27 May 2010
God of wonders and the World Cup
Churches around the country are going football crazy and erecting huge TV screens in their buildings and halls to enable people to watch and enjoy the FIFA World Cup 2010, which kicks off next month in South Africa.
As communities begin to show their patriotic side, St George's flags will be hoisted in the churches' hallways. The idea is spreading quickly as the Bigger Match website encourages Christian ministries to embrace football fever and use their family friendly status to show games on a big screen.
With advice on legal issues such as copyright and TV licensing which may crop up while hosting the event, the website also contains resources about how to use the opportunity for outreach to non church-goers.
Some churches have even relaxed regular rules to accommodate and welcome newcomers in their midst, for example the consumption of alcohol on the premises. Queens Road Church in Wimbledon will have a BBQ along with the screening of the first match, and is one of those churches making an exception of their normal rules to allow beer on the premises.
Senior Pastor, Phil Moore explains: "Paul told the Corinthians to decide what mattered most to them - keeping their man-made rules or connecting with the lost. In the light of his teaching, it seemed an easy choice to make."
Hosting a screening has the emphasis on making people feel welcome that may not otherwise grace the door of the church.
In some churches other preparations include evangelistic outreach events, local football matches for young people running parallel to the main tournaments and many plan to celebrate the end of the world cup with a fun day in July, whatever place England finishes.
St Peter's church in Hextable, Kent is screening most of the England matches. Eileen Kattenhorn, a church member said: " We wanted to reach out to the community, so this is the opportunity to share together in common interest."
The Church of England has come up with three prayers for the England team. The trinity of prayers were written by the Bishop of Croydon Rev Nick Baines and intercede for all those involved in the world cup event, for the host nation (South Africa) and for those who are not interested in football fever.