What do I say to someone who says my child shouldn't compete on a Sunday?
What do I say to someone who says my child shouldn't compete on a Sunday?

Click here to listen to this episode of AskCIS.

The issue of Sunday sport is always a difficult and sensitive topic for parents of sporty children, with no easy answers. But a topic which is essential to address. We have written lots on it here.

Some parents have written in with this question:

Dear Christians in Sport,

How should I respond to someone at church who tells me I shouldn't let my child compete on a Sunday?

This question could come from other parents, or someone in the leadership of the church, a homegroup leader, or a friend who cares about you and your child.

The Bible does not give a specific answer to dealing with sport on a Sunday, yet it does give some principles which are helpful. Check out The Academy for more great resources exploring these principles or watch the brief video below. Today, however, we’ll think specifically about how you can answer or respond to a question like this.

Decisions need to be made

Being part of a church family and regularly sitting under God's word are essential for all people as you can read here. But when sport and church clash for your child, a tough call may need to be made.

  • If your child doesn’t turn up for training or the match, will they get dropped for future matches? Will the coach think they aren’t committed? Will they lose friendships with their teammates? Will they resent church because it’s causing them to miss sport?
  • If your child doesn’t go to church, will they lose their faith or drift from a relationship with Jesus? Will they view church as a rule rather than an opportunity to grow as part of a wider church family?

As we begin to work towards decisions it’s worth saying that exactly how to view the sabbath or holy festivals is an example of a ‘disputable matter’ which Paul talks about in Romans 14 - issues that cause Christians to take different views and have the potential to cause division or tensions.

With this in mind, I think there are a couple of things to consider as you look to respond to others in church who have a different view:

Be fully convinced

In Romans 14, Paul urges his readers to be ‘fully convinced in your own mind’. What do you have in place to help you think this issue through as a family, in order to become convinced?

It is important to know why you have made the decision you have, as well as being willing to listen, and being open to maybe even change your decision if you are convinced of a different view.

The letter of Hebrews is written to a people who were in danger of drifting from their faith in God. Chapter 10:24-25 is a call for them to hold unswervingly to the hope of the gospel.

Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

This question might come from a genuine concern and care from someone in your church.

Are you able to help them understand that sport is a wonderful gift from God and can be a way to worship Him and witness for Him? Yet you are aware that sport, and progressing in sport, requires time, commitment and sacrifice.

Do you have creative ways to help your child meet regularly with other Christians? How will they spend time not just with other young people but the wider diverse church family? How will they be taught from God’s word? What can you do as parents to disciple your child and spur and encourage them on in their faith?

Remember this isn’t to try and justify your decision to someone else – but to become fully convinced in your own mind as you pray and think and talk this through.

Be open in your approach

Have conversations:

To help become clear yourself, it is essential to have open and ongoing conversations with those around you:

  • With your church – with your pastor and/or youth worker. Tell them your concerns and decisions you need to make, help them understand why you might not be there on a particular Sunday. If they can’t practically help, at least they can pray and journey with you.
  • With the coach – does the coach know your dilemma? Do they know the necessity church is for you as a family? This is also a brilliant opportunity to witness!
  • With your child – keep your child in these conversations, help them understand why you want church to be a priority for your family whilst acknowledging sport as a wonderful, God-given, context within which to worship God and share faith. They will notice the effort you are making to prioritise church and therefore see how much value you place on their spiritual growth.

As you respond to questions from other people in church:

  • Listen to their story – keep the conversation open. If it’s another parent, they may be going through a similar process. You might both agree that church and youth group are essential, but it looks different in each of your family’s lives.
  • Learn from them – have they done something you haven’t thought about? Share your ideas, remember you’re not trying to justify yourself or win an argument.
  • Love one another – the person who asked you the question might have a genuine care and concern for your spiritual growth, and that is a wonderful thing! Keep that motivation at the centre of all your conversations so that the body of Christ might be built up.

To find out more about the support we offer for parents and guardians of young high-performance athletes click the button below


Do you have any questions about sport and faith?

Send them to us at askcis​​​​@christiansinsport.org.uk or feel free to contact us via social media

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