27 July 2023

Sport, Faith, Life: Faith together through sport

Vicky Hendry

Photo shows the delegates of Sport Faith Life posing for a photo wearing matching white shirts.

Vicky Hendry writes about the Sport, Faith, Life weekend.

Sports mission is a fantastic opportunity to engage with communities of all ages.

For those of us who feel called to try and share something of our faith in this way, another fantastic opportunity is to spend a weekend in June at the University of Nottingham, at Sport, Faith, Life.

This weekend truly demonstrates what the very best of sports mission can look like for delegates that attend, and for those we engage with now and hope to engage with in the future through this amazing avenue called sport.

‘I believe God smiles when churches work together for the Kingdom’s sake’ said Sports Mission Specialist Rob Moye (THQ). This collaborative, Kingdom-focused event was hosted by The Salvation Army, the Church of England, Sportily and Scripture Union, offering people the chance to come together, dive into God’s word, meet other sport mission practitioners, share and explore ideas and reflect on our small role in God’s amazing big plan.

Delegates were encouraged to reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3, considering how to pray that the gospel runs swiftly, increase the popularity of Jesus’ story through engagement with others, and to pray for God’s peace as we go.

We were reminded that sports mission doesn’t begin and end on the pitches, recreation grounds and within our own programmes, but that by joining in with existing communities of sport, by being present in our engagement, and by considering the potential influence of those on the touch lines, we have an opportunity to lead, not just by showing, but by sharing!

We played sports too in the glorious sunshine. Over two sessions we played football, ran trim trails, played multisport and discovered new games like boccia and tchoukball. We also played games to demonstrate our need to put balls down, reflect on our reactions and widen our perspective, and through these things we discovered how we build relationships, deepen friendships and encourage each other.

Another staple of the conference’s spotlight talks – a carousel of three 15-minute sessions looking at the power of the MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) – were the stewardship of influence and the psychology of belonging. These challenged and stretched us and breathed new insight into the power of sport mission engagement, and this was just the Saturday!

It all built up to an evening reflection walk around the boating lake within the university grounds, where we were invited to create a leather plaited band symbolising our sport, our faith and our life, and how they intertwine, before sharing social time in front of the women’s rugby final.

Sunday morning provided an opportunity to reflect on Matthew 11:28 to 30, to get away with God – to walk with him but not be lazy in our walking, but to work with him too, still considering our walk with him as we do this work.

We made our ‘game plans’ based on our ‘take-aways’ from the weekend and refined them with our friends before being sent out, back to our homes and our sporting communities to continue our journey and to share Jesus by being salt and light.

We created a board of words that had impacted us most and were given a T-shirt which symbolised putting on the armour of God to remind us of our time together and to equip us as we go!

It’s an exciting time to be involved in sports mission, and there are unlimited ways to join in, engage with people of all ages and in all spaces – from pitches to parks to driveways on estates.

Written by

The Salvation Army red shield

Vicky Hendry


Sport | Faith | Life

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