Disciples danced, sprinted and pedaled their way through a series of fun-filled competitions as part of the 2009 Spirit Games, held at General Assembly to raise awareness and funds for New Church Ministry (NCM) projects in the U.S. and Canada.
Nearly 150 competitors stayed in motion earning points by dancing to Wii games. They clipped on free pedometers provided by NCM that tracked attendees’ steps throughout the Assembly. And, on Friday morning, July 31, under bright, clear skies, scores of Disciples in bright yellow t-shirts stepped into pedal boats for the Spirit Splash race on the Indianapolis Canal.
"My legs will definitely feel this later," said Betty Brewer-Calvert, director of Women Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia, who competed with her son, Henry, in the pedal boat race. "It was pretty challenging because my son is much taller than I am," she added.
Spirit Games winners were determined by the total points accumulated from playing Wii, participating in Spirit Splash and tracking steps with their pedometers. For a list of the winners, go to www.newchurchministry.org.
The games were designed as a creative way to heighten awareness at General Assembly of NCM’s mission and priority within the whole Church. As a result of this movement and with the encouragement and guidance of the NCM team, Disciples have started 616 new churches since 2001. The new church plants are tied to the Church’s goal of starting 1,000 new churches by the year 2020.
"As part of the Church’s 2020 vision process, it was decided that we would start 1,000 new churches by the end of the next decade," noted Church Extension President Jim Powell. "The ultimate goal of the 2020 vision is to help our churches look like the changing face of the U.S. and Canada. In the year 2000, about 95 percent of our denomination was white. Today, many new churches serve Haitians, Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans. As we progress toward our goal, we are better reflecting the broader community."
New Church Ministry works in conjunction with Church Extension to carry out its work.
Registration monies and sponsorships provided for Spirit Games will help support New Church Ministry training, coaching and support for new church planters and congregations, noted Katie Marlowe, assistant vice president of marketing and communication for Church Extension.
Spirit Games sponsors stressed that even after the games end, established churches can support up-and-coming churches by participating in the Adopt-a-Congregation program.
"Adopting a congregation can mean a number of things, including canvassing and passing out brochures, praying for the new church plants and attending a new church’s first worship service," said Powell. "It means a lot to a new church to have the support of an established church."
John May of First Christian Church in Wilmington, N.C. was one of many who participated in all three aspects of Spirit Games. His team, Three Plus One, included his wife and two others. That team carried home the silver medal in the Team of 4 category, and John won one of three Wii game systems given away at the end of the competition.
"Everything connected with Spirit Games was fun and a way to support new churches," stated May. "We believe in helping to spread the good news of Jesus Christ so that others can share in the fellowship and love that comes from Disciples Christian brothers and sisters. We think new churches are a great way to do that."