28 June 2022

Sports mission: Be inspired by the Commonwealth Games

Maria Carter

People lining up on an athletics track getting ready to start a race
Communications Officer Maria Carter shares how the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is inspiring the Army across the West Midlands to use sport as part of our mission.

Athletes and para athletes from around the world will take part in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games from 28 July to 8 August. Birmingham will also be full of people attending special arts and cultural events relating to sport. Before, during and after the Games there will be opportunities to get involved, showing how we, as The Salvation Army, love God and love others.

The West Midlands Division has been planning for this for some time. Rob Moye, the territory’s sports mission specialist, has been supporting corps and centres as they engage with their communities, using sport and activities as a way of talking about Jesus. The desire is to create a legacy of sport and exercise for mission in the division, to be used, shaped and developed well beyond the close of the Games.

Corps and centres have been inspired to explore sports mission by hosting events. A fundraising football match between Lifehouses in Birmingham and West Midlands police and a golf day near Coventry have already taken place. On 2 July, the Army’s Aston 614 youth centre will host a community day with football, gaming, food and worship.

Other events include a parkrun on the Saturday of the Together 2022 weekend (15–17 July), with pop-up sports tasters at Brindleyplace in the afternoon, a divisional trail run in the autumn, then a Couch to 5K run organised by Birmingham Citadel, corps rambles, fundraising cycle rides and integration with local running clubs. Some corps are still planning what they will do and are working out the best ways to meet people’s needs.

People running a park
Salvationists are invited to join the parkrun at Edgbaston Reservoir on Saturday 16 July during Together 2022 in Birmingham – register at parkrun.org.uk

‘God is calling us everywhere, so that in every encounter, in every journey and in our everyday lives, we have opportunities to see what God is doing and join in with that,’ enthuses Rob.

‘Connecting your passion for Jesus with your love of sport can provide you with fresh opportunities for mission, which could open new doors and allow you to build new relationships in the lives of people within your communities.

‘We strive to support and encourage the grassroots Church to create a life of sustainable, community-centred and focused sporting mission. We have the opportunity to support people with their mental health, wellbeing, addiction, loneliness and so much more through sport as we worship with and disciple others, going deeper and further with people everywhere. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).’

Divisional Youth Specialist Laura-Jane Kingscott (West Midlands) speaks of her experiences: ‘Sports mission is an avenue for Jesus to use me to reach as many people as I can. I get to combine my love of sport with my love for Jesus and my passion for others to know about this amazing love that will change their lives. What could be better than that?’

Birmingham Lifehouse Salvation Army football team
Birmingham Homelessness Services football team at a recent fundraising match against West Midlands police

Major Adrian Allman (Birmingham Citadel) says: ‘I often hear the phrase “you need to get out more” and sport and similar activities give members of our church opportunities to not only look after their own wellbeing – to take care of what God has made – but also to move beyond our building and meet other people. Sports mission is an opportunity for God’s people to be out there, to build relationships and share the story of God’s amazing grace in their lives.’

The first thing to look at is what facilities you have on your doorstep, such as a recreation ground where an activity could be held. Do you feel God is calling your corps to reach out to its community? If plan A doesn’t work, maybe plan B will! You can email Rob at sportsmission@salvationarmy.org.uk to talk through any ideas.

Watch out for posts about missional sporting events on our social media channels. In the meantime, you can meet Rob and others from the West Midlands Division in person at Together 2022 and they can explain more about how they have integrated sports mission into corps mission.

Written by

Maria Carter

Maria Carter

Communications Officer

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