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Posted: September 10, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Christian kick-start

By Chris Queen /

Goalies and gospels: Jason Williams, Pastor of Recreation and Children's Ministries at Solid Rock Baptist Church stands in front of church's sports facility, which includes a field house and concession stand.

Parents who want their children to play soccer in a Christian environment can sign them up in the fall soccer program offered by the Christian Youth Sports Association in Covington.

Solid Rock Baptist Church is enrolling children ages 4-12 into the program until Sept. 17.

The church began an introductory soccer program with Upward Soccer in 2008 as an outreach to the community, but Jason Williams, pastor of the Recreation and Children’s Ministry, discovered the church could offer its own program more cost effectively. The church has been building soccer fields for nearly a decade.

The mission of Solid Rock’s sports ministry is to "build families on a firm foundation through sports." The concept of the league revolves around the idea that every player is a winner, but they also teach sportsmanship principles. The games are less competitive than other recreation leagues, especially for first-time players. The intent of the league is to teach children to play soccer, have fun, and learn about the Gospel in a safe, Christian environment.

"We want the children to understand that, even though they’re playing in a Christian soccer league, there are ups and downs in life, and you deal with those," said Williams. "We work hard to build a nice atmosphere of sportsmanship where everybody is having a good time."

The co-ed teams play a small-sided, modified version of soccer, and most teams play a four-on-four format, using a smaller field and goals. This format, which has also been approved by Georgia Youth Soccer Association and the Academy Sports program, allows for maximum playing time for all the children while teaching them the basic concepts of the game. There are no specific fitness goals, but children are encouraged to attend all practices and play in each game.

"If kids don’t enjoy the sport as a child, they won’t play or enjoy it as they get older, and their health is diminished as a result of that," said Williams.

Solid Rock ties Biblical lessons in with the sportsmanship and athletic education. Each child is given Scripture verses to memorize, and each memory verse is assigned a point value. The team with the most points at the end of the season will earn a treat. The teams have devotions during practice, and there is a large-group devotion at halftime during each game.

"We keep the devotional content simple, and we don’t overcomplicate it for the kids," said Williams.

The ministry relies on volunteers, some of whom take part in field maintenance and operating the concession stand at all games. There is also a volunteer group that prays for the players, coaches and officials throughout the season.

Solid Rock will also play host to basketball this winter and softball in spring. They offered a flag football league in the past and hope to have another season soon.

Local Christian schools, including Covington Academy, Woodlee’s Christian Academy, Peachtree Academy, and the Eastminster School, play soccer at Solid Rock throughout the week, and the schools will have softball, basketball, and flag football seasons as well.

"The body of Christ is not tailored to one specific church," said Williams. "It’s about more than just Solid Rock Baptist Church. We love to see people come and be involved in the community."

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