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Building a new generation of sports ministry leaders

Date posted: 04/08/16
Building a new generation of sports ministry leaders
 
ReadySetGO Plus has huge potential to transform sports mission across Europe.
 
That was the overwhelming message from the young leaders who took part in the inaugural training programme full of fun, fellowship and gospel partnership this summer.
 
Matias Xavier, a basketball and American football player from Portugal and one of the 23-strong team, summed up the scheme’s potential.
 
He said: “It has been a really amazing experience. The highlight for me was to find 23 young people as hungry and passionate about sports and Christ as me.
 
“That just motivated me to do more and better and to keep on chasing this vision. It is a very well-constructed programme with a lot of things to offer.
 
“I really think the future for this vision in Europe passes through ReadySetGO.”
 
Matias and his fellow leaders from France, Finland, Germany, Serbia, Albania and the United Kingdom spent July learning and applying how they can reach the world of sport for Christ.
 
 

 
  
The programme began with two weeks of training in Bobbio Pellice in the Italian Alps before the leaders headed off in two teams to Macedonia and Portugal.
 
Those in Macedonia helped run the country’s first ever sports camp. The local leaders had been hoping to do this for a while, but never had enough people or resources until ReadySetGO Plus started.
 
The team got involved in basketball coaching and sharing the gospel in the small groups and main meetings. Young people at the camp included some from Roma gypsy communities, which the local leaders have worked with for years and the Christians in Sport Academy has been out to support.
 
In Portugal, the team led ‘KidsGames’ with young people from orphanages, institutions and local families in the cities of Lisbon and Sintra. This was similar to running sports days rather than specific coaching.
 
It is a government-funded project, so opportunities to share the gospel publically were limited. But the team spent time with young people in small groups, showing the basics of Christ’s love to many who have not had fatherly love or compassion shown to them.
 
Following that the group headed en masse to Jersey where they helped run the second Christians in Sport’s Sport Plus camp for young people. The group were part of coaching and second sport teams and highlights included an up-tempo Zumba class led by Finnish couple Mikko and Sini Jokinen. The team also shared their testimonies during the water breaks.
 
Building a new generation of sports ministry leaders
 
 
ReadySetGO is a global initiative designed to equip and multiply sports mission across the world. The free resource was created to help explain how any church or agency can serve the gospel through sport and play.
 
Ready is the process of gathering and envisioning people to make disciples for Christ in sport and play. Set prepares everyone to be a disciple-maker. GO gives us strategies to make disciples in the world of sport and play.
 
Since its global launch in November 2015, it is being rolled out across the different continents with the aim of seeing leaders pass on the training and multiplying the work. In the last eight months, more people have been trained using ReadySetGO than in five years with the previous sports leadership material. 

Following its European launch in May, came the ReadySetGO Plus programme for those aged 18-25, which Christians in Sport has been supporting. 
 
Mikko Jokinen said: "The biggest highlight for me is how we can bring together non-Christian and Christian sportspeople. It's amazing how it works.
 
"In Finland, we don't have sports ministry at all, so it's great to see how it works. I think it can also work in Finland very well.
 
"It has been great to see how different those camps can be in places like Portugal and Jersey. It can be different in Finland also, but I think that kind of sports ministry, it can work in every place."
 
Sini added: "It has been very great to serve young people and serve each other and see how God works in the field of sports. It's so amazing to see and I really hope that we can use these ideas to serve people in Finland."
 
Building a new generation of sports ministry leaders
 
Among the UK participants was hockey player Rob Sellar, from Belfast.
 
He said: "My highlight has been meeting people from all over the world who wanted to come and serve Christ in their sports. It just shows that gospel is for everyone and it has been really encouraging.
 
"This training is really good grounding for me going back to university and then for the world of work after that. Who knows where I will be, but to be set in using your sport as an opportunity for sharing who Jesus is - that's something I can't recommend more."
 
Footballer Sarah Prior, from London, added: “A big highlight has been learning about what sort of leader I am. I have also loved learning more about the gospel and how to share it with my teammates. 
 
"I have definitely become more confident in doing that. Hopefully, when I go back to uni in September I will be able to share that with my football teammates and other sportspeople at the university.”
 
After such a great start, plans are already under way for the second ReadySetGO Plus programme next summer. Contact caroline@christiansinsport.org.uk for more details. 
 
 

 

 

Ed Mezzetti close crop

Ed Mezzetti, City of York Athletic Club
Ed runs for City of York Athletic Club and is Digital Content Manager for Christians in Sport. He is a member of St Thomas' Church, York