Sports ministries help meet gospel goals
Churches offer leagues, training and fun to communities
A NE W MINISTRY is teaming with Southern
Ontario churches to provide affordable
children’s sports leagues.
Onside Athletics ( www.OnsideSports.ca)
helps congregations run fall ball hockey
and summer soccer leagues and
weeklong ball hockey or soccer camps.
It began at Crestwicke Baptist Church in
Guelph, Ont., before becoming a
separate organization in 2016.
Onside Athletics has expanded across
the Greater Toronto Area and plans to
be in 15 cities in the next five years. Its
ball hockey camp was named one of the
best summer camps in the 2016 Guelph
Readers’ Choice Awards.
Onside provides uniforms, administration and team devotionals. Churches
provide space and coaches – and see
results. Churches are on the front lines
of loving God and communities, says
Bryan Gillmore, Onside’s executive
He developed the program when he
saw a need for affordable sports leagues
while working at Crestwicke. Children
often quit organized sports because
they’re not elite athletes, he says. Onside
welcomes players of all athletic abilities,
and summer camps allow churches to use
their buildings and members to provide
parents with affordable childcare.
“Sports provide a common language
that can create nonthreatening ways for
people to hear the gospel,” says Gill-
more. Coaches also explain how
children can play and live with charac-
ter, and give examples from the Gospels.
But Christian sports leagues aren’t only
for children. In Hamilton, Reach Forth
( www.ReachForth.ca) runs sports leagues
for children and adults. Adults play
soccer and slo-pitch in summer, flag
football in fall and ice hockey in winter.
Adults register as individuals or teams
allowing Christians to branch out from
church leagues, says Alex Busch, Reach
Forth’s executive director. The goal is
having spiritual conversations.
Captains give brief lessons written by
Reach Forth about subjects like forgiveness. Players receive videos that further
explore the topic. People have returned
to the Church after playing on Reach
Forth teams, says Busch. –MEAGAN GILLMORE