What if I told you that organizing a Fantasy Football League at your church was a great way to promote inclusion at your church? I am sure that there are immediate obstacles that are coming to mind for you.
You don’t know the first thing about Fantasy Sports. No problem! You don’t have a Sports Ministry at your church that you can hand this idea off to? No problem! You don’t have a Disability Ministry at your church? No problem! You don’t have a single dollar in your budget? No problem! None of these things are obstacles for you providing “unique out of the box” opportunities for inclusion at your church.
Fantasy Sports leagues are a great opportunity for inclusion because literally anyone can get involved. It does not matter if you are a guy or a girl. It does not matter if you are young or old. It does not matter if you are able-bodied or disabled. It does not matter if you are neurotypical or intellectually and developmentally disabled. It does not even matter if you like sports or even know anything about sports for that matter, just set your team to auto-draft and let the computer do the work for you!
Fantasy Sports Leagues can bridge all the gaps and silos that exist in your church.
When people gather around a common interest, like sports, barriers are torn down.
Many people shy away from involvement in Disability Ministry because of irrational fears or assumptions that just are not true. Give them a non-threatening event opportunity and soon people will see that they are more alike than different. The Fantasy Sports opportunity gives them a talking point and an opportunity to break the ice.
So how can this work?
We will take Fantasy Football for example, but this could work with any Fantasy Sports League.
- Pick a FREE platform to play on like ESPN or YAHOO.
- Encourage church staff members to get involved. If you can rope in your Senior Pastor, it would be a big win!
- Advertise to your congregation that it is an opportunity for ALL people.
- Come up with a fun prize (non-monetary).
- Intentionally divide people up into leagues with people they are not familiar with to promote new friends and inclusive opportunities. The last thing you want to do when aiming for inclusion is to put all the people from your Disability Ministry in one group. That would defeat the purpose. Make sure every league has a leader. The leader of the league makes weekly contacts with everyone. Share encouragement mixed with some fun trash talk of course.
- Host a live draft night party. Fantasy Sports are virtual experiences and true inclusion and belonging will not happen unless you work in some live events.
- Share weekly devotionals online (see resources below).
- Have weekly opponents share prayer requests and pray for each other.
- Host a Monday Night Football party during the season once again to draw people together.
- Host a Super Bowl Party. Award the grand prize and any other fun or gag prizes at the Super Bowl party.
As you can see there is great potential for inclusive opportunities and for new friendships to be formed in your church. Without gathering around a shared interest or opportunity many of these people in your church would never bump into each other.
Being intentional about adding elements of devotions, prayer, and encouragement is what will make all the difference. That will take this fellowship-type event and make it into a discipleship opportunity.
If Fantasy Sports isn’t your thing find something else in your congregation that would bring people together and be intentional with it. Sometimes getting outside the box is the only way to bring people together inside the box.