Dear Friends,

The country is about to catch Football Fever with the World Cup starting on 11th June for a month. I don’t know which side you fall-in – those who will find it all-absorbing or those who’ll simply ignore it. However, in my experience the majority of church members tend to fall into the latter category and if that’s you, the question I would ask is, what would need to happen to make you take an interest in football ?

You must be joking! No chance! However, my guess is that the reason you’re not interested would include at least some of, if not all, the following:

  • I just don’t like football
  • I don’t see the point in it
  • I find it boring
  • People lose their sense of proportion, they become obsessed
  • I’ve better things to do with my time
  • It’s not important
  • It promotes violence
  • It’s unhealthy

The sobering thought and the point of the question is that for many people they could make these statements about religion or church!

And hence my question – if you can think of what would make you take an interest in football, then perhaps that could be part of the answer to the fundamental question, what will make other people take an interest in Jesus Christ and His Church.

Personally, I and those of us in the first category who enjoy football will have to try and put ourselves into your position. However, if I do this, it’s fairly easy to come up with some possible answers:

  • If someone you know is playing
  • If someone you know of & like (eg a celebrity) is playing
  • If you identify with a team that’s playing
  • If you could see the point in it
  • If you played yourself
  • If the result mattered or would make a difference (to you!); eg if you would receive £50,000 if your team won a match!
  • If you were watching with others; eg, friends
  • If football supporters were like you
  • If it didn’t take so long (eg let’s just have the high-lights)

When we think of what Jesus Christ and His Church stands for. When we think of the big questions of life, what’s it all about? what’s the point? have we eternity before us ? does God really care about me ? am I going to fulfil my destiny? what is my destiny ? one would have thought that people should easily see the point in Christianity and coming to church. However, I would have to know something or think about something for it to affect my behaviour.

How then do we get people to think about something they don’t like (or think they won’t like!) or about something they think is pointless? How do we help people to find out the truth and relevance of the Christian faith? How do we help people to come and try church?

  • It’s certainly easier to come to church with someone you know rather than by yourself.
  • It’s certainly better to pick one of the many churches to be your church rather than try to learn about Christianity or be a Christian by yourself; ie, without identifying with a particular church.
  • We see the point of meeting with our friends. Surely there is a point in meeting God together with some of His friends.
  • It’s when we don’t know people or think they have a conflict with us that we feel they’re different to us. When we get to know them, we find they’re not so different after all.

The above starts you off, but you get the idea … !

Let us use the World Cup over the next month or so as an opportunity to think seriously about this:

  • what would need to happen to make you take an interest in football ? and
  • what could we then learn from this about how we could help other people become interested in Jesus Christ and His Church?

The challenge for the church is to bring other people into our enthusiasm for Jesus Christ. However, the problem often is that our spiritual life has grown cold and then it’s not really surprising if we don’t attract the interest of others. The prerequisite is for us to be set-on fire. If we’re not then that’s the first requirement – to re-engender our enthusiasm, to pray for God to breathe on us and to fan our lukewarm coals back into flame. Then, almost without realising it, we can ignite others with our passion for what really matters in life – Jesus Christ (God Himself) and His Kingdom.

Please do prayerfully reflect upon this over the next few weeks and I do wish all of you a very pleasant World Cup – whether you’re enjoying and watching the football or whether you’re alternatively enjoying the space and quiet at those certain times when there’s a general lack of people and traffic around!