PSALMS stands for Painswick and Stroud Area Local Ministries, but might now be better named “Putting Sport alongside Local Ministries”. It grew out of Mission Action Planning within the Diocese of Gloucester specifically to address the need for our churches to reach out to children and young people. It aims to model Fresh Expressions of church with a strong emphasis on Sports Ministry. PSALMS is a Registered Charity and a Limited Company and is closely aligned to both Christians in Sport and Scripture Union. PSALMS is cross-denominational, currently working in partnership with most mainstream denominations.
Every Sunday morning, whilst there are few young people in our churches, there are hundreds of young people just down the road in our local rugby and football clubs. Their parents are there too. This pattern is repeated at the junior cricket and tennis clubs across the county. Such places are where we can build relationships with young families. By participating in these activities, we have the opportunity to invite young people to our Christian-focused youth clubs. In Painswick, for instance, we currently get about 30 youngsters each week attending our Pulsar club (youth club). Nine of the Year 10s are currently signed up for a 12-month Christian Leadership Academy, involving regular evenings of leadership training, Christian teaching, an adult mentor for each member, residentials, etc. PSALMS also currently partners with churches across this part of the country.
PSALMS’ primary object over its 11 years’ lifetime has been to develop models of Sports Ministry as a means of reaching out to young people particularly in the Stroud area and to introduce them to the Christian faith. PSALMS is now seeking to become a Hub of excellence for Sports Ministry in partnership with the Diocese of Gloucester and Scripture Union, by building upon the experience of the past 11 years and by acting as a resource for church leaders across the county (initially) to enable them to reach out to their communities (and particularly the young) in a relevant way. These models will then be shared with other parts of the country.
The church nationally is urgently seeking ways to connect with young people and their communities in culturally relevant ways. PSALMS and Scripture Union believe that Sports Ministry (SM) provides probably the greatest opportunity for churches do this and have successfully demonstrated this in the Stroud area. Arising from research carried out in 2014 on behalf of Scripture Union, there is an opportunity for PSALMS to become a Hub of Excellence in this county and to help lead the way in the Diocese of Gloucester. To create the capacity for this step, PSALMS has appointed a new Director of Sports Ministry starting in January 2017 and funded jointly by PSALMS, Scripture Union and the Diocese, and a 3-way partnership agreement is in place. To ensure that the current opportunity and interest is fully grasped, a further Strategic Sports Minister and one-year Trainee Sports Minsters are planned in order to feed future demand in the county.
We long to see such interactions happening elsewhere and strongly believe that the key is in partnering with local churches. There are, in our county, a number of other excellent examples of Sports Ministry and it is planned that these will all form part of the wider strategy but we believe the key will be in motivating and empowering local churches to realize that they, too, can be involved and use sport to connect with their communities, regardless of the average age of their members.
Please see http://psalms.uk.net/ for more news and information.