Near the end of high school, my home church began a kids’ basketball program at our church called Upward. I immediately got involved as an assistant coach for a team of young children. It was a great way to connect and give back in one of my hobbies — sports.

If you’re unfamiliar with Upward Sports, I urge you to check out their website at https://www.upward.org.

Since graduating high school, I had not been a part of a church with Upward. That is until I moved to my current one. And this year, we were given an opportunity to partner, and it was great.

Upward focuses on both sports and God. Coaches lead their players in devotional times at practices, prayer is included all over the place, and they even have Upward Bibles with extra elements that connect with young athletes.

Another element includes halftime talks, where someone gives a quick devotional thought or challenge to parents while the players are in the locker room, getting ready for the second half of play. This year, members of our family ministry staff were given the opportunity to speak. One week, I took all five halftimes. Another week, I took three of them while giving one of our volunteer small group leaders the ability to speak at the other two.

While we were not able to present an amazing sermon filled with word studies, Greek and Hebrew references, and an alter-call, we did make quick connections with several families. When it was my turn each time, I shared a short thought from the Bible, made it relevant to the parents in the room (even those who do not go to church), and invited them to be a part of our ministry in some way (weekly programming, camps, etc.) before letting them know they can always reach out to us with any questions.

Our team was also present in the closing ceremony at the end of the season. We didn’t have a huge part in it at all, but we were present again if anyone had questions. It was also a great chance to just be around and show our support.

This is great and all, but maybe you’re wondering why I would share this with you. Here are three take-aways:

  1. Don’t get stuck in your own ministry. Be available to help wherever is needed, and don’t box yourself into your own area and forget about other ministries. While we are specialists within our ministry areas, we should not be exclusivists within the church.
  2. Think about strategic partnerships. There are some great ways your ministry can benefit from others’ in your church. For example, you can use the amazing outreach arm of something like Upward to help you reach new families.
  3. Take opportunities to grow in your field. While I speak on a regular basis to my students, having to put together a 3-4 minute talk for churched and non-churched parents stretched me in a good way. Be aware of opportunities like this to grow in your existing skills or to learn a new one.

What are some ways you have built partnerships with other ministries in your church and/or community? What has that experience been like for you? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

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