Stories

Sharing your faith in the off-season

Date posted: 18/04/17

Sharing your faith in the off-season

 

The referee’s whistle brings an end to a tough, but rewarding season. As you and your teammates come together for one final huddle on the now sun-baked turf, you look ahead to the summer break. You really love your sport and get a real buzz out of playing, but it will be nice to relax for a couple of months before pre-season kicks in and you are back firing on all cylinders.

For many of us, playing sport is a seasonal affair. Football in the UK, for example, traditionally takes place from August to May, while cricket is played between April and September. At the end of a long season, it's only natural to want to rest our legs and enjoy a bit of a break - after all, our bodies need to recuperate.

But what does it look like to share our faith in these off-seasons, when maybe we don’t get to see our friends as often as before?

As Christians, the Bible tells us that we should always be prepared to explain our faith to those who ask us questions. That is what 1 Peter 3 v 15 is all about.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect - 1 Peter 3 v 15 (NIV)

In this letter, Peter is encouraging his readers to persevere in the face of suffering. He describes the believers as scattered exiles who are a long way from home, but reminds them how amazing the salvation they have in Jesus is.

No matter what difficulties they are facing, Peter says in verse 15 that in their hearts they should ‘revere Christ as Lord’. That is another way of saying they should honour or praise Jesus. One way we can do this is by always being prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for our hope in Jesus.

Being a Christian in sport means living and speaking for Jesus in our clubs and teams. Those opportunities may come along fairly often when we are training twice a week as well as playing matches, but without that regular timetable, sharing our faith can easily get put on the back burner - even if that was never our intention. How then can we get the balance right in the off-season? How can we always be prepared?

 off-season witness

 

Here are three tips to help us think through the issue:

Keep in touch

There is a danger that we can see the off-season from sport as an off-season from speaking to our teammates about Jesus as well. For many sportsmen and women, the regular season can mean a lot of time away from home and family with training and matches, so we automatically look to reduce our commitments when it ends.

This is understandable, but the gospel and the need to share the good news doesn't stop when the season ends. The great commission is still the same. As our seasons end, we could consider whether there are one or two teammates we could particularly keep in touch with. Maybe there are those we could invite to look at the Bible with us once a week or fortnight, building on chats we have already had?

Keep playing

We could find a "gym buddy" to train with for an extended pre-season, while footballers or rugby players could organise regular five-a-side or touch sessions. We all enjoy our sport, so why not keep it up, even in an informal way? In order to allow more time for conversations, why not go for a meal afterwards. It’s important we have an “on-season mentality” for sharing our faith in Jesus in the off-season.

Take the initiative

Why not think what events could we organise at our clubs over the off-season to maintain the friendships we have built up? This may be harder to do if we have only joined our club recently, but let’s go for it. As Christians in sport, we have a real opportunity to be trend setters in the off-season.

We can try and alter the culture of our clubs to ensure that relationships continue to be built and we still get together throughout the off-season. That might mean going to watch international matches or getting people round for meals, whatever works best in your club.


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Ed Mezzetti

 

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