Hope Church in Springfield, Ill., constructed a 150-by-300-foot field on the church’s campus in 2008 as a venue to use paintball as an outreach.
Gus Martin and Todd Taylor, members of the congregation who volunteer to oversee the paintball ministry, have entrusted the operation to the youth group, and the kids have banded together to invite players, run events and build relationships.
The biweekly games cost half the price of virtually every other local paintball venue and attract those who might not excel at traditional athletics.
Martin has seen shy kids come alive and grades improve dramatically. One parent sought church elders to share her gratitude after leaders encouraged and included her son on the field.
Martin and Taylor realize their unconventional sports ministry may raise eyebrows, but that’s OK with them.
“The idea was to find a way to build real relationships and interact with people who might not otherwise come to church,” Martin says.
A version of this article originally appeared in the November/December 2009 issue of Outreach magazine.