When Church Planter Tim Zuck was investigating a possible church plant near Easton, PA in Forks Township, they discovered that sports was going to be key in reaching people in the community. Tim Zuck coached teams for kids and he and his wife, Tori, intentionally got to know the families from the teams. Forks Community Church hosts Push the Rock sports camps for kids each summer. Tim Zuck also invited Slingshots Esports to run two videogaming outreach events. All of this intentional outreach has reached families for Christ in Forks Community. Office Assistant Rachel Schmoyer even saw the effects of it in Whitehall. While getting to know one of the guidance counselors at her children’s school, she found out she knew the Zucks. How did she know them? From community sports.
Forks Community Church is not the only church plant who has intentionally used sports as part of their church planting. Redeemer BFC in Topton hosted a 3 on 3 basketball tournament this summer at the local park. Cape Community Church in Cape May, NJ and Grace Community Church in Chestertown, MD use archery classes for kids to make community connections in order to share the gospel. James Reff, church planter in Chestertown, recently said their church plant is known as “that church that does archery.” They call their ministry Centershot. Christ Alone Fellowship in Lancaster City, PA is known for their breakdancing. They have weekly classes for kids led by Romeero Melendez and Lynette Morales. The kids’ class includes a catechism teaching to share the
basics of faith in Jesus Christ. Many families have come to the church because of this
ministry including one child who was saved through the class and baptized at the church! Tim and Kaylena Radcliff at CROSSroads: a BFC in Elverson, PA are preparing to get to know people from the community through sports as Kaylena will be an assistant soccer assistant coach this fall. Kaylena was a soccer player at Eastern University.
But sports are not just for the kids. Pastor Aaron Smith from Northern Lehigh BFC coached an adult softball team along with Joel Titmas from Whitehall BFC. Pastor Aaron said, “The softball team gave me time to spend with guys I was ministering to. I don’t think my relationship with some of the guys would be what it is today without softball.” Many of those men had hard things they were dealing with in their lives. Pastor Aaron also got to share the gospel as he did a devotional after every game. Despite the team being in a church league, many of the players heard the gospel for the first time during these devotionals.
In addition to the kids’ breakdancing classes, Romeero also organizes The Cypher Spot, a breakdancing jam session for adults at the church every other week. A cypher is the circle that the dancers stand in while they take turns dancing in the middle of the circle and cheering each other on. During the evening, Romeero gives a testimony and a devotional to share the gospel with the many people who attend. Breaking competitions are also a big draw for Christ Alone Fellowship’s block parties.
Sports have been used since the beginning of the BFC’s church planting efforts. Richard Taylor, Mentoring Assistant with Church Extension and BFC Historian, noted that the young men who made up the Gospel Heralds in the early 1900s used sports to reach the community. The present-day Grace BFC in Wallingford, PA was originally planted in Chester, PA. Pastor R.C. Richenbach and others remember the Gospel Heralds (young men who were ministers in training) playing baseball and football with the kids of the community in a vacant lot across the street from the mission. Many of those children came to know the Lord through the church plant and some even went into the ministry.
When you find yourself on the sidelines this sports season, watching your kids or grandkids, remember how God uses sports to build His church. Pray for the kids on the field, the families cheering them on, and look for gospel conversations around you. Remember your church planters in prayer as they use sports to reach people for Christ.