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Free & Fit NYC - Faith & Fitness as One - Independent Study by Tim Cheux

The General Theological Seminary 2022

Timothy Chew

Dr. Michael Battle

Independent Study –

Faith and Fitness as One

Executive Summary

Faith, in the Christian context is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) when practiced, preached, and persistently shared it can be alive, living, and lively the way the Apostle Paul intended. The Christian faith is not a sprint, but a marathon, which takes courage, boldness, and strength to live out. The concepts of physical fitness and spiritual fitness are compared in the Bible (1 Timothy 4:7-8) and the new Faith and Fitness as One spiritual curriculum provides the perfect opportunity to explore new ways to pioneer to which this action research paper is formed. The Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy describes that both faith and spiritual fitness are of some value and when practiced together can be of infinite value.

This research paper measures fresh and new expressions of both historical religious prayers and modern-day sports and spiritual practices. The disciplines of a sports athlete or fitness professional can help that of a Christian to unite their faith and fitness to form one unique spiritual practice. As part of keeping the research authentic and unique participants and small groups were selected in London, New York, and New Jersey across different denominations, Churches and Ministries. With further research possible in different parts of the UK, Europe, and US the research collated in this paper is also unique because it looks at different urban and suburban areas of the world. This pilot curriculum begins to explore how the endorphins, adrenaline and perspiration of sport and fitness participation alongside studying the Bible can open up communities across the UK and the US to help a Christian believer in the West to open their whole self, spiritually, physically, socially, and mentally, to the works of the Holy Spirit whilst moving and meditating on God's word.


I would like to thank Registrar Stacey Warring, Professor Emily Wachner, Mother April Stace, Dean Michael Delashmett and Doctor Michael Battle for the willingness, patience, and perseverance to drive him forward to the completion of his Master of Divinity. Also, to those who have helped me along the way including Paul and Lynne Cucco, Sarah, Margaret and Michael Chew, Katie Eades, Julie Faith Parker, Anne Silver, Clair McPherson, Dawn Stegelmann, Deborah Lee, Barbara Crafton, Katie Libous, Brad Bloom, Matt Bartgis, Frank Reynoso, George McGovern, Greg Linville, Nav Merghan, Wayne Jones, Bonnie Harley, Dani and Chrishan Jeyaratnum, Tolu Badders, Brenda Thorn and many more that are not mentioned here!

A special shout out to the most patient, kind, loving, intelligent, beautiful, and creative lady in the world Elizabeth Anne Cucco this research is only possible because of your sacrifice, breadwinning and stable counsel that this was all achievable! Thank you, Liza, I love you!


The purpose of this study is to establish how Faith and Fitness can be formed as one spiritual practice. The literature review explores how movement and meditating on scripture can be informed through the original creation story of the Bible in 1 Genesis (Old Testament) and 1 John (New Testament). The methodology, rooted in innovation and original methods, has been created to ensure that the research is authentically new and has deliberately been practiced and expressed in different sport and spiritual practices as one spiritual discipline.

The research and analysis will also be original with the action research borrowed from the authors Master of Arts in Education to form results as both a teacher and researcher. The author will draw analysis from a small focus group, reflections from four online live one to one social media interviews and podcast recordings will complement a four-week faith and fitness case study to inform and create a new faith and fitness as one curriculum. The curriculum will later be published and released on the Free and Fit website

Literature Review - Context Setting

In the beginning the world was a formless void and the Holy Spirit breathed new light into the world. It is through the first breath of creation we can find the constancy of God's creation and breath (Genesis 1:1-3 NRSV) It is a key theme of understanding the importance of Breath of Creation through the Trinitarian nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit where breath re-creates new life in the creation story and new life into our human lungs every day.

Every new day the creation story is being recreated again through a new day, new breath, and new life. In 1 Genesis 2:7 it states that God breathed life into man and all humankind (Genesis 1:27,2:7 NRSV). It is here where we meet Jesus at the Beginning of the creation story, God's omnipresence, as it states in the beginning of the New Testament in John 1, that in the beginning God, the Son Jesus Christ, was the word (John‬ 1:1-5‬ NRSV‬‬). It goes on to inform us in the beginning of the Gospel of John that Jesus was present in the creation story that in “the beginning [before all-time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” (John‬ 1:1‬ AMP‬‬). Jesus is the Word (1 John AMP), and the Word was at the beginning of the Creation story (1 Genesis AMP). ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Revelation of God's Breath into Creation

All things were made through Jesus and the breath of the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1-5 NRSV) that formed the creation of the world, the creation of man (Genesis 1:27 NRSV) and the re-creation of our everyday lives (Genesis 2:7 NRSV). Christ was then born into the world fully human and fully divine to redeem all of God's creation as the freedom of Glory of the Resurrection as noted in Romans 8:20-22 all creation will be set free for God's glory (Romans 8:20-22 NRSV).

Prophetically speaking we can see all things are made new through Jesus in Revelation 21:1 which states that all things will be redeemed and made new. It is from the perspective of all things constantly being made new and recreated again and again that the creation story of the Bible through the lens of Jesus and the New Testament that we can build the foundational importance of the creation and Breath of Life into humankind lives into our daily breath in our faith and fitness journey.

To be more specific; with a healthy understanding of who gives us breath as participants in fitness we can build a healthy heart, a healthy habit and a healthy lifestyle through faith and fitness as one spiritual discipline. It is here where our spiritual practice begins to be authentically Christian and that it is possible through Faith in Jesus, as the creator of breath and humankind, we can exercise with breathing a healthy prayer life through physical Fitness and Exercise. That Faith and Fitness can be practiced as one spiritual daily practice.

The Origins of Faith & Fitness London

“Faith and Fitness London began in April 2013. The idea was to build a community, within the wider Holy Trinity Brompton network, of those who liked sport and had an interest in learning, growing, and sharing their faith in a sports-based small group (Chew, 2015).”

To practice faith and fitness you need to identify whether you would do this in a group or as an individual. In a Christian Community, or Koinonia, if built correctly, the experience can help form positive relationships in an individual's life. The author's current expression of Faith and Fitness, through the missional objective of the Free & Fit voluntary organization, will be the selected case study for this qualitative action research paper building on its own mission of offering community through Sports, the Arts, Outreach and Service including online and in person Faith and Fitness as One programs, lessons and curriculums (Chew 2022, accessed via

Faith and Fitness as One Spiritual Practice

In the Beginning (Genesis 1: 1, John 1: 1) we were born (Genesis 1: 27), we breathed our first breath (Genesis 2:7) and began our lives on this earth (Genesis 2: 8). For every human being there is a beginning (John 17: 20) and a breath (Acts 2: 4), but for what does this mean to us as Christians (Hebrews 11: 3). In the last breath of Christ (Matthew 27: 46), we all received immediate forgiveness (Psalm 13: 5). We entered this world with a Breath (John 1:1) at the Beginning, our Grace was received at our first, not in our own human strength, but instead it was all made possible in the strength of Jesus last (Philippians 4:13) at Calvary for us all to be redeemed from our sins (John 3: 16).

It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1) to experience the fullness of salvation (John 3:16) and to experience God's perfect love which casts out all fear (1 John 4:15-21). Through community we can grow in our understanding of loving God and our Neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40) in context to our own tradition, lifestyle, and culture. Through sports or fitness, we can further identify our calling and run our own race (Hebrews 12:1-2) not losing our hope of security in Christ and combining our interests with our spirituality (Psalm 130:4-7 N).

Therefore, we should stand firm in our faith (1 Corinthians 6:13), invite others to join our community and celebrate who Jesus is in our own contexts by sharing our common interests together (Hebrews 10:24-25). This should not happen without identifying the need for rest (Sabbath), the law (Love God and People) and humility (Surrender to God) of the Lord and redeeming all creation. To support the wider community and to improve the wellness of congregants within a Church context, increasing participation in exercise and social interactions supports the all-round wellness of physical, mental, social, and spiritual health.

Practices of Spiritual Disciplines

To establish a strong and pure Christian faith it is important to follow the Spiritual Disciplines that help form our belief in Jesus Christ. Richard Foster states in the Book Celebration of Discipline” that the “Disciplines of Abstinence; (solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, sacrifice) and Disciplines of Engagement (study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, submission) are essential practices for every Christian (p. 158, Foster, 1978)”. ​

Furthermore, in her book “Rugged” Gretchen Ronnevik shares the Spiritual Disciplines of the Spiritually exhausted including the chapters on “God Disciplines Those He Loves, Christ is Always the Way, Dependence not Achievement, enough, Authority, Privilege and Submission, Freedom through Dependence, Generosity, Lament, Rest and Discipleship (p. Contents, Grettchen, 2021)”. The nucleus of Prayer, Reading the Bible, Worship, Community, Silence (Listening to God), attending Church and developing relationships with fellow believers really strengthens an individual’s faith, but as recognized by Ronnevik and Foster it is essential to find a balance of Prayer and Active formation in our everyday lives.

Contemplation in Action

Therefore, to have an accessible process by which to combine our faith and fitness as one (John 17) it helps to inform our Christian practice of Spirituality through Sport. One way of completing the practice of silence is through contemplation. Richard Rohr introduces to us, through Micah 6:8, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Michael Curry’s Way of Love. Rohr and Friends in their book “Contemplation in Action” invites us to “act justly, love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God” through the practice of Silence and Solitude whilst actively practicing our Christian faith.

Edwina Gately speaks of the transformation from her practice of silence and following Christ through contemplation. She traveled through homelessness, unemployment and much before she could declare that “Today my life is a gift from a Power greater than myself. That power is, indeed, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (p. 63, Rohr et al, Gately, 2006). As noted by Block, to overcome a stuck community, “of people that markets fear, assigns fault and worships self-interest", we must bring restoration through Jesus Christ (p. 37, Block, 2018). Through a faith-filled restorative community we can create a space for “accountability chosen by citizens and their willingness to connect with each other around promises they make to each other (p. 49, Block, 2018)”.

Creativity in Faith and Fitness

Further than just Worship, Community and the Church Dann Wigner explores the concept that individuals need to be given the freedom to try different spiritual disciplines to be able to freely express themselves, their faith, and their uniquely different relationship with Jesus Christ. Wagner argues that we are not just made different, beautifully and in the image of God, but that our relationship and spiritual practices are also different, and we should be able to express ourselves in our faith and fitness differently accordingly (p. Ix, x and xi, Wagner, 2018).

It is from Wagner’s book that the author began to explore the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and the more traditional Anglo-Catholic Jesus Prayer more deeply and to incorporate it into a movement and meditation as part of prayer, plank, liturgy, and leg workouts. It is from the freedom to develop one’s own spiritual practice and tradition that unconventional Evangelical and Charismatic Christians can pray the Daily Office.

The Practice of Faith and Fitness Workouts as Prayer

Shaine Claborne has even introduced his own liturgical practice, as he was from an ecumenical and non-denominational background, called the Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals, enabling him to practice his own spiritual practices in a non-denominational context. This has encouraged other Christian leaders from outside the denominational Church begin to borrow ancient traditions in modern day Church. For example, the New York Pastors Pete and Geri Scazzero are re-developing the Anglican practice of the Daily Office Prayer practice in their course on “Emotionally Healthy Relationships” to encourage a deeper, stronger and more faith filled spiritual life with prayer being encouraged three times a day.

As the wider Church and different non-denominational ministries begin to express their faith in new, innovative, and ancient ways it allows other methods to also grow. This can help sports and fitness ministry professionals through their own faith and fitness methods to explore new spiritual practices. As the researcher prepared to express new and innovative core faith and fitness formational practices through daily devotions and reflections focus was placed on contemplation in action and the contemplative tree.

The author believed participants would benefit from praying every day through prayer, worship and reading our Bibles in a unique faith and fitness as one spiritual practice. As a Christian give’s Thanks and Praise to the Lord our God, participants can begin to see a new faith and fitness formation which is accessible through traditional and new methods such as movement and meditation, stretching and prayer and planking and praying! For the purposes of this research the paper the Episcopal Devotion book of Saint Augustine Prayer Book was selected for weekly Lenten practices, the Easter Triduum, and reflection for a 40-day Psalms, Planks, Prayers and Petitions case study including six blog post, daily workouts and live YouTube and Instagram recordings.

Research Objectives & Questions

From the constructed literature review the author has drawn five specific research questions to be answered in one-to-one narrated social media interviews, a small focus group from selected discipleship groups, in New York and London, and a forty day and forty workout Lent study, a Faith and Fitness qualitative study in person four-week practical case study and a six-day Holy Week practical pilot of the pilot Faith and Fitness as One curriculum.

The research methods selected have been used to form open and non-scientific responses. In the practice of any form of spirituality questions can be raised around science and the ethics of such said scientific research practices. To reduce the need for quantitative and closed narration or transcription and to allow for the author and researcher to identify patterns and behavior in participants results will be gathered on social media channels to record responses both verbally, physically, and spiritually.

This was important to ensure the teacher, researcher, and author (all the same person) could be free to witness, observe and participate whilst learning, teaching, and recording the results. The writer would like to define the role as author of writing, collating, and constructing the research. The role of Teacher as a professional sports coach and spiritual director. Finally, the role as researcher of observing and reflecting upon coaches from FCA and MBCY coaching participants of the four-week case study.

Therefore, it was important to have open questions to enable varied responses and variable research methods. As noted by practical theologians Boyung Lee and Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, to offer “engaged spirituality” rather than a more religious rule of life, such as Benedictions and Monastic practices, free spirituality allows for more space to listen to God, to find your own independent practice of prayer and allows more freedom in research, analysis, and results to get more authentic research responses (Moschella et al, 2018).

To observe the process of this four-part methodology the researcher employed a reflective observational approach rather than a quantitative or transcription. As the researcher constructed analysis reflections were formulated in a non-scientific qualitative journal reflection and Blog post allowing opportunity for open approaches to writing, podcasting, and trialing different practices of faith and fitness. This included a specific focus on the original Christian creation story in Genesis, the original breath into humankind and how faith and fitness was first formed as one in John 17 through Jesus’ prayer for all believers to be one.

The observations were made whilst actively teaching and researching including description, analysis, evaluation, and response stages of this action research paper observing the new methods of research to witness “embodied spirituality’ through faith and fitness disciplines and frerian qualitative methods to ancient, innovative and some new modern spiritual practices discussed in the literature review and now recorded via live observational research and analysis as part of this action research study (Moschella et al, 2018).

Research Objectives:

  • To explore practical Faith & Fitness formational Spiritual Disciplines for everyday life.

  • To complete a four-week field study to establish receptiveness and openness to different sports and spirituality practices.

  • To evaluate participants' thoughts on combining Faith & Fitness practices with feedback to the newly formed Faith & Fitness as One six-part pilot curriculum.

Research Questions:

  1. Why do you think Churches and Ministries separate the concepts of Faith & Fitness?

  1. How do you see these concepts at work together in your own Ministry?

  1. Where do you see examples of the two practices of Faith and Fitness in action together?

  1. What can we do as a Faith and Fitness community to extend the invitation for these two concepts to be used by individuals as a Spiritual Discipline as one?

  1. When may the opportunity arise for groups to bring the concepts of Faith and Fitness together in community?

Description - Four One to One Interview Social Media Video Live Recordings

Four live zoom media conversations were recorded via video for the purposes of gaining a deeper understanding of the topic of Faith and Fitness as one and to seek answers from both Ministry and Church Sports professionals. The questions were asked directly in correlation to the research objectives and were observed and analyzed through recordings from an online live discussion through the research and analysis and appendix section.

The chosen research method of qualitative, open-ended, responses was chosen to allow respondents to speak to those people who lead ministries across contexts in the Church and different Ministry settings without caution. The spectrum of different sports and fitness fields means it can be difficult to define a clear faith and fitness platform, industry, or profession. Therefore, the freedom of different research methods and spiritual practices offers hope to the participants, leaders and coaches in their own programs who don't necessarily attend Church or profess to being Christian. By combining Henry Nouwen’s practice of “spiritual hospitality” and through “research as caring” for those who perhaps feel disenfranchised from either faith or fitness it allows for different voices to be heard, made more welcome and integrated into a sport and spirituality community (Moschella et al, 2018).

Brad Bloom was asked as the first respondent. As the Founder of Faith and Fitness magazine, a sports ministry publication that has been circulated for nearly twenty years, Brad contributes to and formulates much of the conversation about Faith and Fitness as One. Secondly, De Bolton, a sports professional practitioner who trains, disciples, and spiritually practices faith and fitness as one. Both respondents were asked the same five research questions to give their own responses in context to their own target audiences. For Brad his target was a more group Ministry organizations and national sports and fitness audiences in comparison to De’s more specific local New Jersey audience of Mothers, parents, and female leaders in the Church.

Pastor Laura Steel was also interviewed to gain insight and understanding from a professional Church Pastor who has run and continues to incorporate sports spiritual practices into her whole Church ministry. Finally, Roland Brown was interviewed in exciting circumstances after his recent implementation of a faith and fitness as one ministry in California where he had previously been doing separate faith-based fitness activities before has now been given full permission to offer whole scale faith and fitness incorporated as one full embodied classis with equipment, space, and full access to his local Churches congregation.

Analysis - Focused Small Group 40 Days and 40 Workout Devotions Feedback

Throughout the Lenten season a Prayer, Collect, Psalm, Prayer and Daily Workout and Reflection was shared with a focused small group of adult Christians from a non-denominational context in London and New York where the researcher is currently serving. This 40-day Lenten period included following the St Augustine Prayer Book with six Psalms which were available for reading, bible study and discussion during the four to five weeks of lent. This took place across media platforms through a Zoom Bible study, Instagram social media workout and campaign, text message outreach communication to new Christians and WhatsApp daily devotion.

Psalms included were 6, 32, 38, 51, 102 and 143. A lectio Divina style reading was completed, with discussions held via zoom. Daily devotions were shared with online prayers, collects, psalm readings, reflections, and workouts throughout Lent. The physical workout included a fourteen to forty repetition challenge through daily high intensity interval workouts with Psalms, Planks and Prayers. Spiritual formation was available through daily prayers and collects. Mental and Social discussions took place through small group zoom discussions, one to one spiritual directions sessions and online group with individual prayer, praise, and discussion threads.

Evaluation - Four Week Practical Pilot Faith & Fitness Case Study

For four weeks on a Saturday morning the author partnered as an active teacher and researcher serving with MBCY Athletics at the Christian Bible Academy in Inwood Manhattan. The author, alongside Fellowship of Christian Athletes and MBCY coaches, practiced action research through a four-week case study. To implement the Faith and Fitness as One curriculum the author, acting as teacher in this research method, coached twelve coaches who are eighteen- to forty-year-old from all different parts of New York City. The FCA and MBCY coaches, including the author of this paper, as researcher, observed the impact of practicing both the specialism of Fitness (Basketball) and Faith (The Lord's Prayer) through coaching both the sports staff from MBCY and FCA and the young ten- to twelve-year-old Basketball sports participants.

The author offered the Faith and Fitness as One four-week pilot curriculum with a morning devotion and physical cardio warm up with the coaches. Following the coaches’ session, there was a full cardio circuit, high intensity interval training session, fartlek session, and off the ball fitness session trialing the curriculum with ten- to twelve-year-old Basketballers. Each week the program closed with a word of encouragement to the whole community through teaching and preaching God's word to all the coaches, players, and families in the community.

Response - Six Day Practical Holy Week Faith & Fitness Curriculum

Throughout Holy Week six live workout recordings of the Faith and Fitness as One curriculum were made available on YouTube, the themes, scriptures, prayers, and workouts were selected based on feedback from the previous the research of the six blog posts, authors independent reflections, four one to one interview and the Lenten forty daily devotions and daily workouts. Through the analysis and practice of the curriculum for forty days, the author was able to trial different faith and fitness practices prior to group and in person research with larger groups.

The Faith & Fitness as One Curriculum for Lent (Pilot Version) is included in the appendix of this paper and is fully accessible online via Blog, YouTube, and Instagram at The recordings were completed during lent and included weekly podcasts of the seven Jesus “I am” sayings, walking meditations, and weekly activities and devotions.

Methodology Summary

These short research methods provide a wide variety of qualitative methods to gather new findings, deeper relational responses, and more authentically built answers through action research online, in person and hybrid models to form a new curriculum with case study examples. By selecting active qualitative analysis, rather than narrational or transcription focused research, the author was able to develop a deeper understanding of the sport participants and coaches’ reaction to the pilot curriculum. To understand any form of “spiritual embodiment” and to help foster “spiritual hospitality” actively the author had to be present and observe the curriculum naturally manifest in community as part of the coaching staff. The helps the author to be able to teach, preach and complete further outreach in different communities and learn more about how people respond to different faith and fitness spiritual practices.

This allows for periodic feedback through observation, one to one and in a small group. Research was conducted in the winter and spring term of 2022 in the greater New York City metropolitan area through the authors' Church, network, and connections to ecumenical relationships.

Research Execution

The four steps of observation included the following process:

  • Description - Four One to One Interview Social Media Video via YouTube

  • Analysis - Focus Small Group 40 Days & 40 Workout Devotion via WhatsApp & Zoom

  • Evaluation - Four Week Practical Pilot Faith & Fitness Case Study in Person

  • Response - Six Day Holy Week Faith & Fitness Curriculum via Instagram and YouTube

Each stage was periodically commented on through the research and analysis, but rather than a specific narration, transcript or focus group themes and patterns will be selected quotes identified, points referenced from the researcher and respondents, opinions and experiences referenced to support any suggested new or innovative research to help formulate a six, or ultimately seven, part Faith and Fitness as One curriculum.

Research & Analysis

Description - Four One to One Interview Social Media Video Narrated Campaign

During the interviews via YouTube, common themes, and threads through the discussions with the author emerged. Firstly, every type of sport or fitness activity has been available to every person or age group through the combination of movement and mediation. Whilst in discussions with Brad Bloom it emerged that both racquet sports: including Pickleball to Seniors and Tennis to Toddlers or more fitness focused activities were actively providing community, but not necessarily faith formation.

That Yoga to Mums with One Little Ones or Pilates in Person similarly echoed strong community, but limited opportunities to preach the Gospel. This style of sports ministry was offered through Faith and Fitness programs the author offered when if first began in London in 2013. However, the key differentiator here, to the new Faith and Fitness as One curriculum, was the integration of both faith and fitness together as one embodied spiritual discipline (Bloom 2022, Chew 2015.)

Sports ministry practitioner De Bolton shared how her clients were actively more aware of how the adrenaline, endorphins and perspiration of fitness activity helped them get closer to God spiritually through access to the Holy Spirit whilst exercising their faith. Instead of just reading their Bibles on their phone or paperback, when they were actively moving and meditating on God's word, they experienced a deeper understanding of the text and more intimate visual and graphic interpretations of the scriptures (Bolton, 2022, Chew, 2022.)

Furthermore, both Laura Steele and Raymond Brown spoke about how their Churches saw the value of integrating sport or fitness programs to draw congregants around God's word either through programs like the Daniel Plan or previous Free and Fit challenge and Yoga or Pilates fitness specific programs. In ministry or outside the Church interviewees stated with Faith and Fitness as One programs were also possible with local community groups like Revelation Wellness or Faith RX two methods or organizations also mentioned by Bloom and Bolton (Steele, 2022; Brown, 2022).

Analysis - Focus Group on 40 Days, 40 Devotions and 40 Workouts with Feedback

As part of establishing an online presence and community, the author created a specific Lenten devotional which included daily online devotions, workouts, and reflections with Prayers, Psalms, Planks and Praise sessions for forty days and forty nights. The process of receiving feedback was lengthy including five samples which have been included to establish, and to discover, how well an online platform would be received via daily workouts on social media through Instagram, zoom weekly Bible readings and regular devotional encouragements. This was also made possible through the WhatsApp messenger application and intentional personal text messaging.

The group of sample respondents unanimously said they would rather meet in person, which has been an overwhelming response across platforms for many Churches and Ministries. Yet in the local community many people are still transitioning and returning to Church for the first time even this past weekend. As a result, the group created an in-person gathering through an Alpha (foundational Christian course) outreach program in addition to the planned online zoom community, to gather people in person. However, members also said they appreciated being able to meet later at night at eight o’clock in the evening. This helped them to be in the comfort of their own homes, and sit down to read their Bibles after dinner, before bed and with access remotely to help create a healthy environment. The preparation for sleep, food planning for the next day and to spend more intimate time with God in their own homes.

As we read the scriptures through Lent, we applied the Lectio Divina style of mediation and repetition which enabled deep thought to take place and for different people to read the verses. The chosen Psalm was read earlier in the day as part of the daily workout, which enabled space for deeper reflections and encouraged group conversations. This helped participants identify independent challenges stirred by reading the verses with different people's voices being heard and other people able to all contribute to the community. The small group weekly discussions provided access to and helped engage the community in knowledge of God's word. Research developed plus authentic application, personal accountability to everyday life faith and fitness activity with more positive lifestyle choices being made, people staying in community and lives being transformed through spiritual hospitality, fellowship, and devotional reading.

The online workouts enabled participation anywhere and accountability around different issues including health, fitness, and devotional reading. The online community WhatsApp group invited participation, but not everybody took part in the physical fitness and faith parts of the 40-day Lenten study. Therefore, this again identifies the need for integration of faith and fitness together in person not just online. This is where the next stage of the practical, in person, four-week curriculum comes in, which was targeted at young adults 18-35 as coaches, youth of 10-12 years of age, and finally through whole family communities as part of forming the sermon series which will follow this research.

Evaluation - Four Week Practical Pilot Faith & Fitness Case Study

To be able to establish a curriculum, the evaluation of both the one-to-one interviews and devotional led to a final four-week case study pilot before writing a six-part pilot curriculum which was informed by the six-week (forty days) devotionals, workouts, podcasts, small group meetings, and one to one interview and focus group. This led to further consultation with industry professionals from Sports Ministry organizations Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the chosen case study with MBCY in uptown Manhattan.

The pilot program has helped build a nucleus of what the curriculum would look like to two different age groups and help form practical and physical implementation plans. Finally, a theological and teaching opportunity was created through preaching to the local families, children, and community at the end of the sessions each Saturday.

The pilot program helped identify the need for a formational scriptural basis for the foundation to be rooted in God’s word as part of full curriculum. That participant, coaches and the community needed to understand how to share their faith and fitness experiences with others with examples and application to physical exercise to truly understand for themselves why faith and fitness as one makes sense for their own spiritual formation. Participants left cardio sessions singing and praising, coaches left devotional morning times challenged and encouraged and the community went out into their weekly routines with a word of encouragement.

These practices do not replace Church, they simply provide a practical spiritual discipline through ancient practices which can be applied to everyday needs for spiritual, physical, social, and mental well-being. Other areas need to be addressed including nutrition, diet, financial and relational health in the curriculum. However, the core focus is on the foundational purposes of prayer, reading the Bible and daily devotions and workouts. The curriculum provides a nucleus for a healthier lifestyle, more active fitness community and Holy spiritual practice of reading devotions for everyday practical religious and spiritual observance. The acknowledgement of a need for God to be a part an individual, group or community lifestyle everyday was very apparent in the communities of online and in person participants.

Response - Six Part Pilot Practical Holy Week Faith & Fitness as One Curriculum

During Holy Week the pilot course was completed, presented and available live and online. Through live Instagram stories, recordings, and physical workouts the teaching, preaching and outreach of the pilot curriculum was fully accessible and can be found in the appendix of this paper. Each workout is complete with a prayer, activity, Lenten devotion, and reflection from the author of each research question.

The action research took take place across all four observational research methods throughout the forty days and nights with description, research, analysis, and evaluation. For the purposes of this evaluation, rather than making scientific assessments, further study and recommendations are included in a research paper previously presented at the Reach conference of Fall 2021. A further potential sports and spirituality case study was planned, but with analysis the full evaluation only a full seven-day curriculum could be possible through the complete seven-part curriculum being created. Rather than making bold theological statements, judgements, or opinions the author feels an accessible seven-part curriculum for the everyday individual, individuals, groups, or communities, whether Christian or non, to find Jesus Christ was most helpful and efficient.

The purpose of the Faith and Fitness as One curriculum is to create community for small groups, reduce loneliness for individuals and for authentic faith families to be created to serve the local community. This seven-day, seven-part scheme of work and teaching outline are suggested outline to be implemented as follows:

  • Monday - the Lord's Prayer - Luke 11:2-4; John 17:20-26 - Faith and Fitness as One activity with a High Intensity Interval Training Session.

  • Tuesday - the Jesus Prayer - Luke 18:9-17 - Sport and Spirituality - Chosen sport or recreational group activity with specific liturgy and instruction.

  • Wednesday - the Breath Prayer - Mark 10:46-52- Workout, Word, and Worship creative Artistic, Dance, Workout and Worship session with Music and Live Band.

  • Thursday - the Examen Prayer - Proverbs 3:5-6 - Examen, Educate and Exercise walk, jog or run whilst picking litter (plogging) and cleaning the local community.

  • Friday - Thanksgiving Prayer - Psalm 100: 4-5 - Plank, Prayer and Psalm monastic movement and meditation with three-part morning, noonday or evening liturgical prayer and planking session.

  • Saturday - Eucharistic Prayer - Luke 22:19-20 - Community, Communion and Circuit with run and circuit workout with Holy Eucharist for the community.

  • Sunday - Forgiveness and Salvation Prayer - Romans 10:9-10 - Sacred, Salvation and Sabbath - Rest Day with Church, stretch, spiritual direction and full surrender to the Lord.

Source: Author’s Own (2022), Suggested Faith and Fitness as One Curriculum

It is the author’s belief that the implementation of the practice of the curriculum into participants' daily lives will transform the individual, group, and community to not just love sport or spirituality, but to overcome challenges, obstacles, and everyday activities together in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Conclusions and Suggested Further Research

In conclusion, the need for new Faith and Fitness communities and curriculums continues as the world changes the way we communicate, interact, and meet. Friendships are no longer simply formed by just meeting people in person. For genuine community, healthy relationships, and authentic connection new methods of communication have to be formed thorough planning, hospitality and deliberate in person engagement needs to be developed in the Church, in vocational Sports and Fitness Ministries, and the wider secular society.

To create a safe connection point for people and organizations it is important that real life struggles can be shared, worked through together on, and supported by healthy, well-educated, and ethical spiritual leaders. Therefore, Faith and Fitness ministries, Churches, and Christian religious organizations must train, equip, and ensure their work, leaders, and staff are well prepared to meet the needs of those whom they serve. For this to be done efficiently the research in this paper helps to identify the purpose, benefits, and advantages of working in and through people's daily lives with daily devotions, workouts, online and in person communication, communities, and care teams.

The research objectives of this paper were created to develop a pilot curriculum and case study which help identify some of the different needs of individuals, groups, and family-based communities. Participants stressed the importance of the need for in person gatherings and some even sought both in person meetings and some online zoom check in meetings. Through more engaged conversation in the focus groups and small group discussions participants expressed a desire for a variety of teaching on both sacred and modern sports or fitness spiritual disciplines and a demand for specific fitness programs and varied sports offerings for both different age groups and different levels for all abilities of every participant.

Much work needs to be done to develop the pilot curriculum. The final presentation of the program, resources, and filming of the Faith and Fitness as One course are yet to be completed but will be ready before the end of the semester. The author plans to establish a more accessible online course, updated website, and social media platforms on the Free and Fit platform. This also needs to be regularly updated, re-invented and prepared for the release of local, national, and potential international course offerings. However, the pilot curriculum can be immediately made available to Churches and Ministries for next Lent; an additional curriculum will be prepared for an Advent Christmas 2022 offering.

The author’s next aim is for the Faith and Fitness as One curriculum to provide opportunities for evangelism, discipleship, faith formation, and foundational teaching of a full Faith and Fitness as One spiritual seven-part curriculum. Leaders will be equipped with supporting material including simple one-page themes, sermon series and supporting help resources for Churches and Ministries to offer the program to Individuals, Groups and Family Communities. The author concludes from the pilot case study and curriculum the following key points:

  • Participants were hungry for in person spiritual face to face contact, authentic connection opportunities and a need to read God's word both independently and in groups more actively.

  • Individuals and groups desired deeper understanding of what to pray, when to pray and how to connect and pray with others.

  • Leaders desired a more established faith and fitness focused curriculum to teach, coach, preach and supply outreach to both Church and Sports Ministry related communities.

  • Research helps to determine patterns and behaviors, but more action focused active case studies, pilot curriculums and examples help coaches, ministers, and Christian leaders to diversify their approach to communicating the Gospel through faith and fitness spiritual disciplines.

  • Further implementation of the pilot case study is required with live recordings with a worship team, film team and production team to fully roll out the curriculum to individuals, groups, and countries to share the Faith and Fitness as One curriculum to the wider Church and global communities.

Further suggested research includes the following ideas for the author to explore deeper and more scientific and non-scientific focused research to write a PHD or Doctor of Ministry program:

  • Further academic study of ancient spiritual prayer practices and modern sports or fitness activities to assess the impact of movement and meditations of Christian spirituality and sport on individuals, groups, and communities.

  • Trial and sample “Faith and Fitness as One” programs across Day & Weekend retreats and summer camp programs to measure the impact of the curriculum on different age groups, abilities, and demographics to observe, measure and witness any spiritual, physical, mental, or social healthy lifestyle and community in a Church context.

  • Develop the concept of a flag ship Faith and Fitness community modelled with full clinics, camps, and curriculums to be owned, run, and developed in the future by the author and his wife as a full-time calling and career in an ecumenical context.

  • Full program, curriculum and retreat center for individuals, groups and communities uniting the authors research of Faith and Fitness not just as one spiritual practice, but to become a spiritual community and potential summer camp in a ministry context.

Finally, the author would like to encourage readers to join the Free and Fit community via “@freeandfitnyc” on Instagram and YouTube to find out more about the Faith and Fitness as One spiritual practice available to group, individuals, Churches or Ministries. Further implementation and practical access of the curriculum will be available in December 2022.


Appendix 1.0 Personal Reflections of the Author with Further Recommendations & Suggested Practical Application and Next Steps - Extract from Presentation from Reach Conference Fall 2021

The theory of Faith and Fitness is not an alien one. We all remember Eric Liddle’s stand not to exercise his fitness one faithful Sunday at the 1924 Olympics to mark the sabbath day or we fondly rejoice when a Christian sports celebrity like Patrick Mahomes publicly declares their faith at the Super Bowl and Praises God for the victory or for Bear Grylls when he reaches his destination and has accomplished what he set out to achieve on one of his many hiking adventures.

When I attended a Sport Ministry event in England at Lambeth Palace Archbishop Justin Welby quoted from the book of Hebrews and encouraged us to keep running our own faith in the context of our fitness. To keep going, to keep sharing the Gospel and to keep encouraging one another. We all left feeling encouraged and edified from the hospitality, the welcome and the attention we received as sports ministers as often is the case, we are not always welcome to practice our Ministry, our Gifts, and our Skills at the Pulpit on a Sunday or on the Field on a Saturday. We are often sidelined to serve Jesus. Yet here both Paul and the Archbishop argue otherwise, instead they want to lift our Fitness or Sports Ministries and encourage us in our Faith.

The Apostle Paul said it like this in Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2”

“Paul states that we should run with “perseverance” for the “joy” that awaits us. An eternal joy which far surpasses any temporary joy we may experience whilst on this earth. Paul believes himself that we will receive a greater prize in Romans 8. “The author considers that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”

Romans 8:18.

So, the author hears you ask how can the author do this in my local community? How can the author share my faith and my fitness? Well, let's break it down into four simple health related focused goals. Firstly, the World Health organization has historically defined Health as being Social, Physical and Mental well-being, being Christian we would like to add to that our Spiritual goals as well and specifically our own faith. Not just an adopted spiritual discipline of another faith or religion. So, for the purposes of this presentation the author will be focusing on these four core principles of a holistic well-being of our faith and fitness across four key disciplines of social, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Firstly, we need to build our social health around the communities we serve in. In the UK Christians in Sport motto is to place one member of their teams on a secular sports team so that a Christian would be present in every community. This is also true of Chris High at Hoboken Grace Church. As part of his outreach, he wanted to place one member of the Church on a Zog sports team in the local community.

This theory is great in practice but fails to follow up to the way in which Christ sent out his disciples. Two by two they entered the ark; two by two they went from town to town to preach the Gospel and where two or three gather there is God during them. When you see Preachers on street corners on their own shouting over microphones do you feel they are maximizing their impact? Accessible to answer questions? Available to pray for people? If we gather in twos and threes, we can represent both our faith as Christians and our fitness as teams.

When we socially interact with others, we need to be together. Not sent out alone or left alone. It is not good for man to be alone. So, in every situation let's not be in the habit of neglecting our fellowship together and our shared ministry of preaching the Gospel of the world together. This is where our faith and fitness combine. Playing sports together and sharing the Gospel together. If it was good for the disciples, it is good for us!

Send out Trained Teams of people to invite, to collaborate and to organize events together. Never go it alone! Two or three people together. If you can’t recruit many people to events or sports ministry gatherings, organize a sports or fitness ministry prayer event. People can always pray together!

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25”

Returning to our original scripture in Hebrews Paul described Jesus as the “pioneer” and “perfecter” of our faith. Here we can obviously make every effort to imitate Christ and certainly our prayers should be that we are aiming to be more like Christ every day as the hands and feet of Jesus in each individual local community. Yet, we may not be able perfect the image of Christ we can certainly be pioneers in our faith and fitness expressions. Chris Eckhart in the US and the Church or England and Methodist Church are huge influencers of creating fresh expressions of Church across different contexts in rural, suburban, and urban communities. More recently, HTB in England has been planting exponentially through the pioneer ordination track releasing, equipping, and training pastoral leaders to serve in fresh expressions of Church communities. However, perhaps we have not picked up on this in sports ministry.

Walking onto our local Basketball court, organizing the annual sports day event and local fitness outreach remain all good ideas, but don't quite embody the practice of faith and fitness together. Through borrowing some of the practices of fresh expressions and specifically “Dinner Church'' Faith and Fitness magazine pioneer Brad Bloom and the author took part in an Easter campaign to coordinate and organize in our local communities for Eucharist and Exercise to take part as one in the gym and outdoors in the Park this past April. Through sharing communion in the gym whilst meeting together Brad was able to bring the idea of breaking bread together into a new context and combine crunches with communion.

As part of my own Free & Fit communion we received communion during our warmup for a 3-mile run (5k) and broke bread together in Central Park in New York City. Likewise, you can also do this in your own faith and fitness context.

Combine your own expression of Faith & Fitness by sharing communion in the context and community you serve. Check to see if anybody is gluten free or doesn’t drink alcohol. It could be awkward if people can't accept the elements you share! We don’t want to disqualify people from receiving communion.

“Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:19

Whilst studying towards my Master of Divinity in an Anglo-Catholic context the author has picked up on some of the Churches ancient traditions including saying the Lord's Prayer every day, reciting the Jesus Prayer and even learning part of the Rosary and buying my own beads!

However, what was most fascinating for me was being able to apply some of these ancient traditions to my own daily practice of sports and spirituality practices. Rather than borrowing some of Zumba, Pilates, or Yoga formational exercises the author has formed my own Christian warm up, exercise routine and movement and meditation. Perhaps it's not rooted specifically in Christian traditions, but as the author lives and moves and has my being the author is reciting scripture, saying said Christian prayers and meditating on God's word. The author believes the author is combining my own faith and fitness for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The following points are raised from a previous Blog on the Lord's Prayer as an expression of Sport & Spirituality.

These positions are not essentially specific movements which relate to the specific movement or exercise, but they can be changed and adapted to your own scriptures and stretches to suit what you need. However, for the purposes of being indoors the author will make sure to reference when the author next enters an outdoor space that it is prepared with Holy and Almighty God able to adapt and change to the specific experiences of people on a case-by-case scenario. The Lord's prayer with stretching and praying.

Our Father in heaven hallowed be thy name starts with a stretch between your legs, which are fifteen centimeters further than shoulder width apart, and with your hands stretched out behind your heels. The verse read from the book of Luke states that Jesus said the following beginning to the prayer.

“He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom comes.”

Luke‬ 11:2‬ AMP‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

All mentions of the Lord's prayer are adapted from the said scripture to form a prayer and not specifically from passages in the Gospels of Matthew or Luke. We then look at the forgiveness part of the Lord's Prayer.

“And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended or wronged us]. And lead us not into temptation [ but rescue us from evil].’ 

Luke‬ 11:4‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Again, all these practices can be adapted and adopted to your own expression of faith and fitness and the author encourages you to try independently doing this practice as one in your own space and time.

Spending time alone moving and meditating on God's word whether you swim laps, run a mile, hike, walk, or ride a bike you can focus your fitness on your faith at the same time by fixing your mind on Jesus.

Write down memory verses for your workout alongside your session plan to help you remember to focus on God in your workout.

But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.”

Luke 5:16

As part of my studies these past three years the author has also become more and more aware of the mental health impact of my Ministry on my own faith. It's become more and more apparent that the author needs help and support to process others' prayer requests and praise reports. Many healthy testimonies of healing and sad passing of loved ones can take its toll on the best Pastors and Priests in the Church. To not seek support of prayer, help to discern decision making and to be held accountable would be a foolish decision by anyone's standards. Teachers and Doctors receive mental health help. It would be naive to assume as Sports Ministry leaders we would not experience at some point in our careers burn out.

As a result of this I have been working with a Spiritual Director in both group and individual settings to help support me. Not all at the same time, or for all the same things, but to help me process the decisions I need to make, to pray about specific prayer concerns and to share my struggles of faith in confidence with a fellow believer. These meetings have been crucial, supported me through the pandemic and helped my mental and spiritual fitness.

It would be my recommendation to seek a Spiritual Director, but also to potentially consider joining a group or community in spiritual direction and even possibly becoming a spiritual director for others. The 360-degree model of mentoring doesn’t quite transfer in spiritual direction, but you can certainly receive and give direction.

Get a Spiritual Director or join a Spiritual Direction Group. You can find spiritual directors online for your denomination or geographical area by searching on Google. You only need to meet monthly, and you can change directors after three months.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”

Proverbs 13:20

In conclusion, this has brought me back to the basic foundational concepts of running and praying, stretching, and praying and reading the Word of God whilst moving with the Body given to us by God. In the Bible it says, “For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” Acts‬ 17:28‬ AMP‬ Thus meaning that as God's children we can play, we can move, we can sing, we can dance, and we can pray with God's word.‬‬‬

Appendix 1.1 The Faith & Fitness as One Curriculum for Lent (Pilot Version)

Session One - Faith & Fitness as One - John 17 - Matthew 6:9-13 - The Lord's Prayer

Blog Post:

Workouts Part One:

Session Two - Sport & Spirituality Intwined - Luke 18: 9-14 - The Jesus Prayer

Session Three - Word, Workout & Worship - Psalm 100:4-5 - Thanksgiving Prayer

Session Four - Examen, Educate & Exercise - the Saint Ignatius Examen Prayer - Proverbs 3:5-6 - Wisdom Prayer

Session Five - Prayers, Planks & Psalms - Genesis 2:5-7 - Breath Prayer

Session Six- Community in Communion - Holy Communion in Faith & Fitness - Luke 22:19-20 - Communion Prayer

Appendix 1.2 One to One YouTube Interview

Interview with Brad Bloom available here on unlisted URL for research purposes only due to ethics, permissions and agreed consent.

Interview with De Bolton available here on unlisted URL for research purposes only due to ethics, permissions and agreed consent.

Interview with Laura Steele available here on unlisted URL for research purposes only due to ethics, permissions and agreed consent.

Interview with Roland Brown available here on unlisted URL for research purposes only due to ethics, permissions and agreed consent.

Appendix 1.3 Feedback from Small Group 40 Days and 40 Nights with St Augustine's Penitent Psalms

Feedback via three Small Group Questions

  • What did you like about our group?

  • What did you experience in our group?

  • What would you like to see more of in our group?

Some Selected Sample responses

“The Free and Fit group has not only provided insightful biblical knowledge, however, has given a Godly personal into the world of fitness. Fitness and Faith combined in unison together equal a steadfast conclusion to life.

Enjoying the psalms daily and the visual content, perhaps some more worship music as those is wonderful to combine with a workout or simply getting lost in the spirit. Think personalized encouragement in the group to drop a message to individuals would be wonderful. Great to be a part of a faith filled community with wholehearted grit and determination.”

Laura Loughton (London new attendee)

I liked trying something new (the Bible art and lectio Divina). I like that Tim and Liza try to help the community (Hoboken shelter). The group has a real sense of community right from the very first experience you can feel everyone’s genuine concern and care.

And more of… umm… while zoom was good for me while I was connecting from a distance and it may work for people who have a tight schedule, just can’t make it out that week m, etc., there’s nothing like in person fellowship. “

Nichole McLarin (NJ regular attendee).

I have been part of the Hoboken group since last year. The online group was ideal for me considering the pandemic and not wanting to travel into the city. Tuesday nights have provided me with an opportunity to connect with other believers while leaving encouraged.

I appreciate that we meet weekly and that even during the holidays, the group continues. I am thankful for Tim and Liza’s leadership and for being prepared to lead the group each week. Being part of this group has led to in-depth discussions on the Psalms. I like the format as it allows everyone to share in the reading and provide reflection. Tim always finds ways to encourage in-person events and cares deeply for others. I appreciate the time he has taken in sending daily scriptures on the “WhatsApp” group and continues to lead the group.”

Janice Heiman (NJ Regular attendee)

Free and Fit focuses on growth. Spiritual growth is inseparable from a healthy lifestyle and exercising. This is strongly encouraged in the Faith and Fitness as One curriculum.

I like seeing the life development of group members. How they flourish, support, and have a good time together. We need more in person meet ups doing something together.

Alina Sharapova (London project manager).

While I hadn’t had the chance to participate as much as I wanted due to time conflicts on my end, during my experience in this small group I felt

God's goodness radiating through the evening. You see people from all different backgrounds, all a part of God's creation that we can rejoice and be glad in all the shared experiences that are only enhancing one another’s Kingdom walk. I liked that the group was intentional with fostering engagement before we went directly to the word for the night.

Everyone had a chance to say something unique from the ice breaker which gives everyone the chance to know one another better. It cultivates a culture of unity, that we aren’t just gathering but in the gathering we become family for that is what God loves to see throughout his children being United as Brothers and Sisters together.

Christian Thelwell (NJ First time attendee)

“This Verse I read and think maybe for us, may you be planted exactly where God has purposed and may you be fruitful, the faith and fitness connection has been valuable and appreciated. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, and who prospers in all he does.”

Oh, and reaching out to others, and reflecting kindness through grace, faith and fitness is one of the best attributes in life. Stronger, fitter and resilient in faith.”

Dave Hindman (London regular attendee)

The digital connection with Free and Fit helped me develop spiritually, physically and relationally. The Easter journey imparted a deep understanding of the value of Jesus' life, death, and the hope that it brings.

The videos and Instagram Live are great to follow and meditate on the word while breathing life into the body, it's a workout in the physical and spiritual. As the Lord's people, we need to stay connected to the word, and each other and find practical ways of well-being. Free and Fit have offered a lifeline to help in the strangest of times bring hope and life.”

Matt Spector (London regular attendee)

Appendix 1.4 Responses to Research Questions in context to the case study and curriculum from industry specialists in sports ministry

Manny Maldano FCA & MBCY

Why do you think Churches and Ministries separate the concepts of Faith & Fitness?

A. “They may compartmentalize the two. God cares about the whole person. “

How do you see these concepts at work together in your own Ministry?

A. “I think FCA puts a huge focus on the spiritual side because the focus has been on the fitness side in sport.

However, I think we are coming to a place of balance where you can't have one without the other to have a ministry that focuses on engaging, equipping and empowering coaches and athletes in a transformational way.”

Where do you see examples of the two practices of Faith and Fitness in action together?

A. “Some examples are training coaches and athletes to begin their practices and end with it as a cool down. Other ways to focus on fitness is to get them to do it without them even knowing that they're doing it around playing the game that they love.”

What can we do as a Faith and Fitness community to extend the invitation for these two concepts to be used by individuals as a Spiritual Discipline as one?

A. “We can model what this looks like for them. Some people need to see this love out from others that are most passionate about it as a way of introducing into their spiritual formation.”

When may the opportunity arise for groups to bring the concepts of Faith and Fitness together in community?

A. “When people that are passionate about it begin to lead in these spaces by mobilizing others to see the value in it.”

George McGovern Athletes in Action, Chaplain to New York Yankees / New York Giants

Why do you think churches and ministries separate the concepts of faith & fitness?

A. “Many Christians see a solid line separating one’s faith from the rest of his life (including the physical area). These Christians don’t see a connection or correlation between the physical & the spiritual dimensions.”

How do you see these concepts at work together in your own ministry?

A. “The Bible teaches that God is lord of all areas of life. He made man as an embodied, spirit & so we are to care as much for our bodies as we care for our souls.”

Where do you see examples of the two practices of faith and fitness in action together?

A. “In organizations such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletes in Actions and other sports ministry organizations among others.”

What can we do as a faith and fitness community to extend the invitation for these two concepts to be used by individuals as a spiritual discipline as one?

A. “Teach to many people the scriptural teaching that man is but a steward, a caretaker of his God-given body.”

When may the opportunity arise for groups to bring the concepts of faith and fitness together in community?

A. “Senior citizen centers, day care centers and retreat centers or Christian camps if they’ll allow you.

Jeffrey Deygoo - Ex MBCY Player and now MBCY Coach

Why do you think Churches and Ministries separate the concepts of Faith & Fitness?

A. “I don’t know that I agree with this 100%. I think the idea of fitness isn’t touched on due to the fear of body shaming. I think in today’s culture it’s difficult to have an opinion or give advice without coming across as judgmental.”

How do you see these concepts at work together in your own Ministry?

A. “Besides MBCY these are two separate concepts in my life. I used to run a group with Jason Marchena about 10 years ago to try and get adults in the community/ church more active, but we were young at the time and had very limited resources so unfortunately we weren’t able to continue it, but we did receive a lot of positive feedback.”

Where do you see examples of the two practices of Faith and Fitness in action together?

A. “I can't think of anything specifically which caters to/targets adults, but there are many churches which provide sports activities for the youth. One example is MBCY as well as Evergreen Church in Brooklyn ''.

What can we do as a Faith and Fitness community to extend the invitation for these two concepts to be used by individuals as a Spiritual Discipline as one?

A. “I feel that providing a safe, non-judgmental place for people to come and work out (such as a school gym) would help as many people are intimidated by commercial gyms or don’t understand how to properly use the equipment and are too shy to ask. The problem that I find with black and brown communities comes down to nutrition as you know that is 70% of the battle. The reality is that it is cheaper to buy junk food sometimes than it is the healthy stuff. Nutritional education as well as health education (link between obesity and disease processes) needs to be the center of any type of program which is centered on being physically fit.”

When may the opportunity arise for groups to bring the concepts of Faith and Fitness together in community?

A. “I think the church needs to take more responsibility. They focus on the mind and soul but neglect the body, when all three are intimately connected. We have youth groups and prayer groups, but never fitness groups.”

Frank Reynoso Chaplain in New York City, Pastor to Boom Church Florida and Fellowship of Christian Athletes in NY & NE

Why do you think Churches and Ministries separate the concepts of Faith & Fitness?

A. “I think because we talk a lot about spiritual things, like the heart and issues and when we think about natural things it is like feeding the poor, etc.”

How do you see these concepts at work together in your own Ministry?

A. “I think fitness is a need that we have to live longer, but people look at it as a sport and that it is solely entertainment”.

Where do you see examples of the two practices of Faith and Fitness in action together?

A.” In the Bible in First Timothy 4:8 it says fitness has some value. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” (1 Timothy‬ 4:8‬ AMP‬‬).”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

What can we do as a Faith and Fitness community to extend the invitation for these two concepts to be used by individuals as a Spiritual Discipline as one?

A. “Fitness can be a part of God's healing plan for some individuals. It is a Discipline”.

When may the opportunity arise for groups to bring the concepts of Faith and Fitness together in community?

A.” Sport is big entertainment, on some of those events when we talk about who is the best, what is the road that was traveled for them to be the best. How much Money do these athletes make, how many people are employed because of sport? Those are all good times to talk about Biblical principles.”

Jason Macheda MBCY Sports

Why do you think Churches and Ministries separate the concepts of Faith & Fitness?

“Not sure why, scripture is filled with athletic references, running the race, endurance, etc. fitness is a great concept of how our faith walk should be. “

How do you see these concepts at work together in your own Ministry?

“It's amazing to see the development of people using the medium of sport. The disciple needed in fitness and athletics is so easy to translate and teach in correlation to our faith walk. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 15:50 speaking specifically about commitment to our Lord fully for the commitment will not be in vain. Same concept with fitness and athletics. Times will be tough but stand firm! “

Where do you see examples of the two practices of Faith and Fitness in action together?

“Specifically, in MBCY Athletics it’s the growth of skill in people during our seasons. The same can be said about their faith or growth in Christ. You can see how remaining committed to this community through sports helps people grow as leaders and it's all glory to God and allow us to use his scripture to build leaders. “

What can we do as a Faith and Fitness community to extend the invitation for these two concepts to be used by individuals as a Spiritual Discipline as one?

“Do not think of it as two separate entities but as one. Each can work as one to supplement each other. The discipline needed to run every day is the discipline needed to read scripture every day. Using these concepts together can spark immense growth in the explanation of a spiritual life!”

When may the opportunity arise for groups to bring the concepts of Faith and Fitness together in community?

“Anytime there is an opportunity to use athletics or fitness as a means but not an end is an opportunity to spread the gospel. These concepts go so well together that we need to use every moment we can to further the kingdom. The athletics aspect of MBCY is what draws our people to the building hut in the end we allow God to spark the hearts. So again, a continuous use of the interest of people in sports to take the opportunity to spread the Gospel. “

Bibliography of Different Texts

Contemplative Texts

Block, P. (2008). Community: The structure of belonging. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Brown, Brene, “Atlas of the Heart”, Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, 2021, Penguin Random House.

Claiborne, Shane, et al, (2010), “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” Zondervan Publishing

Foster, R. J. (1988). Celebration of discipline: The path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper & Row

Kernon. Anne Kertz, (2020), “Spiritual Practices for the Brain - Caring for the Mind, Body and Spirit,” Loyola Press

Roeder, Antoinette Vouden., “To Name or Not to Name: The Power of Naming in the Spiritual Direction Process”, 1994, Spiritual Direction International.

Ronnevik, Gretchen, (2021), “Ragged: Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted” Paperback – 1517 Publishing

Rohr et al, (2006), “Richard Roher and Friends, Contemplation in Action”, 2006, Crossroad Publishing

Scazzero, P. (2006). “Emotionally healthy spirituality: unleash a revolution in your life in Christ.” Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson.

Wigner, Dann, (2018), “Just Begin: A Sourcebook of Spiritual Practices Paperback” – Illustrated, October 17, 2018, Church House Publishing

Foundational Religious Sports Texts/Articles

Chew, Timothy (2015), “Free and Fit London”, Church of England London Diocese Article. Accessed 2021: Source: Accessed Hoboken New Jersey

Cheux, Timothy, (2020), Free and Fit NYC, Blog Posts and Story Section of Website. Accessed 2021: Source: Accessed Hoboken New Jersey

Cheux, Timothy, (2021), Free and Fit NYC Youtube Channel, About Us Section of YouTube Channel. Accessed: 2021 Source: Accessed: Hoboken New Jersey

Cheux, Timothy, (2022), Free and Fit NYC Instagram, Live Posts and Story Section of Social Media Profile. Accessed 2022: Source: Accessed Hoboken New Jersey

Donnelly, Doris (1993), Spiritual Fitness - Everyday Exercises for Body and Soul, Harper San Francisco.

Driskell, Joseph D., (1999), Protestant Spiritual Exercises - Theology, History and Practice, Morehouse Publishing.

Murray D Finck (2005), Stretch and Pray: A Daily Discipline for Physical and Spiritual Wellness, Healthy Leaders and Healthy Lives, Augsburg Books.

Liturgical / Worship Texts


Barrington Ward, Simon, (2011), A way to Contemplation “The Jesus Prayer”, Pauline Books and Media Boston

Bible You Version App, (2022), You Version Bible Phone Application. Accessed 2021: Source: Accessed Hoboken New Jersey

Borg, Marcus, and Wright, N.T. (2007), “The Meaning of Jesus”, San Francisco: Harper One.

Carroll, John, (2006), sited in “Contemplation in Action”, produced by Richard Rohr, The Crossroad Publishing Company

Frameology (2015), “Hillsong NYC the Church on Millennials Hilltop,” Frameology website. Accessed December 2020: Article link here:

Gumble, Nicky, (2015), “Why Jesus - 5 Day Daily Devotional Reading Plan”, “You Version” Bible App, Alpha International Publishing.

Moroney, Dr. Rev. Kevin, (2020), “Christian Worship - Purpose Theology Maxims, Lecture slides from an Introduction to Christian Worship

New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, (2022), Good News for Everyone! Good News for Everyone! Publishing.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Book of Worship, (2006), Originally published: 2006, Author: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Psalms: 150, No. of Hymns: 654, Service music: 14 (10 Communion settings, one for Service of the Word, three for the Divine Office).

The New Jerusalem Bible, (1989), The Complete Text of the Ancient Canon of the Scriptures, Standard Version, First Doubleday Edition.

The (Online) Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, (2022), Together with The Psalter or Psalms of David According to the use of The Episcopal Church, The Church Hymnal Corporation, New York

The Oxford Companion to the Book of Common Prayer, (2010), Publisher: Oxford University Press, Print Publication Date: 2010, Print ISBN-13: 9780198606536, Published online: 2010, Current Online Version: 2010.

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, (2016), The United Methodist Publishing House

Nashville, Tennessee.

Saint Augustine's Prayer Book (Newly Revised Edition), (1967), Leatherbound, David Cobb & Derek Olsen, published by Church Publishing.

United Methodist Church ASK Ministry (2016), Title of Article “Is communion simply a ritual of remembrance”, UMC Ministries. Accessed December 2020: Article link here: Is communion simply a ritual of remembrance? | The United Methodist Church (

UK Sport & Spirituality Research


Hill, J.S, Vincent, J. and Curtner-Smith, M (2014), ‘The worldwide diffusion of football: Temporal and spatial perspectives. Global Sport Business Journal, 2 (2): 1-27. Available at:

Ladd, T., and Mathisen, J.A. (1999), Muscular Christianity: Evangelical Protestants and the Development of American Sports, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books.

Mangan, J.A. (1981), Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School, London, Frank Cass.

McLeod, H. (2012), ‘Sport and Religion in England, c1790-1914’ in N J Watson and A Parker (Eds.), Sports and Christianity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, London, Routledge, pp.112-130. “– Frank Press. Pp 1 – 12.

Naughright, J and Chandler, T, L, (1999), “Making Men, Rugby and Masculine Identity”, Frank Press, London, Portland, O.

Neddam, F. (2004), ‘Constructing masculinities under Thomas Arnold of Rugby (1828-1842): gender, educational policy and school life in early-Victorian public school’, Gender and Education, 16 (3): 303-326.

Parker, A., and Weir, J.S. (2012a), ‘Sport, Spirituality and Protestantism: A historical overview’, Theology, 115 (4): 253-265.

Parker, A., and Weir, J.S. (2012b), ‘Sport, Spirituality and Religion: Muscular Christianity in the Modern Age’, The Bible in Transmission, Spring, pp.17-19.

Watson, N, Friend, S, (2005), “The Development of Muscular Christianity in Victorian Britain and Beyond”, Journal of Religion & Society Volume 7.

Background Reading

Hoffman, S.J. (2010), Good Game: Christianity and the culture of sports, Baylor, TX, Baylor University Press.

Krattenmaker, T. (2010), Onward Christian Athletes: Turning ballparks into pulpits and players into preachers, New York, Rowman, and Littlefield.

Ignatian Spirituality Texts / Articles

Ignatius of Loyola: From Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018: JULY 31: IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Priest, 1556 via Website. Accessed:

Hoboken, New Jersey. December 2nd. 2021

Website used:

Ignatian Spirituality Website, Accessed: Hoboken, New Jersey. December 2nd. 2021

Website used:

Research Methodology Core Text

Moschella. Mary Clark, Whillhauk, Susan, “Qualitative Research in Theological Education - Pedagogy in Practice”, (2018), SCM Press.

UK Football, Faith and Fitness Research


Comfort, A. (2002), ‘Football’s a beautiful game, not a religion’, Guardian, 27th October. Available at:

Gamble, R., Hill, D.M. and Parker, A. (2013), “Revs and Psychos’: Impact and interaction of sport chaplains and sport psychologists within English Premiership Soccer, The Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 25 (2): 249-264

Hargreaves, J. (1986), Sport, Power and Culture, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Hoffman, S.J. (2010), ‘Whatever Happened to Play?’ Christianity Today, February, pp.21-25.

Hoffman, S.J. (2010), Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sports, Baylor, TX, Baylor University Press. (Chapter 9).

Hoffman, S.J. (2011), ‘Prayers Out of Bounds’, in J. Parry, M. Nesti, and N.J. Watson, (Eds.), Theology, Ethics and Transcendence in Sports, London, Routledge, pp. 35-63. Day 3: 10th February 2016 15

Holt, R. (1989), Sport and the British: A Modern History, Oxford, Oxford University Press. (Chapter 3).

Krattenmaker, T. (2010), Onward Christian Athletes: Turning ballparks into pulpits and players into preachers, New York, Roman and Littlefield.

Krattenmaker, T. (2010), Onward Christian Athletes: Turning ballparks into pulpits and players into preachers, New York, Roman and Littlefield. (Chapter 9).

Ladd, T., and Mathisen, J.A. (1999), Muscular Christianity: Evangelical Protestants and the Development of American Sports, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books (Chapters 1-4).

McGuire, B, Cooper, W, and Park, M. (2006), ‘Pastoral Care, Spirituality and Physical Education’, Pastoral Care, December, pp.13-19.

Mieth, D. (2006), ‘Towards an ethic of sport in contemporary culture’, in Pontificum Concilium pro Laicis, The World of Sport Today: A Field of Christian Mission, Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, pp.23-43.

Black, I , Jones, O and Robert Booth, (2015) ‘Qatar promises to reform labour laws after outcry over ‘World Cup slaves’’, The Guardian, 15 May 2014. The full John Oliver clip can be seen here: https://www.

"The Olympic Summer Games" (PDF). International Olympic Committee. October 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2015.

Watson, N.J. (2007), ‘Muscular Christianity in the Modern Age: Winning for Christ or Playing for Glory? in J. Parry, S. Robinson, N.J. Watson and M. Nesti, (Eds.) Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction, London, Routledge, pp.80-94.

Watson, N, J, Weir, S and Friend S, (2005), “The Development of Muscular Christianity in Victorian Britain and Beyond”, in: Journal of Religion and Society, 7 (2005) 1, pp.1-25

Watson, N.J. and Parker, A. (2013), Sports and Christianity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, London, Routledge.

Watson, N.J. and Parker, A. (2014), Sport and the Christian Religion: A Systematic Review of Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Press.

Watson, N.J. (2007), ‘Muscular Christianity in the Modern Age: Winning for Christ or Playing for Glory? in J. Parry, S. Robinson, N.J. Watson and M. Nesti, (Eds.) Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction, London, Routledge, pp.80-94.

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