Why Sidelines Are Powerful Places
Take advantage of the unifying bond that sports provide to grow God’s Kingdom.
By CoDY BAXTER, Athletic Director
In C.J. Mahaney’s book, Don’t Waste Your Sports, Mahaney explains that sports are a gift from God, but we will waste them if we play for our own glory. Ultimately, our goal should be to play for the glory of God and to take advantage of the skills and gifts gracefully bestowed upon us.
OUR ROLE ON THE SIDELINES
Similarly, I believe that God has called parents of athletes to not “waste their sidelines,” one of the best and simplest places to interact with families who might believe something completely different than you do. In a covenant Christian community, it is easy to get pulled into comfortable niches, especially when it comes to sports. So, the question becomes, “What is my role as parent and/or spectator on the sidelines?”
Most would say it is to encourage, to cheer, and to support. They would be right – but what if you could do much more than that? What if you could help grow God’s kingdom? What if you could create lasting relationships and impressions through sports that draw others to Jesus?
SPORTS CAN UNIFy
Sports are a divider. They create rivalries, divide households, and even perpetuate hate. At the same time, ironically, sports are a unifier. They bring together people from all races, ethnicities, and religions. This is especially prevalent at the youth, grassroots level.
I operate a recreational sports league at Perimeter Church called IGNITE Sports Academy. IGNITE has about 1,300 participants annually, and many of these children come from Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim families, and there are a few families who have told me that they are atheists.
Why would people with these religious backgrounds ever set foot in a protestant, Christian church? Simple - sports. They want their children to play, compete, and become unified with a team while they watch from, you guessed it, the sidelines. The exact same place that a Perimeter School parent may be sitting.
A BRIDGE TO THE COMMUNITY
Clearly, sports are a bridge to the community. That bridge brings families directly to you, a member of the body of Christ. Now is your chance. Whether it be through a faith-based sports league in a church or with a community team at the local park, use your time on the sidelines to start relationships, set a Godly example as a spectator, and grow God’s kingdom. Invest in the lives of the parents around you using sports as the common ground. Then, build the relationship.