Competition and community play well together with Gateway Sports.
There’s something about hearing the season’s first clank of a metal bat knocking a softball deep into the outfield. It’s the unofficial sound of summer, and it’s one of the many sounds of community here at Gateway. With more than 500 men and women involved in our softball leagues, we have enough players to fill the rosters of the entire MLB American League. That’s not to mention the players involved in other sports here at Gateway. In all, we have nearly 1,700 athletes of all athletic abilities, both male and female, ages 16 and up.
Gateway Sports has become a great opportunity to reach people who wouldn’t normally walk into a church service. “We care so much about sports because people care about sports,” says James Lee, the men’s associate pastor who helps oversee sports at Gateway. “It’s one of the easiest entry points to our church. Some people may not want to attend church service or a small group, but they’ll run onto a softball field.”
However, Pastor James is quick to tell you that just because it’s church sports doesn’t mean the competition is weak. “Our goal is not to lower the competition level,” says James. “We want to raise the community level.”
One of the ways the softball teams maintain their level of competition is by joining with city leagues rather than forming their own campus-specific leagues. Other than the Grand Prairie Campus, which has its own league, all Gateway campuses follow this format. Not only does it create more opportunities for outreach, but it keeps the players sharp.
Gateway’s golf leagues are all campus-specific, and there’s an added element of fun. In the summer, each campus facilitates its own six-week league, and at the end there is an all-church tournament to determine Gateway’s top golfers. The competition is tough, but everyone has fun together.
The newest addition to Gateway Sports—flag football—is already gaining popularity. In the spring of 2014, 11 teams comprised of 137 players made a huge impact in Southlake’s co-ed flag football league. In fact, the city didn’t have a league until Gateway created the demand for it. When Gateway Sports asked to use the city’s facilities for games, the city offered to start and operate a flag football league. Now, there are 20 teams with 250 players—70% of whom have become connected with Gateway outside of our sports program.
Seeing people get connected to God is the main goal of Gateway Sports, and they are working hard to come up with more opportunities for athletes at Gateway. For example, later this year they will launch a basketball league and relaunch Gateway Outdoor Adventures, which will include river rafting, rock climbing, hiking, and more. But as the sports community expands, the main goal has always stayed the same. “We’re not a sports ministry—we’re a sports community,” says James. “For us, getting people connected to God through a Gateway Group or some other way is a touchdown.”
For more information on Gateway Sports spring and summer registration dates, visit sports.gatewaypeople.com.