NIGERIAN BAPTIST CONVENTION
YOUTH & STUDENT MINISTRIES DEPARTMENT
SPORTS MINISTRY UNIT
. . . Transform lives to Reform Society . . . (Matthew 10:16; John 10:16)
DEFINITION: The Nigerian Baptist Convention Sports Ministry shall be defined in the words of Bryan Mason as “having passion for Jesus and sports, in that order”. The implication is that we shall not necessarily participate in sports because of the passion we have for sports but for the passion we have for Jesus Christ and His earthly kingdom. This would be achieved by individual local Baptist Church embracing sports ministry as an arm of the ministries of the local church through local Baptist Church organs like MMU, WMS, Youth, R.A, BSF and Sunbeam among others.
In other words, all organs of the local church shall participate in Sports Ministry because “the essence of doing sports includes building, maintaining and/or improving good physique, psychology and relationship” of members of a particular local Baptist Church and the people living in the surrounding of the church.
VISION: To see every local church of the Nigerian Baptist Convention use sport as a tool to complement church evangelism, discipleship and fellowship.
MISSION: The mission of the Nigerian Baptist Convention Sports Ministry shall be to
- Reach Up: Nigerian Baptist local churches would intercede for the sporting world and commit our involvement in sports ministry to God’s hand (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Reach In: Nigerian Baptist local churches would design curriculum to teach sports driven members, biblical principles to help them grow regularly in Christ (2 Timothy 2:2).
- Reach Out: The whole essence of the Nigerian Baptist Sports Ministry is outreach to sports driven communities that have less or no regard for God, and this, every Nigerian Baptist local church should strategize to do (John 10:16)
The purpose of Nigerian Baptist Convention Sports Ministry through individual local churches shall be to
- Transform Lives: to eradicate or reduce to barest minimum, moral decadence and character failure in the lives of contemporary athletes.
- Care for Sport People: by this, we mean that every local Baptist church should show concern for athletes in her assembly and translate the concern to the neighboring community of the church.
- Make them Disciples: by this, we mean local Baptist churches should endeavor to make converted athletes growing Christians through relationship.
- Encourage Excellence: When Jesus said His disciples should be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16), He was saying they should be good at whatever they are doing in the world without being worldly. Hence, Nigerian Baptist athletes should not be mediocre in their participation in sporting activities but should endeavor to be good at it to the glory of God.
- Reform Society: by this, we mean every growing Christian involved in sporting activities should endeavor to shine the light of Christ in the midst of darkness in the world of sport (Matthew 5: 14-16).
CATEGORIES OF SPORTS
There are four categories of sports, which are relevant for local church ministries. However, individual Baptist church should use her discretion to adapt them to the ministry life of the body:
- Competitive Sport: any sporting contest that has reward attached to it
- Physical Recreation: non-competitive sporting activities
- Aesthetic Activities: any kind of body movement like dancing and drumming
- Conditioning Activities: any kind of activities meant for health and fitness benefits like aerobics, weight training and exercise to music among others.
We encourage every local Baptist church to adapt these categories as applicable to her.
Similarly, whether a local church sport team participates in a competitive sport or a physical recreation, every member of the participating church sport team should understand that sport ministry is a corporate responsibility of the local church, whereby every member of the church must fall into one of the four areas of responsibility in sports ministry
- Chaplains: These are usually unpaid individuals appointed to remain religiously neutral while serving administrators, coaches and athletes. Chaplains determine the extent to which any church sport ministry would succeed because they are the lifeline of the ministry. The prayer team of the church would serve well in this capacity.
- Administrators/Coaching Crew: These ones are in-charge of the administration and management of the church sport team in the aspect of planning, preparing and participating in sporting events. Team coaches would be shepherd-coaches because they are in-charge of both the spiritual and athletic responsibilities of the church sports team. The evangelism/mission outreach team of the church would serve well in this capacity.
- Athletes: These are the major actors as far as ministering through sport is concerned. They would play sports with maximum comportment and consciousness of Christ during and after the sporting event (Matthew 10:16). The Youth, BSF, R.A and even Sunbeam band of the church would serve well in this capacity.
- Spectators: These ones are the church team supporters, and every other member of the local church should function in this capacity. Coupled with supporting the church sport team, they would serve in distributing tracts and one-on-one witnessing on the field where necessary.
THEOLOGY OF SPORTS
As Baptists, we shall define our theology of Sports as “participating in sports, not at the expense of worship but in reverence for God whether we win or we lose”. After all, beyond sport, even in the game/battle of life, we win some while we lose some. Hence, whether we win a sporting contest or we lose, God must always be glorified. In fact, our winning mentality shall be to win a soul rather than a sporting contest if we have to make a choice. Therefore, the attitude of a Nigerian Baptist with a right theology of Sports must include the following:
- Devotion: Participating in sports with the consciousness of God –Mark 12:30
- Spiritual Growth: Commitment to personal walk with God for personal spiritual growth -1John 2: 28-29
- Evangelism: Participating in sports with the intention of reaching the unreached –Luke 24: 47-48
- Discipleship: Participating in sport with the mindset of helping new converts to grow –1Thess 5:11
- Fellowship: Building church fellowship through sporting activities–1John 2:9-11
Competition is part of life and it makes sporting event lively or aggressive. However, competition is an amoral force; it is neither good nor bad. Therefore, if we are not careful as a denomination, participating in sporting competition could defeat the purpose of the Nigerian Baptist Sports Ministry. Hence, to participate in sporting competition within and/or outside the church, we must establish our competition on the truth of the word of God; 1Kings 18:16-40 and 1Chorintians 9: 24-27. We recommend that our sporting competition would have to:
- Be Instructed by God: We should desist from organizing competition for fun and moneymaking. We should rather organize competition because we feel God is leading us to do so.
- Provoke Prayers: Once we sense that God is leading us to organize or participate in any sporting competition, prayer of intercession and supplication should follow automatically. This would influence spectators and athletes alike to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.
- Focus on God: Any sporting competition that does not attempt to point people to God is not healthy, and it is not godly.
- Promote God and His Interest: Baptist churches organizing sporting competition must do so to promote God and His interests. A healthy sporting competition does not necessarily need the approval of the majority.
- Draw People to God: When God initiates our sporting competition; He will draw people unto Himself when we depend on Him.
- Compete to Win: Baptist-winning mentality shall be to win soul rather than sporting competition if we have to make a choice. Therefore, our winning mentality shall be embodied in ‘Christmanship’; competing as Christ would compete by putting in necessary effort to win and accepting occasional defeats when they come (Daniel 3:18).
- Discipline-Oriented: Christian competition organizers should device means or guiding principles to enforce discipline on every participating team in a given competition. This would aid the competition to be healthy.
It is necessary for every Baptist church to know that Sports Ministry cannot succeed in the church except the church leadership through the pastor has the following:
- Vision: Apart from the general vision of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, each local Baptist church needs personal vision for it.
- Mission Statement: This could be the same as the written vision of the local church to aid continuity when there is change in the leadership of the church.
- Purpose: It tells the reason why the church gets involved in sports ministry. In other words, without purpose, abuse is inevitable.
- Passion: this is the driving force for any local church sports ministry to achieve the vision and purpose.
Sporting events for consideration in the Nigerian Baptist Convention Sports Ministry shall not be limited to football but shall include the following:
Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Chess, Cricket, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Scrabble, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, and Volleyball among others, depending on sporting activity that is popular with a given community.
Pastor Samuel A. Alabi
Youth Ministerial Officer (Sports)
For Further Reading
Alabi, Samuel A. How to Use Sports for Missions: An African Perspective (Ibadan: Simplex Creations, 2016).
Alabi, Samuel A. Gospel in the Stadium (Ibadan: Simplex Creations, 2014).
Audu, Musa D. U. NUGA: The Road to Excellence (Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press Limited, 2013).
Mason, BryanInto the Stadium: An Active Guide to Sport and Recreation Ministry in the Local Church. UK: Spring Harvest Publishing Division and Authentic Lifestyle, 2003
Oswald, RodgerStarting a Sports Ministry in the Local Church, A Manual prepared by Church Sports International, 2001.
Sports Friends International, Trainer’s Manual for Basic Training, Church-Centered Sports Ministry, Revised in January 2014.