An athletics program is a great way to get people involved in your church. Consider starting a sports league if your community lacks opportunities for area kids to try new hobbies or pursue their dreams.
There’s a lot to think about when planning one of these programs. Here are seven points to consider.
1. Recruit Volunteers/Staff
You can’t develop an athletics program alone. You need coaches, assistants, an accountant, managers, security, and people to run ticket sales and concession stands.
Survey your congregation to see who is interested in supporting and participating in the program. Depending on how many teams you have, you could need a few or dozens of people to keep the program running.
Participation is a great volunteer opportunity, but if you have someone working on the right program multiple times a week, it’s fair to pay them as staff.
2. Hold a Meeting
You must let parents and guardians know about the program if you want kids to get involved. It may sound like a no-brainer, but a few announcements during services aren’t necessarily going to get adults to bring their children to the program.
Hold an informational meeting over pizza or offer to meet with interested children and parents after church one Sunday. Once you thoroughly explain the teams, coaches, schedule and costs, adults are more likely to let their kids start their sports careers in a place they’re familiar with.
3. Build a Facility
If you don’t have a large gym or athletic facility on your church’s property, you should consider building one for your athletic programs.
A recreational center is costly, with millions of dollars at stake. You can recoup those costs through user fees and ticket and concession sales if you have a large community.
At a minimum, the center should accommodate whatever sports you intend to include in your program. You’ll also need spectator stands, an automated external defibrillator (AED), restrooms and an entryway.
Speak to your church money managers to determine the best way to afford the facility while continuing your ministry.
4. Create a Travel Team
Once you create teams, you’ll need to find competitors. If you have a large enough congregation, you could play against each other, but not many church leagues can exist within themselves.
Engage in some friendly competition by joining up with other church and community sports leagues. You can use a van or rent buses to transport teams and all their necessary equipment across the state or country.
Travel has a broad spectrum of advantages, which include:
- Increased bonds
- Reduced stress
- Character growth
5. Advertise on Multiple Platforms
Just because the program is from your church doesn’t mean kids outside the congregation can’t play. Having an athletics problem is a fantastic way to introduce the community to your church and engage in outreach.
Display flyers on community boards, ask the news to run a story and utilize social media platforms to reach people you might not otherwise. Recruit a media-savvy person to provide league updates, game schedules and volunteer opportunities.
Proper publicity gives you the highest chance of having a successful program. Don’t forget the power of word-of-mouth. Ask your congregation to tell anyone who may want to get involved.
6. Give Back During Events
One of the hardest things for church programs to navigate is the exorbitant costs they have to pay to provide opportunities on par with other programs. You might need to take from the church budget and fundraise like crazy to make your athletics program happen.
All the funds can be more than worth it, but it’s also important to remind the community how much they mean to you. Giving gifts to visitors during a grand opening or special event is a great way to show appreciation to everyone who helped make the program a success.
You can also share the love by holding fundraisers for important causes during games, setting up food or clothing drives, and donating to worthy causes worldwide.
7. Keep God In It
It’s easy to get so enthralled in a new facility, shiny equipment and competitive kids that you forget what your church stands for. Keep God in your sports leagues by holding regular prayers among your teams, checking in with families about their feelings or needs, not scheduling games during holidays or Sunday service times, and showing love to the competition.
Sports are a great way to get kids moving, teach teamwork and have fun as a community. However, when players or fans get passionate, there can be less-than-holy behaviors. Remind everyone to love their neighbor and have fun before getting frustrated or competitive.
Starting an Athletics Program at Your Church
Beginning an athletic program at your church is a large endeavor, but the fun and fellowship can make it more than worth it. You can improve your church and community by thinking things through, marketing correctly and keeping your hearts and minds on God.