“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
Chauncey LaBrie serves at the Calvary Worship Center as the prison and inner-city outreach pastor.
As leaders with huge hearts for their city, Chauncey and his wife, Jen, partnered with Catalyst Funding directors, Sarah Steffensen and Cory Ard, to help make their vision for WeighOut and increasing missional impact a reality.
Two particular WeighOut ministries are creating a dynamic difference for people in Colorado Springs by connecting people and giving communities a voice and a safe space to have fun and care for one another.
How did Kings of the Courts get started?
I came from California. I’d been in the Springs six months when I decided I needed to do something to get involved in the community. I wanted to engage, so I asked myself, ‘How do I get to know a large amount of people in a short amount of time?’
Basketball. People love basketball in this city. Maybe it’s because we go through a winter season where outdoor activities are limited.
As we began to work more closely with the schools and young men in the community, however, I learned that there’s a noticeable lack of affordable athletic programs in the community.
Growing up in California, we had community centers and parks with games and activities. We had places to go for free. Here, a lot of younger guys were telling me that the YMCA charges and they can’t afford that. The gyms charge—a lot—in order to get the complete package where you can play basketball and swim.
There aren’t many places for young community members to go and enjoy athletics without expensive equipment or paying some kind of membership fee.
So God put it on my heart to build a relationship with a local school, and the opportunity arose for us to suggest a collaborative program with the school using their basketball court.
What would you say is at the core of Kings of the Courts?
The heart of this ministry is building healthy relationships.
It’s connecting me with a lot of the young men in the Springs. By getting to know people in the community, we get a chance to listen to city’s heartbeat.
We get a lot of high school basketball players, during the off season, who use this as an opportunity to keep their skills sharp. We get college students or working young adults.
Before we start each evening, we open in prayer. That gets everyone acclimated to the fact that we’re a Christian organization providing this opportunity. After that, we give a brief motivational speech that sets the tone for the evening.
This is a vital starting point for us. If you don’t hear about the problems that community members hold close to their hearts, then how will you show them the ways God brings solutions to those problems?
On the basketball court, I hear the good and bad news. I hear what’s lacking and take those things to the Lord and the church. Then we can enter into a discussion about how we can best serve our community.
Where do guys go if they’re interested in learning more about God?
In the last few months, we’ve started having a few guys from Kings of the Court decide to check out our life-skills and Bible discussion group called the HUB.
I believe it’s a bit of a shock for them when they first set foot in HUB because there’s all different ages, different cultures, different backgrounds and different races. Last year, over 100 men passed through our doors. Our youngest member was 15 when he first started coming, and our oldest is 63. We’re all fellowshipping together in unity, and it’s a powerful thing to witness.
Then as we go through passages of the Bible, we discuss how we can implement the Word of God into our lives. We want to be conscious of God in our interactions with people, employers or families.
We want men to see how God’s purpose for them is to be leaders in our communities, homes and workplaces.
The new guys have said, “Hey, I didn’t really know what this was gonna be about, but it’s really encouraging.”
I believe God is really building true community through Kings of the Court and the HUB. He’s making community leaders and mentors for his kingdom, a solid brotherhood.
God is preparing the way for our neighborhoods, businesses and city to change.