In 2012 we at Westview Baptist Church wanted to try something new, something that would allow us to reach out to the families in our community in a friendly and welcoming way and to meet some community needs at the same time. Our church has a big grassy area that could be used, I knew that lower cost sports could be beneficial and I had a few passionate volunteers who were skilled in soccer coaching. As a result we launched High Power Soccer, a program from Awana where on Saturday mornings, children are given the opportunity to build their soccer skills in a positive Christian environment.
Families are introduced to the Christian community in a friendly way and invite families to know more about Christianity and faith through weekly conversations, through a devotional each child receives, and through inviting families to join us at some of our other ministries. We made some valuable connections and as the soccer drew to a close many families rejoined us for our Vacation Bible Camp, our midweek program and on Sunday mornings.
Honestly, although I was excited about the potential of this program, I did not expect the outcomes we saw. During our first year 70% of the children were not a part of our church or its programs. It was a strange but good feeling walking out to meet all these parents that I did not know. It was strange because I usually know most of the families who attend our ministries and this was the first time I knew so few families. It was great to know that the soccer program actually brought our community together. This year there are still a large number of new families, 65%, which is a bit lower, but I think that it reflects the fact that some families are becoming a part of our church community.
One particular family that I had never met before saw the sign advertising our soccer program and signed up her daughter, letting me know how shy she was. The first two weeks she would not play, but during those weeks some other girls played with her to the side and a few Christian families began talking to the mother, getting to know more about her. By the third week, this little girl ran on the field and was right in there with everyone else. It has been so nice to see her become more comfortable and I look forward to seeing what else God might have planned for this family and the many others we have the opportunity to meet through this valuable ministry.
I have been very happy to see the growth in this program where this year we have over 60 children joining us each week developing their soccer skills. We hope that we will continue to grow as we are currently proposing to connect with neighbouring churches to see if we can expand into our community even more. Please pray that we might be able to continue to reach more families through this program in the Westmount community in London, Ontario.
Photo Credit: Lisa Vandenheuvel
Tina Rae serves as the Christian Education Specialist at Westview Baptist Church in London, Ontario.