Creating a hobby ministry

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This post was originally created for the Christian Gamers Guild, you can find it here.

Where is the holy spirit moving in your life? In church? House groups? Your personal prayer time? I hope so, these are where you expect His presence. Bringing people together, giving them life and pointing them towards the truth of the Good News and Jesus. Now think about hobbies. They do 2 of the 3. I firmly believe that God has brought us together through our hobbies and is just waiting for the right person to come along and make the links between scripture and the task you’re all enjoying. Is that person you?

It sounds like a big ask, like it’s something that you need a theology degree and years of training to achieve. But that’s the thing, it’s actually really simple. All you need to do is build friendships with people and wear your Christianity on your sleeve. This is called building relational ministry, the teaching can come later, it is important but it’s not what’s needed to start with.

Going out into the world and meeting new people is called mission, which seems an odd word until you realise it’s what Jesus told us to do it’s literally our mission.

He said to them, “Go into all the world. Preach the good news to everyone.

Mark 16:15 NIRV

Many churches take that phrase of preach the good news to everyone and use that as the baseline to begin their mission from. How many events have you been to where the phrase ‘Can we just stop there for a second whilst we have our reading’ has been said? To some people if an event doesn’t have this then it’s not a church event. And to be fair in the past, when Christianity was l, for want of a better word, powerful in the west it did work. But it ignores how society has changed over the past years. We live in a world of fake news where people don’t trust experts or establishments any more. Instead they trust people they know, people who they respect and are friends with. Those they have an existing relationship with.

I have found that mission works best when taken as a series of steps.

To start with focus on step 1 and only move to step 2 when the attendees request it. Have a strict no preaching rule, because you are reaching people who aren’t Christians and they will not appreciate it initially. Here’s the method I follow when setting up a new ministry.

1) Research
• Begin by doing some research. Find out how many people are interested in the hobby you want to create your ministry around. This can be easy, as you probably already know many—it’s your hobby too. Doing this will make it easier to justify it to your elders/PCC/rector and to apply for any potential funding.
2) Scout
• Find any local clubs that already exist covering the same hobby so you can choose a time that doesn’t clash with them.
• Find a selection of venues you could use for it. This will allow you to figure out if you need an entry cost or not, and if necessary to run it with or without your church’s blessing. Though I would strongly advise gaining that if only for the spiritual support.
3) Plan
• How are you going to provide the hobby? For my board game nights I provide a library of games from my own collection alongside ones provided for by a grant from the Scripture Union.
• What Christian charities are out there that cater to the age range you will be targeting with the event? Contact them to see if they have any resources available for you, or if they’d be interested in giving a grant to you. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
• Decide how long your event will last for. Will it need a tuck shop for refreshments? How long does it realistically take to fully enjoy your hobby?
4) Support
• Go to your church leadership with your plan. Ask if they will support you and if you can run it as part of your church’s mission. If they don’t answer positively right away, ask them to pray for you and pray for your idea. This will enable them to reflect on it more, and you can broach the topic again in a month or so. This shows you are also working in God’s time, which is always the right thing to do. If they still refuse, and after the month of prayer you still feel it’s something God is calling you to do, then look into setting it up yourself, but still ask your church to pray for you. The spiritual support is so important!
• Build a team of like-minded Christians to help you run it. It is possible to run it solo, but ideally you want more people who can share their reasons for believing in Jesus when it comes up in conversation (and trust me; it will).
5) Advertise
• Create your advertising and put it up everywhere you can think of. Social media, posters in the local supermarket, libraries, hairdressers, churches… everywhere. Get it seen. It doesn’t need to focus on the Christian part of the event, either. You want people to come in. They’ll know it’s run by Christians when they see the church name attached to it. If you don't have your churches blessing and you aren't using their hall then don't use use your church name, instead incorporate a cross into your logo.
6) Start
• Run your event! Don’t worry if only one or two come; it will grow. Make sure the small handful enjoy it, and then the word will quickly spread.

Once your event is well established then you can start thinking about making new events that include testimonies or exploration of scripture. When you do, it is critical that you are clear in your advertisements that the events will contain that. Otherwise you risk undermining the trust you’ve built up with those who don’t feel ready for that step yet.