Sports Ministry Training at Ridley Hall
In September, Ridley Hall welcomed its first cohort of students training specifically for sports ministry. Based in Cambridge, Ridley Hall is a theological college with a long history of students engaging with sports ministry, whether as ordinands training to be vicars in the Church of England, or as youth ministers training within a range of denominations and church traditions. Sports ministry is also prominent within the open evangelical approach that marks the college’s life and teaching.
The recent development of training specifically for sports ministry is part of a national initiative to promote sport and well-being as an effective vehicle for evangelism and ministry across the UK and beyond, and recognises Ridley Hall’s work in developing training for a variety of ‘lay’ ministries including children’s & family, youth and pioneer ministry.
Students undertaking sports ministry training at Ridley Hall study for a degree in Theology, Ministry and Mission, which is delivered over six teaching weeks across the year. The remainder of the students’ time is spent within a relevant ministry context. This could be in a church with an established sports ministry project, or a sports ministry charity or organisation such as Gloucestershire’s PSALMS (Putting Sport Alongside Local Ministries).
Studying through teaching weeks not only provides students with the space and time to incorporate their learning within actual sports practice, but also ensures that teaching is spread out in manageable portions across the year. Many students comment on how the teaching weeks help to focus their studies as well as providing a sense of spiritual retreat within busy lives.
The course is designed to encourage a theologically rich practice that is purposeful, prophetic and sustainable for the long term. Students take modules in a range of theological and ministerial subjects such as New Testament, Old Testament, Doctrine, Mission, Pastoral Care, and Christian leadership, which they are encouraged at numerous points, to bring into creative conversation with the sports ministry practice they undertake in their placement.
Many of the modules are taught in mixed classrooms alongside those studying for different ministries. Other modules are specific to sports ministry students and taught by expert educators and practitioners from the world of sports ministry. This combination allows for a rich cross-pollination of ideas and approaches while also providing students with the opportunity to explore more deeply those issues and concerns that are especially relevant to sports ministry.
At the heart of Ridley’s approach is the view that all those training for ministry need to engage in the same foundational training – everyone needs to engage deeply with the Bible and apply themselves to mission, discipleship, and to modelling Christ in all aspects of their practise – irrespective of the ministry they are training for. It is the synergistic effect of a student’s engagement in all aspects of their training – study, placement, worship, reflection, prayer – that facilitates their development as a sports ministers and best prepares them to become leaders in sports ministry.
Students applying for the course come from a range of academic backgrounds and theological traditions. Students with a first degree value the theological application of the course, while those with a non-traditional academic history can take advantage of the different access routes onto the degree, which includes the opportunity to undertake a Taster module.
Robin Barden, Director of New Opportunities, Ridley Hall. More information can be found on their website or by emailing him directly.