The Pasco (Wash.) Ephesus Church is proactive about including millennials in their church life. Members observed that many milliennials were sporadically attending church and noticed that a majority of them liked sports. So members began organizing a church basketball team and arranged for them to play in a yearly tournament. This fall is the third year they have continued this tradition, and they are finding this event engages the whole church.
“It wasn’t just about the exciting experience of being part of an event, but more about how it reached out to me on a spiritual level with God,” says Diana Castro, Pasco Ephesus Church member, speaking about the church's fall basketball tournament.
Castro finds the event allows her to connect with the church and “find my way back to the path some tend to go astray from. It helped me by giving me that small push I needed to feel that fire for God.” The church was excited that this event not only integrates the millennials back into church life, but it also creates a positive atmosphere for the church. Everyone from grandmothers and young children play a role. The majority of the staff for the event is made up of church members. It also connects them to community members as a team comprised of individuals not affiliated with any church participated and several local businesses invested in the tournament.
This year the fall classic basketball tournament brought more than 100 individuals to their worship service, and the event on Saturday night had close to 550 people in attendance. It was hosted by Terrance Taylor, Pasco Ephesus Church pastor, and Stephaine Courtney, with eight teams participating.
More than the game itself the event allowed Castro to introduce the wonderful love of God to a close friend who, she says, “had never known what it was to have faith or hope in someone so amazing.” Castro asks, “What better way to be able to reach out as disciples to those around us and show our God’s power and love?”
The winning team was from Walla Walla University. One of the players, Tehran Richardson, also part of the preparation team for the tournament, enjoyed working with Joed Ngaruiya and the committee to advertise the event. He says, "To invite the world to see Jesus showcase His love and affection through us … is exactly what we did. People might say ‘well, it’s just basketball and basketball is for entertainment,’ and that’s exactly why we do it.” Richardson hopes those who came will continue to come to church and become on fire for God.