The idea for the cheering section with the Fatheads came about after looking closely at the church's youth group (Submitted)
October, 25. 2021
Seeing a huge crowd waving and yelling just for them, is enough to make any student feel good about being who they are. Add in some Fatheads and you’ve got a real confidence booster. That’s exactly what a local church is doing for young athletes, to not just boost their confidence but to also help support them as they do their best to learn life’s lessons on the ball field.
Brian Saylor, Student Pastor at First Baptist Church Joelton, said the idea for the cheering section with the Fatheads came about after looking closely at their youth group. Roughly 15 – 20 schools are represented in the group, Saylor said.
“About half of the young people were involved in sports and were dedicating their time at a lot of games. We look at this as a way to highlight the young people,” he said.
How it works is there is a game of the week, in which one person or group would travel to that game.
“The Fatheads help the student feel special and cared about,” Saylor said.
At times, about 15-20 people from the church attended one game to support one person.
The church cheering sections first began at Davidson Academy and then later included home school and public-school students.
“The effort really goes beyond the school,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is create cliques, so we will cheer for home school, Christian school, private school, or public school.”
Saylor explained that attending games at different schools helps church members be exposed to different types of students and creates those conversations they wouldn’t see other places.
“It gives the opportunity to get out of a comfort zone and meet new people and share Jesus and have conversations,” he said.
Church members also get the chance to know parents and community members, and it draws enthusiasm, Saylor said.
Getting to see church group members away from the church is a real-life experience that helps get young people involved in more face-to-face talking rather on their phones and “has created a bit of a buzz with our kids in the group,” he added.
“Not everyone gets a pic from a Fathead on their Instagram,” Saylor said, so the draw of the Fatheads is pretty strong.
However, it all works toward a common goal of sharing faith.
“Some people have started to come to FBC, not a huge number, about 3-5 students have started coming to our Wednesday night youth meeting,” he said. “It’s hard to put a number on our reach. It’s important to let our young people know that we are starting to build a relationship with them, and that we’re here, and that they can build a relationship with us.”
Saylor said the game attendance is “a great way to show our students we love them where they are, and that’s been a great communication.”
Expanding their reach into other extracurricular activities is definitely in their plans, and First Baptist Church Joelton is planning to be wherever the students are. They are working next on checking out school band performances and plays.
“We don’t know if we’ll do a Fathead for the plays LOL, but we tell the parents to please let us know what your child is doing, whether it’s choir, plays, sports, we will be there. That’s the model Jesus gave. When I was younger, that was how I knew my church cared,” he said.
For single parents who may be struggling to get to all their children’s games, this cheering section lends a helping hand.
“We have a few in our group are single parents who may feel stressed, tired, and may have a hard time getting to all the games their children are playing. This effort is a good way to minister to those parents, and give them support,” Saylor said.