Wouter de Vos, AIA Netherlands leader, explains the Sport Community concept.
Sport is a big deal in the Netherlands, and Athletes in Action (AIA) helps churches use athletic activities to create meaningful communities with the people around them.
Sport is an international language and unites people rgardless of language, culture or religious background. The camaraderie among teammates is strong and can make it easy to talke about more serious topics as well.
In the Netherlands, Athletes in Action helps local churches launch sport community ministry as a way of connecting with youth in their neighbourhoods. Because Dutch society has become very secularized, many churches struggle to find ways to be relevant and to connect with the people around them. Sport communities can be a platform to reach out and engage local youth in a meaningful and fun way.
Sport Communities can revive local churches!
Their efforts to build Sport Communities began a few years ago, and today they have active groups around the country. In 2015 they started 10 new groups. These groups are rooted in the local church, with local volunteers leading the way. AIA provides leadership training and various resources to use in the groups – everything from Bible study materials to group discussion topics to sport camp program ideas. Last year they trained 21 new leaders and had over 300 people participating in weekly sport activities. The best part of these communities is that many of the participants had no previous contact with the church.
AIA also hosts events to mobilize and train youth for service projects and Christian outreach. Last year nearly 600 young people attended one of these event, and 300 of them participated in specific projects. In addition, they trained over 50 leaders for the project groups.
God works powerfully in missions through disability and not in spite of it.
What is your superpower?
Empathy is about giving the gift of true, engaged listening.
During this time of global pandemic, if there is a word worthy to underline – and which brings to light thousands of people’s selfless commitment to risk their lives and serve unconditionally with their time and resources – it is the word generosity.