To watch a talk on this topic head to the bottom of this study.
Most of us find it easy to initiate a conversation about sport, but the prospect of speaking to a sports friend about Jesus can be daunting, whether we’ve been at the club for years or a new member. What will people think? What if I mess up? What if they ask a question I can’t answer? What if I forget to mention Jesus?! In all this, it is not our eloquence that brings people to Jesus.
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
Paul’s mission when he went to Corinth wasn’t to preach the gospel in the language of a great speaker using special techniques. Rather to explain simply God’s message and allow its power, and the power of the Holy Spirit, to work.
When we think about initiating conversations with sportspeople about Jesus, vulnerability and weakness are to be expected...even Paul felt it! He felt weak and afraid and inadequate; yet he persevered and relied on God’s power, not his own strength. Let’s commit to doing the same!
(In some contexts using the framework Your News, My News, Good News could work better.)
If in a group, explain this simple technique and get them to practise it in pairs.
YOUR STORY - Begin by asking a simple question - e.g. What was the highlight of your weekend?
MY STORY - When asked the same question back, think through how you can respond in a way that brings your faith in naturally - e.g. “I had a great weekend and loved the game on Saturday (MY STORY) but my highlight was probably on Sunday when I was really struck by what I heard at church about God’s purpose for my life (HIS STORY).”
This response isn’t too front-footed so as to feel clunky and it provides an open door for questions about God’s purpose (so be prepared with an answer!) Wait for their response - they may ignore you and move on; if this is the case, don’t force it. Keep praying and keep pointing them to Jesus.
Pray for each other: for the courage to initiate a conversation in the next week with a sportsperson. It is often easier for those who are new to their clubs (like Freshers) to initiate conversations as they have the freedom of anonymity; often the longer we have been in a club, the more concerned we become about what others think of us and the less we seem to speak about Jesus Christ. Take the initiative this week to use the simple technique above remembering what we learnt from Paul in 1 Corinthians 2.
Plan who is going to hold you accountable for doing this.
Whilst sport remains affected by social distancing rules, think creatively about how you could still try and meet with sports friends and look to proactively initiate a conversation about your faith.
All Bible quotations are taken with permission from the NIV:
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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