Welcome to this latest Ask CIS – the series where you the listener, involved in competitive and elite sport can get in touch with a question around what it means to be involved in sport, what it means to connect your sport and faith.
Click here to listen to this episode of AskCIS.
This week’s question comes from someone moving to a new club – they ask:
Dear Christians in Sport,
I’m moving to a new city and I’m about to join a new rugby club – the first time I’ll have been in a new club for a long time.
I love playing my rugby and meeting people around the club. I hope and pray to be able to share my faith with my new teammates but am a bit nervous as I join.
Do you have any advice for how I can start well in my new club?
This is a great question! Moving clubs or joining a sports team for the first time can be a daunting prospect. Whether you have a long history in your sport or you’re joining a competitive club for the first time, you rarely get the opportunity to make a fresh start.
The patterns you set now will become habit quickly, so let’s think through four things that you could do to start as you mean to continue.
Starting a new club means starting new relationships with people. Why not take the opportunity to start with your Christian faith front and centre of who you are? Find a way to normally and authentically tell people something of Jesus early on in your conversations as you start to get to know your new teammates rather than hiding it away.
It’s tricky to form good friendships straight away when you join a new club, you might be tempted to try and prove yourself first in training, or to suss out your new teammates before you decide who to talk to.
Similarly, you might not find a new club to be the friendliest environment, others might not talk to you unless they think you’re top quality – or they might be afraid you’ll take their place in the side!
This can be difficult to negotiate, but why not approach it on the front foot, show interest in others and try to get to know them from the start, try asking people about their lives outside of sport, and share a bit of your own – show them that you’re genuinely interested in who they are as people.
This follows on from the previous point, you won’t get to know people quickly without setting aside time to do so.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV) says:
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
How could you follow Paul's example at your club? It might involve carving out time to get involved in the social side of the club as early as you can, even if you feel like it could be hard not knowing people.
As well as getting along to the first social of the season, why not invite some teammates round to your place for a meal or a drink? Could you spend time chatting after training rather than shooting off straight away?
Joining a new club does mean putting yourself in a vulnerable position, there will always be an element of apprehension as you try to make a good impression as ‘the new guy or girl.’ The temptation is to forge your own identity, to want people to know you for your ability on the pitch, or your good banter.
Battle this temptation as you join a new club, remember that you have an identity already that is far greater than one you can conjure up for yourself. The Bible tells us we are made in God’s image, so that as we use the gifts we have for his glory we can ‘image’ him. Hold tight to that safe identity, remember the words of 1 Peter 2:9 which show you belong to God, chosen by Him to declare His praises.
Do speak to your church leaders and friends, ask them to pray for you as you head out into this new club. Go well!
Do you have any questions about sport and faith?
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