National Sport and Wellbeing project

Sport and wellbeing is vital for the Church of England’s mission strategy to be a church for ‘for all people in all places’.
group of young teenagers playing football outside

 

It gives us the opportunity to connect with nearly 50% of England’s population, the vast majority of whom are not in church regularly. This has a huge mission potential which necessitates a coherent and strategic approach in the Church of England at both national and diocesan level if we are to find the sweet spot of all this could contribute to a growing and outward-facing church.

The project also encourages Christians to reflect on their own participation in Sport and their own wellbeing as part of their Everyday faith. Seeking to make deeper connections between these aspects of life and becoming more confident in sharing their story of faith with the people they run, walk, swim and exercise with.

Sport England in June 2017 reported that 16 million adults in the UK are playing sport weekly in comparison to under 1 million attending Anglican churches weekly. Latest figures from their 2018/19 Active Lives Adult Survey show 28.6 million people – 63.3% of the 16+ population in England – are active.

That means they meet the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines and do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. 

A children's group singing in a church.

The people who are regularly active are also the groups which the Church, in general, has missionally struggled to connect with.

  • 37.5% of the BAME community are playing sport weekly
  • 55% of 16-25-year olds play weekly
  • 1.6m disabled people play sport weekly
  • 88% of children aged 5-15 play sport regularly

(Sport England)

The National Sport and Wellbeing Project is working with 7 pilot dioceses (Birmingham, Blackburn, Gloucester, Guildford, Norwich, London – Kensington Area and Rochester). The dioceses will experiment and we will learn together. A Learning Community has been established enabling learning to be shared and to contribute to creating new models of engagement that others can replicate, as well as boasting sports ministry training pathways and building new partnerships.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to initially catalyse and develop this ground-breaking project to facilitate the best possible opportunities for sport and wellbeing to become a key component of diocesan plans for mission, evangelism and church planting, and encouraging all members of churches to see involvement in sport and wellbeing as part of our calling to seek and serve God’s Kingdom in the whole of life’

A child dancing with a hula hoop.

 

Reverend Natalie Andrews is National Sport and Wellbeing Project Lead, in the  Evangelism and Discipleship Team and explains,

"Our vision is to:

  • Engage the church – To use sport as a conduit for evangelism and mission, connecting with nearly 50% of England’s population, the vast majority of whom are not in church regularly
  • Reach communities – To build local community that points to the invitation that Jesus offers of abundant life with Him
  • Transform the nation – To improve the health and wellbeing of our nation (body, mind, and soul) witnessing to the ​more and better life’ 

This ethos comes out of the Message translation of John 10:10: ​I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Sport and wellbeing ministries have the potential to reach many people with the good news of Jesus. In the midst of all the pain, uncertainty, and challenges many have faced, and continue to endure, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I sense a new call for the church in this area.’’

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The Archbishops' Council, Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board are the three main operating bodies of the Church of England. The other National Church Institutions can be found on our website.