What does it mean to be a Christian in sport?

Date posted: 27/10/16

How can I pray for Sports Plus 2016?


This autumn we are outlining some of our plans for the next 12 months and asking people to consider whether they might be able to support us financially in the mission of reaching the world of sport for Christ. As we think more about our mission, our General Director, Graham Daniels, considers the question ‘What is a Christian in sport?’

What does it actually mean to be a Christian in sport? I was asked this earlier this year by a colleague just before kick-off at a Cambridge United game. I needed some time to frame my reply and, in the absence of any goals to discuss at half-time, I had the opportunity to offer my response. I wonder what you’d have said?

Jesus’ mission in Matthew 28 is that we ‘make disciples of all nations.’ His plan is that we help people in every country, culture and sub-culture become His followers. Therefore a Christian in sport is meant to make followers of Jesus in every part of the world of sport. It’s not too complicated really.

Jesus goes on to explain the three simple steps needed to actually do this. Firstly, we have to ‘go’. We don’t wait for sportspeople to come; we go and get stuck into sport as a player, coach or official.

Secondly, we encourage all sportspeople to identify with Jesus, since ‘baptising’ is simply an external symbol of the internal reality of turning to Christ and trusting in Him.

Finally, He asks us to ‘teach' [new followers] to obey everything I have commanded you.’ This means that we are to point new followers of Jesus to the Bible, so that they may act on what it says. This means therefore that all new followers are commanded to do the same; go out and implement the same strategies in their sub cultures so the work goes on, wider and further, and generation after generation.

women rowing


Isn’t it just great that this is all it means to be a Christian in sport! That’s why it’s so encouraging and challenging to ‘look at what God has done’ since sports mission began in earnest in the UK 40 years ago.

It’s great to hear stories of followers who committed their lives to Jesus, shared it with others and discipled them and watched the ripples of this good news spreading to others beyond their influence and generation.

This traces back to the late Gerry Williams, the tennis broadcaster, who in the early days of the work, became fired up about sharing his faith with sportspeople on a plane from Orlando to London in 1977 and immediately started to go and encourage others to do the same.

Jesus’ mission statement speaks of ‘all nations’ and extends not just to sportspeople in the UK but across Europe and the world. You will be in awe of what God has done in the last 40 years when you read of the ReadySetGo strategy that has been devised for use in every nation of the world. It’s impact has already been remarkable.

Behind this, there is one thing that has never changed and we pray never will, whether it’s in our work amongst young people at Sports Plus camps, with university sports teams, with local churches and sports clubs, amongst the elite athletes and coaches in UK or the European and global work.

From a few dozen sportspeople in 1976 to literally thousands of sportspeople in 2016, we remain as committed as ever to fulfil the plan of Jesus to ‘make disciples of all nations’ and so to make followers of Jesus in every part of the world of sport.

This is what it means to be a Christian in sport. It’s not a complicated mission but it does demand courage and commitment. Thank you for being part of Christians in Sport. Please keep making disciples yourself and please keep helping the work flourish with your prayers and financial support. We’re 40 years young and got a lot left to do!

We’re looking to expand the work more locally than ever before. This year we’ve based staff in six parts of the UK with, God willing, six more cities to follow next year and another six the year after. Our longing is to see more sportspeople respond to the gospel. Being more locally based, we can work with more churches to help Christians live out their faith in their sports clubs and teams. 

Clearly though, to do that, there is a cost.

Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us by December 2016 to support this growing work? 




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Graham Daniels, Cambridge United Football Club
Graham is a director of Cambridge United FC and is General Director of Christians in Sport. He is an associate staff member of St Andrew the Great (StAG) Church, Cambridge