. Surprisingly, this new program won’t cost your church a dime. And you don’t even need the money to build a gym or the space to put in a baseball or soccer field.

All you need is families who love Jesus.

Here’s how it works.

Go to your local recreation department. Sign your kid up for your sport of choice. Go with him to his practices and games. While there, develop relationships with the other families. During those long practices, try to make a point to put your phone away for a few minutes and talk to the other parents. Pray for God to give you opportunities to both share and demonstrate the gospel with these families.

If you’re able and if there is an opportunity, coach one of the teams. Perhaps you don’t feel qualified to be a coach because you don’t know enough about the game. Relax. Georgia Tech routinely hires coaches who know nothing about the game. But seriously, take the time to learn the sport. Not only is it a great opportunity for you to get involved with your kid but it’s also a great chance for you to show Christ to other kids. Do you realize how many children never hear an adult tell them that they are proud of them? Hearing it from you could be the one event that God uses to begin to open their eyes to the gospel.

If you’re not coaching, walk up to the coach after practice. Tell him that you appreciate what he is doing. Take some time to talk to him about him and not why your kid isn’t getting enough playing time and why said kid will almost certainly go pro one day if that coach would just do a little better job. Find out where your kid’s coach is doubting, worrying or hurting. Look for ways that you can serve him. Pray for him and tell him that you are.

This really isn’t a new sports program. It’s the same program that was used in the church’s early days, long before basketball was invented. It’s simply a matter of being intentional about engaging others as you go out into the world.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Acts 17:17 (ESV)

A sure sign of a healthy church is when that church regularly hears the truth of the gospel and can’t help but take it outside of the church building. Sometimes that passion leads people to war zones in the Middle East. Sometimes it leads them to the local recreation department.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that many churches have done well using Upward to reach out to the community. That’s a good thing. But it’s not the only thing.

I’m not writing a hit piece on Upward. If that’s your church’s approach, good. Instead, I’m writing an encouragement piece for churches who don’t have the space, personnel or finances to do that sort of thing. I’ve spoken to people who have a Maybe One Day Attitude. “Maybe one day, we can build a gym and start letting the community come in so we can reach them.”

You don’t have to wait until one day gets here. I don’t care how small your church is, if you are committed to the gospel, one day is now. Instead of waiting for the community to come to you, just go to them. And there’s no better place to go to them than at the recreation department.

You’ll see it all there.

You’ll see parents who wake up in the morning thinking of new and creative ways to curse at coaches, referees, opposing players and even their own children.

You’ll see kids who are trying to live under the pressure of a parent with expectations that no one can reach.

You’ll see the false god named College Scholarship worshiped and sacrificed to on a routine basis.

You’ll see it all.

But they all need to see Jesus. They need to see him as he is presented in the Bible. They need to see his words lived out.

And there’s a good chance that they’re not going to come to your church for that. Not yet at least.

So it’s your job to take it to them.

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