The FIFA Football World Cup starts on November 21st 2022, hosted by Qatar. The Final is set to be at 3pm (UK time, 6pm Qatar time) on Sunday 18th Dec 2022, the week before Christmas Day!
On the 18th December, Churches often hold Carol Services in the afternoon or evening, and this could still be possible if you choose the time carefully…but what if there are penalties?! It may be best to avoid that day altogether and host a carol service on Saturday 17th instead.
Despite this clash of dates, football and faith don’t have to be at odds with one another, ‘whether you love it or not, there’s no escaping the fact that football and the Church have a conjoined heritage. Avid footy fans may well know that several Premier League football clubs of today started up as parish church football teams, set up for the health and wellbeing of those local communities. They were established to have a positive impact, especially in communities where poverty and deprivation hindered any kind of thriving.
So Christian evangelism, outreach and social action through football is not exactly a new idea, and there’s a growing movement that is reclaiming it as a valuable mission tool today. What’s more, it isn’t only for the super fit or even for the footy fanatic’. (Extract from Church Support Hub | Reaching families through football – use this link to read more)
Here are just a few ideas for how you could use the World Cup as a missional tool this Advent and Christmas:
- Watch – watch the game and join with others at your local sports club, pub, or invite neighbours to your home. Offer to lead some carols, perhaps sharing a sport and faith testimony after the game, with an invitation to Christmas Services or to explore faith through sessions such as Alpha after Christmas.
- Screen – Screen the game in Church with refreshments. Look for guidance here for Showing Television or Films in Church – CCLI. Again, offer an invitation to something more after the screening.
- School – Why not host a Christmas Sports Day instead of your regular collective worship? The organisation KICK work in schools regularly weaving together a range of sport and Christian values. see more on the website: Who we are | Kick
- Download and try out this pre-prepared Football Nativity called ‘Greatest of All Time’. There are two versions to choose from depending on how many narrators you have.
- Socialise – Host a Sports Quiz and Carols at an alternative time to the Final. Resources for Christian Sports Quizzes can be downloaded from Christians in Sport, just here: The Sports Quiz (christiansinsport.org.uk)
- Go – Host a Christmas-themed, Sports Mission event in a public place such as a park, recreational ground, after school event, sports club. You could organise a simple football game and multisports, interweaving Advent and Christmas themes into the activities rather than as a slot at the end. Here are some ideas of how to get started, using the World Cup as a catalyst to start something regular: Church Support Hub | How to get started. There are plenty of para church sports organisations to help you. Read this article for some advice about sports mission in public places Church Support Hub | Sports mission in public spaces
- Sports Chaplaincy – There are many Sports Clubs and Gyms both professional and grassroots that have Sports Chaplains. Talk to Sports Chaplaincy UK to see if there are Sports Chaplains serving in a club near your church and find out how they are serving their clubs this Christmas. How might you support their ministry as Church, perhaps invite them to share more about what they do at one of your Advent or Christmas coffee mornings or meals. You might see there is gap in your areas and sense God’s call to go and be with a particular community of sport. See more atSports Chaplaincy UK | Serving the community of sport
For more information about this year’s Church of England Advent and Christmas resources follow this link: Advent and Christmas resources | The Church of England
There’s more suggestions, resources and a list of key World Cup fixtures on the Ambassadors Football website just here.