Basketball Camp Creates Evangelism Opportunities

Sometimes sharing the gospel comes from the most unlikely encounters. When First Baptist Church of Sudbury, Massachusetts started a basketball camp in the summer of 2017, they never thought it would extend past a year. Initially planned as a summer youth outreach initiative, the camp has been a dazzling success far exceeding the congregation’s wildest expectations.

Normally, the church would host a one week “Vacation Bible Adventure” for about 100 kids each summer. However, after speaking with parents in the community, the congregation soon discovered what the parents really wanted was not a one week get-a-way but a program of summer activities for their children.

According to lead Pastor Jay Ridenour, because the community really values sports, hosting a sports camp “just made sense.”

“It broadened our opportunity to tell different people about Jesus,” he said.

Purchasing six basketball hoops to place in its parking lot, the church held several two week-long basketball camps, for elementary and middle aged children. The camp held daily on weekdays lasted three hours and consisted of drills, scrimmages, and free play.

The children loved it.

Pastor Ridenour said, “There are countless families and kids that are doing nothing, and we’ve had a big group of boys that would never come to a Vacation Bible Adventure, but came to play basketball at camp.”

Additionally, Ridenour, who also serves on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, has been advocating for his colleagues to move beyond traditional one-week programs arguing instead for congregations to adopt a camp style approach that lasts closer to a month.

Many times churches tend to slow down during the summer months as parishioners take vacations and giving declines. However, Ridenour argues that churches shouldn’t view summers as a time off.

“I don’t think there’s time to slow down,” Ridenour said. “We can slow down in heaven. Not that I don’t rest or have vacations, I’m simply saying to think we’re going to take two-and-half or three months off from ministry is pretty silly according to what the Gospel has to offer people.”

Despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench in the congregation’s 2020 plans, this past summer Ridenour noted the camp was back to being packed – a testament he credits to a need still needing to be met in far too many communities that his church is committed to meeting.

Source: Baptist Press