The great innovative puppeteer Jim Henson said, “Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
For the last month, we have been investing in nearly 70 children and their parents through a one-hour Soccer Academy.
While the Academy schedule was postponed due to the Coronavirus, this has been a fun and creative space to show our community who we are.
From an outsider’s perspective, it might not make sense. Why should the church offer a soccer league when there is BREC or the YMCA? What does this have to do with leading people to Jesus? Are these people going to end up coming to our church anyway? And these, along with many others, are all valid questions.
You have heard me use the phrase “incarnational ministry.” It merely means that we are called to be the physical presence of Jesus to our neighbors. In the same way that Jesus traveled from town to town, entered into people’s homes, ate meals with others, hung out by the water well, and exchanged conversations in the marketplace, we too are called to be his presence in our community.
The Soccer Academy is one way for us to be the incarnational presence of Jesus to our community.
As Jesus met the physical, relational, and spiritual needs of first-century Palestine, so too, we are seeking to meet the needs of our community. People are looking for a fun, safe, inclusive, and inexpensive experience for their children to learn the game of soccer, sportsmanship, and interaction with others. Parents are looking for a safe and inclusive place to meet other people in similar life experiences.
The great priest and author Henri Nouwen beautifully put it best when he wrote:
More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence.
I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.
For the nearly 30 volunteers it has taken to make this Academy a reality, and to the UBC parents who have invested their Saturdays in this experience, I give thanks for your work in being Jesus’ presence.