Sports ministry is common in inner-city ministries, because it is are one of the most universal and unifying ways for complete strangers to connect. This is true for One7 too; our soccer ministry is our most powerful outreach tool to neighborhood youth. Unreached young people who would never give a typical youth minister the time of day will come to The Apartments and play pickup games with our young leaders, and even join our teams—which leads to relationships, discipleship, and life change.
What makes One7’s soccer ministry entirely uncommon, though, is our club soccer program, and the uniquely bold yet accessible way that we share the gospel with every team we play. We use athletic training and competition to teach young men and women to be leaders for Christ in all that they do, building the character, integrity, and discipline that has been missing in almost all of their lives. This comes out the moment our young leaders step onto the field with one mind and purpose–to share the love of Jesucristo with the opposing team. Oftentimes our opponents label our teams as inner-city thugs before ever meeting us, but we defy their stereotypes and the world’s expectations in our sportsmanship and honor toward them even in the fiercest moments of competition. Then, after every game, our team asks to circle up with the opposing team, and one of our young leaders shares their story, how God redeemed their life through One7, and how He wants to do the same in their lives too. No one ever expects this—especially from a group of inner-city kids—yet we have seen miracles abound as people encounter Christ for the first time in these interactions.