Of Basketballs, Eggs, and Men: How Fellow Basketball Players Joined a Pastor for an Easter Service in the Gym
May 17, 2021, 11:00 AM

Relationships that are built over time can lead to something special because the trust has been built. That is what Pastor Tim Dreier of Our Savior Lutheran Church Tulsa found out when he invited the guys he plays basketball with if they would consider coming to an Easter service in the gym where they play. His question to them: Would they like to bring their families to the gym to celebrate and hear the Easter story? Pastor Tim added that he would even include an Easter egg hunt for their children, complete with the story of how colored eggs became part of the Christian celebration of Easter. And what a beautiful response he got!  A total of 37 people, the players, their wives, and their children showed up for Easter service in the gym!

It was a nice beginning to a faith-growing adventure with a group of recreational friends some of whom had little church background, and even less Bible knowledge. Tim found the latter out as, over time, he began to include a prayer during game breaks, and later began to throw in some Bible trivia, such as, “How many days did it take God to create the world?” OR “How many people got on board Noah’s Ark?” (After all, he was the only pastor among the players). Their inability to answer his trivia questions convinced Pastor Time that these guys had limited Bible knowledge. But he knew that didn’t mean they weren’t open to spiritual things. That was 2020, early on in the pandemic, which itself aided his getting to know some guys even better. COVID brought about a commitment for some players to show up. So they moved from playing one night a week to two. Pastor Tim explains, “I have know some of the players for over 10 years, most though over the last two years. The more time we spent with each other the better the commitment, and their willingness to listen when it came to spiritual things.”

So it was that this year, during Lent, Pastor Tim started sharing the Christian tradition of coloring and hiding eggs for Easter. He then went ahead and asked them if they would consider coming to the gym on Easter, not to play ball but to a worship service.

Having invited his fellow players to an Easter service, and their promise to attend, didn’t necessarily mean anyone would show up. People often have good intentions. Some of the players didn’t end up coming due to their going to be with family on Easter. But, in fact, there were a total of 37 people in all who came to hear an Easter message. The children got to hear the Easter story as well, and to hunt the colored eggs and learn how they are a reminder of new life.

Pastor Tim explains that their meeting in the gym for worship was a first time event, but that he is planning more gatherings soon, possibly a picnic.

His excitement that a number of men came with their families, Pastor Tim says, “This worked because the trust was there.” “I’ve known some of these players for years, and others more intently over the last two years. And so I think they know me pretty well. But I was grateful to God that they took me up on the offer, and that I could bring them the message of the cross of Christ and His resurrection victory this past Easter. And I am hopeful we can grow this thing. One thing I know for sure: for these men, there’s probably not a more comfortable place for us to get together to learn about God than here in the gym where we play ball.”

As far as friendships go, this opportunity to share the Gospel message was made possible by years of hitting the court together. Was this also part of what St. Paul was had in mind when he said, “I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some?” Well, I’m sure Pastor Dreier plays basketball because he loves the game. But he’s also seeing how sharing Christ off the court is the natural opportunity that playing a sport and investing time in making friends is now giving him.

Rev. Dr. Gary Rohwer

Mission Executive