Christians in Sport
In 1976, the organisation Christians In Sport (CIS) was founded in an effort to unite sport and faith across the UK, and, in 1980, it officially became a charity.
Now, Christians In Sport operates all over the UK and, even abroad, through university work, summer camps for young people, and professional sports teams, including involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, this article will highlight the University of St. Andrews division of the Christians In Sport organisation.
Christians In Sport’s mission is “to reach the world of sport for Christ.”
As part of its student team, Dave Hampton has been a member of CIS for most of his life. Growing up, Hampton had a primary school teacher who was involved in Christians In Sport.
Not only was this primary school teacher a very sporty Christian,, but Hampton says, “he was also very cool, everyone loved him.,” Hampton is the liaison between Christians In Sport and St. Andrews, meeting often with the students here who are part of the organisation, like leaders Ali Greig and Laura Hampton. Christians In Sport combines two passions: sport and faith in Jesus Christ. A lot of people think these two worlds cannot coexist;, that if you are a Christian, that is one thing, and if you are an athlete, that is another.
However, Christians In Sport exemplifies that you can, in fact, be both at the same time. Not only that, but CIS shows that the Bible tells you to be both. Romans 12:1 tells Christians to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” This verse highlights that worshipping God does not only have to happen during vocal prayer on a Sunday morning in a church pew, but rather, God asks Christians to worship through their bodies as well.
Christians In Sport, therefore, attempts to spread the message of Romans 12:1, by empowering athletes of all ages and abilities to worship God through their sport, offering their bodies as a living sacrifice to God, and, in so doing, worshipping Him through their athletic pursuits.
Christians In Sport faces the challenge of reconciling the usually two separate worlds of sport and faith. There are, as with anything, stereotypes of an athlete, and stereotypes of a Christian. Most people will have read that sentence and pictured two vastly different images in their heads.
Christians In Sport attempts to change this stigma. By having a Christians In Sport group at the University of St. Andrews, CIS allows those students who love both sport and Christ to meet likeminded peers. In this way, the word spreads.
As Hampton puts it, “wanting to share Christianity with others is a bit like telling your mates about a bargain at the supermarket. Of course, you’ll want to let them know!” Every area of a person’s life can be a form of worship:, the way you work, the hobbies you have, the way you treat others. In this respect, sport is no exception. Additionally, you are using His gifts to spread the good news.
According to the Bible, God has created each of us in His image, and imparted upon us certain talents and abilities. As stated in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Christians In Sport believes in this idea, that student athletes, like those of us who are believers here at St. Andrews, should cherish our God-given athletic abilities, and use them to spread the good news — (the supermarket deal that all our friends should know about —) that God has saved our sins through His son, Jesus.
Maybe you have read this far and are thinking, “Wow, this speaks to me, I didn’t realize there was a group for Christian athletes at St. Andrews.” In that case, please reach out to me, or Ali Greig or Laura Hampton, or simply look CIS up on social media. Alternatively, you might not be a Christian, but want to learn more.
If this is the case, please also reach out. Christians In Sport is more than happy to serve as a learning opportunity for those simply curious about Christianity and how it can exist, in tandem with athletics.
Hampton’s most positive memory of the Christians In Sport group at St. Andrews is of a hockey boy nicknamed Slimy. Slimy was a St. Andrews student who was brave enough to tell his hockey teammates about his belief in, and love for Christ. Slimy hosted a dinner for his hockey team, making sure to announce it as an event focused on Christ. He was nervous, not knowing how many of the other guys would turn up.
He had prepared enough dinner, for about six people, as he didn’t anticipate a lot of his teammates coming. However, Slimy’s entire team showed up and sat in his back garden in St. Andrews to listen to him talk about his faith. Not only was Slimy courageous enough to share his faith, but he was clearly a well-respected member of the team. His teammates valued him as a hockey player, friend, and human being, so they showed up to hear his testimony.
Hampton said it was an incredible night, with boys asking questions, wanting to know more about God and why and how Slimy came to be a believer. This is a wonderful story, which shows that Christians can be athletes who are committed to their sport, their friends, and their God. Hampton points out that, “Christians don’t have to be weird, they are often so normal, and fun, and even really good hockey players like Slimy.”
That dinner was underpinned with a common love for a sport but was made special by Slimy’s ability to command the respect of his teammates so that they all showed up to support him and listen to him speak about God.
Christians In Sport wants to help people worship God through their sport. “Not because they have to, or need to, but because they get to”, says Hampton. CIS shows that there is a community of Christian athletes, in St. Andrews.
It is a wonderful opportunity to get to meet people whothat share a love for sports, and for God. Ali Greig points out, “If you look at it like a Venn diagram, you have Christians on the right, and athletes on the left, and when those circles overlap, you are likely to have a lot in common with those people who fall in the middle.”
Christians In Sport is not a church, but a community for Christians, and any people curious about Christianity, who love their sport. It is important to be visible about what you believe in, and CIS provides that opportunity for Christian athletes all over the world, but most importantly, and most relevantly to this newspaper, here in St. Andrews.