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Finding faith in sports

Athletes seek a greater purpose through community, sportsmanship and athleticism


Travis Carey, sports director at Red Rocks Church, will tell you that athletics have greatly improved his life.

He met his wife while on a Red Rocks Church sporting team and has grown lasting friendships through various other athletic ventures. Most importantly, his Christian faith has grown through his sports participation.

“Your body is a temple; it is where the Holy Spirit is,” Carey, 32, said. “What we do with our bodies is a form of worshipping God. Sports play a huge role in that because it is maintaining the house.”

Carey is not alone in his pairing of sports and faith. Young, old, beginner and experienced athletes alike have found a deeper faith through their favorite sports, which are being used more and more by churches, school and club organizations as a medium to building a stronger spiritual life.

Here are a few examples.

Red Rocks Church, which has campuses in Littleton, Arvada, Lakewood and Evergreen, is home to a large sports ministry. The church uses its competitive and noncompetitive athletic teams to build community.

“We believe that it is a part of making the kingdom more crowded,” Carey said. “There are a lot of people who speak the universal language of sport.”

Last year, more than 3,000 people participated in the various teams. Basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, backyard games and many other sporting leagues are held throughout the year.

People may be intimidated by going to a church service, Carey said, but they feel more comfortable meeting people and learning about God through a sports team.

“Sports help to break down a lot of barriers,” he said. “When it comes to sports, people can instantly connect and build trust and credibility with each other.”

Sports ministry through school sports

Fellowship of Christian Athletes is an organization that creates a community for coaches and athletes to come together in their faith.

“Personally, as a former athlete, I found my identity in my performance on the field,” said Seth Olsen, the Denver metro south director at Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “When I came to know Jesus, I learned that it’s not about my performance, rather it’s about His performance on the cross.”

FCA is found in junior high schools, high schools and college campuses across 47 countries, according to its website. More than 12,500 certified groups are led by students and coaches involved in pairing faith with a passion for sports. Chapters are active across Colorado, including groups in Douglas, Arapahoe, Jefferson and Boulder counties.

The organization teaches athletes how to play sports and use them as a common ground to witness to other team members and even opponents, Olson said.

“Christianity is not about religion,” Olsen said. “It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I’m not pursuing Jesus as a lucky rabbit’s foot to help me play better or win the big game. I’m pursuing Jesus because of His great love for me demonstrated by dying on the cross for my sins. I’m pursuing Him because He’s the author and director of my life.”

Sports ministry through clubs

Christian Cycling is a worldwide organization that meets in smaller “spokes” in different areas around the globe.

According to Cody Newcome, head of the Colorado spoke, most of the members in Colorado, approximately 100 cyclists, live around Highlands Ranch.

It is important for members of the spoke to demonstrate good sportsmanship, Newcome said.

“We, together, can be a testimony and a light to everybody else,” Newcome said. “We want to be loving, kind and helpful to show people what we believe in through our actions.”

The cyclists do more than ride with good sportsmanship — they have a passion for volunteering. Some members volunteer to build bikes to give to underprivileged youth and others teach youth with disabilities how to ride bicycles.

“We ride for the Lord,” Newcome said. “Being able to ride and enjoy God’s creation is a huge blessing.”


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