One of pickleball’s greatest assets is its ability to bring people together. Because of how accessible the sport is, people of all ages and backgrounds can pick up a paddle and play, allowing for deeper connections to be made while on the court.
Andrew Dyer is the pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in London, KY, who has been using pickleball as a tool to build interpersonal relationships and foster connections on the spiritual level. Dyer first picked up the game in 2021 when a church member asked if he’d be willing to put down pickleball lines in the church’s activity building.
In a recent interview with Kentucky Today, he said that he was completely unfamiliar with the game but was convinced by its growing popularity, especially in other Southern states.
“We had a small group of about eight that played through the fall and winter. In February one night, there were a lot of cars in the parking lot. I went to the activity building and people were playing pickleball. They said, ‘You need to come play with us.’”Andrew Dyer, Pastor of Corinth Baptist Church
Shortly after stopping and seeing how well the sport was being received, Dyer started playing with his wife, Corri, and the two became hooked immediately. After a successful fall and winter indoors, they started playing outdoors with other community members who weren’t connected to the church.
While he didn’t set out to evangelize for the congregation, he found that people often accepted religious conversations as he got to know the other players. He discovered that the pickleball court is a welcoming place to all; the more you play with others, the greater the opportunity to connect about other aspects of life.
“We started playing with people in the community who were not part of the church,” he said. “I wasn’t Pastor Andrew, I was just Andrew to them. And when we get to know them better, those gospel conversations can come naturally. The artificial barriers are eliminated.”
As Dyer began making more and more connections on the pickleball court, he started noticing those same people begin attending the church. He mentioned that a 75-year-old senior adult once played pickleball with the church group and immediately found herself welcomed within the group.
Since then, the church has hosted multiple community pickleball tournaments to welcome the greater community within London. People from all walks of life can attend and play in the tournaments and find an outlet for their religious needs.
Because of how easy it is to learn, along with its limited barriers of entry in terms of physical fitness and accessibility, pickleball is a sport that just about anyone can play. Dyer loves how pickleball can benefit people as a means of cardio exercise and as a way to build relationships through his faith.
“During the week of the Boys Sweet 16 when North Laurel was playing, everybody in the community was excited, of course. One young man stayed here to play pickleball at the church with his grandmother. How many things in America do we have where grandkids and grandparents can play an activity like that?”
If you want to learn more about Corinth and its pickleball tournaments, check out their website. Also, are you looking for a place to play pickleball in Kentucky? Check out our list of some of our top places to play in KY here!
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