Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Second Season Of Upward Basketball

Upward Basketball and Cheerleading will enter it’s second season of Ministry to Children and their Families this month.

For those who are not familiar with Upward, it is a youth sports ministry which was begun by Caz McCazlin at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, SC over 20 years ago. Upward is now in over 2,000 churches around the country. Currently Upward offers Basketball, Cheerleading, Soccer, and Flag Football as Christ based outreach ministries for local churches. Westmoreland Baptist Church has sponsored Basketball and Cheerleading and Spring Soccer, and God has blessed those ministries this past year.

Ministry success is not based on numbers, but we are thankful for the scores of children who took part in both sports programs this past year. The important statistic is that each player gets a gospel message each week. Every game begins with prayer, and every person in the gymnasium hears a testimony and a gospel presentation at half time of each game. While some participants already attend this or other churches, we have found that many of the families involved are unchurched. Our goal is to reach those families with the Gospel of Christ, and to show the love of Jesus to everyone involved. The ministry has had an impact. In fact, on October 26th we baptized three members of a family who came to us by way of Upward Basketball last year.

In Upward, every child plays, (no tryouts or cuts), every child learns, (caring Christian coaches and referees teach them the concepts of the game, teamwork and sportsmanship) and every child wins. We take boys and girls from four years old through sixth grade. While the older kids might be a little more competitive than the younger, the emphasis is not on winning. It is on doing your best. Post game awards go to the children for categories like, “Best Offense”, “Best Defense”, “Best Sportsmanship”, and “Most Christlike”. Upward is not your typical youth sports league. While sports is the vehicle, Upward is a first and foremost a ministry.

Volunteers are needed for such tasks as Prayer Team Members, evaluation and registration helpers, concessions workers, set up, post game gym cleanup, coaching, officiating, devotion and testimony, cheerleading helpers, and general encouragers. Will you pray about what God may want you to do in this growing ministry of Westmoreland Baptist Church? If you would like to volunteer, contact me at 412-0352 or Basketball Commissioner, Jim Bailey at 429-8003.

Evaluations will be held on Monday evening, November 10 from 6:30-8:00 PM, Friday, November 14, 6:30-8:00 PM and Saturday, November 15, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Practices will be one hour per week beginning on Monday January 5, 2009 and the first game of the 8 game season will be Saturday, January 24, 2005. The Award Celebration will be here at the church Monday, March 16, 2009. Please join me in praying for the success of this ministry.

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