"But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the CLAY, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." - Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)
CLAY (Christian League of Athletics for Youth) was founded in 2004 as the continuation of the 100+ year old Erie County Church Athletic Association.
Since then, CLAY has grown from a recreation league for local Sunday school students into one of the most robust and influential sports outreach programs in the world.
1) CLAY Builds Character
It's no secret athletic competition can build character, but it can also destroy character if it is not kept in proper perspective. "Team sports ministry" is goal-oriented and emphasizes self-discipline and individual responsibility. By focusing on the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:28), CLAY emphasizes competing for the glory of God by showing love and respect to everyone, including your competitors. The ultimate goal of all CLAY programs is to get children and youth plugged into local churches where they can continue to grow after the final whistle blows. Our curriculum system helps connect what happens on game day with what happens on Sunday.
2) CLAY Builds Community
Nothing brings communities together the way sport does. By engaging the world of sport, the local church can break down barriers, create followings and form partnerships that otherwise may not have been possible. Sport, being a universal language, transcends social barriers in a way few things can. Therefore, "team sports ministry" allows local churches to reach their communities in a whole new way. Sport inspires people and invites a following, which makes all athletes role models - no matter their age or skill level. In addition, a sports ministry program may open the doors to new partnerships with local businesses and organizations.
3) CLAY Builds Faith
The Gospel was designed to be spread by meeting people where they are. Our faith should lead us to redeem our culture rather than run from it. This is what Jesus did when He became flesh and blood - He met us on our terms. We need to teach our children and youth how to both win and lose without compromising their faith by setting the example. There are amazing parallels between physical discipline and spiritual discipline. If the local church can take on the "flesh and blood" of athletic competition through "team sports ministry," then we will be meeting our youth where they are.