Spring is in the air, and that can only mean one thing for the Rock Sports Ministry-softball season. While the big leaguers are suiting up to receive the big bucks, members of the Rock have an opportunity to suit up and play for eternal rewards.
Whether it's setting a godly example on the field, or inviting and praying for unsaved friends, America's pastime has never touched the heart of God like this before.
What could be better than playing catch in the beautiful San Diego sun?
"It's a ministry first. It's not just about sports," said Greg Giles, co-leader of the ministry along with his wife, Tiffany.
Greg and Tiffany, who both played sports in college, still remember one particularly encouraging message given by Pastor Miles a few years ago, after which they both felt called to use their previous sports experience to serve the body.
"Our palms were sweating," said Tiffany.
The couple said it was a few verses in 2 Corinthians that led them to be used by God and to build up disciples of Christ through sports.
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that is One died for all then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Now, then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Greg and Tiffany shared that the vision of the Sports Ministry is "to save those who do not know Jesus through our words and actions as ambassadors for Christ, to equip those who do know Him through the Word of God, and to send out soul winners who will use sports to share their love for Jesus Christ."
"I remember the first year we started praying at games," recalled Greg. "A young lady said that we should 'leave the praying to the church building,' and it just further convinced us that we need to get the message out and share the word of God."
From these humble beginnings, the Sports Ministry now hosts leagues for men's flag football, coed and men's softball, coed volleyball, and coed basketball. Softball participates in a league with 40 other churches, and shares the truth of God every season with more and more of those who have not yet received the saving grace that comes from Jesus Christ.
The Sports Ministry isn't just for the guys
During softball season, the Sports Ministry hosts games every Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Games are held at Valencia Park Elementary, which is located off the Imperial Avenue exit on the 805 south.
Each season consists of twelve games and playoffs. Teams are made up of thirteen to fourteen people, with ten players on the field at a time.
Getting started is simple. Just sign up after any service.
"Then we find a coach for you and put you on a team with other players of the same experience," said Greg. You can also request to be on the same team as your friends, whether they are members of the Rock or friends (saved or unsaved) from work, school, etc.
No previous talent is required. This league really is open to everyone over 18. It is not, as Tiffany stressed, "all guys," a myth she hopes to dispel by co-leading the ministry.
When you come out to a game, expect more than just a few innings of fun. You'll be given the privilege of showing others that "there's more to life than competition," Greg pointed out.
Each game starts with a devotional, which could be sharing the Word of God or a player testimony, and prayer. Greg emphasized "the biggest part of the game is the time of devotion and prayer."
What better way to get some exercise, sun, and an opportunity to meet and share the gospel with teammates?
No Benchwarmers Here
Softball season starts the third week of April.
The deadline for softball registration was April 3, but there's always another sport right around the corner. In fact, if you would like to build a team in the future, now's a good time to think and pray about it.
If you would like to coach a team, the Sports Ministry is ready to help you take that step.
"People get all excited, and they want to be a leader, or start a new sport," said Greg. "We're really looking for committed people to serve. We're here to help them and keep them accountable."
To be a coach, you must either have taken or currently be taking the Rock University 200 course, and be in a small group.
"Those who play sports or who have played sports know that intense physical competition has the tendency to bring out our flesh more quickly and ferociously than almost anything else in the world," Greg and Tiffany said in regards to coaching. "This is why this ministry has to be all about Jesus Christ, and strong leaders are needed to be examples to their teams during competition."
For those who wish to donate some of their time after services, the ministry is always looking for those who can help with sign ups. "We want people to feel like they can serve, even if they don't play sports," said Greg.
So whether you dream of trying out for the Padres or just like watching them on TV with a big bag of chips, the Sports Ministry softball season is for you.
As Greg made clear, "People getting saved. That's the goal."