Most people interact with sports, and from not too far a distance.  Even before pre-school, kids play sports in backyards and in organized programs designed by YMCAs, private clubs, community organizations, and even churches. Sports invade our families, televisions, social media, careers and schools. Love, hate, or try to ignore sports, we are all connected to this multibillion-dollar industry. 

Among the throngs of participants and fans are Christians who view life as a gift of God’s grace and desire to follow Jesus daily.  And between halves, periods or seasons, some of us take time out to ponder the role of sport in the Christian life. We wonder about potential benefits and pitfalls. We wonder about hearts gripped by the joys and obsessions of competition, about poor players being pushed aside, excellent performers pushed ahead, and why sports can seem both underutilized and overdone at the same time. 

To explore this intersection between sport and Christian faith, Calvin University and Hope College are jointly hosting the 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity at Calvin’s Prince Conference Center Oct. 23-27.  The first conference was in York, England in 2016, and this one is right in our backyard.   Anyone interested in sport and faith may register for this five-day conference. 

Keynote Speakers


You’ll hear from an amazing list of keynote speakers with a range of expertise and experience: 

  • Dr. Amber Warners, my colleague and friend plus three-time national champion Calvin volleyball coach, will speak on the peaks and perils of success and sport identity.  
  • Renowned Yale University theologian Miroslov Volf will use his high-powered intellect to ponder “human glory” in sport. 
  • Loretta Claiborne, Special Olympics gold medal winner and recipient of the ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, will tell her amazing life story. 

Special Keynoter – Tim Tebow

Oh yeah, and Tim Tebow is coming to Grand Rapids to speak at Calvin’s Van Noord Arena!  

It is hard to think of a modern U.S. athlete more known for his public Christian faith than Tim Tebow. Tebow played college football for the University of Florida where his team won two national championships, and he was awarded the prestigious Heisman Trophy in 2007. On the field, Tebow regularly pointed skyward after a successful play. His one-knee prayer pose is now known as “Tebowing.” 

Tim is a hero to some, criticized by others – yet through it all, he has remained consistent to his convictions and unrelenting ability to push through adversity.  Tim Tebow will remind us of the power of sport and encourage all who listen to achieve more than they thought possible. While Tim speaks from a Christian platform, his message is inspirational at a much broader level.

Even If you can’t make it to the whole congress, you can hear Tim Tebow present “Find Your Purpose” Thursday, Oct. 24, 12 to 1 p.m. at Van Noord Arena’s main gym. Tickets are only $15 for the general public. For student group tickets, contact me.

In addition to co-hosts Calvin University and Hope College, thanks to our event sponsors who made this Congress happen – the West Michigan Sports Commission, Calvin Theological Seminary, Western Theological Seminary and Our Daily Bread Ministries.

Brian Bolt
Guest Blogger
A professor and dean of education plus head men’s golf coach at Calvin University, Brian is co-director of the Congress.

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