A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
Running a Good Race
With the Olympics coming to the UK in 2012, why not use the opportunity to invigorate the life of your Church, Circuit or District? Here are some ideas:
We might use the Olympic idea as’training’ for our own folk – hence, for example, reintroduce class meetings = training sessions. These could be weekly for the duration of Lent (or a similar period, maybe Easter to Pentecost) using a pattern on the lines of:
- A Diet for Training: The importance of regular prayer and Bible Study
- The Sprint - plan and carry out one ‘quick’ one-off outreach event.
- The High Jump - set the congregation a challenge which will stretch their discipleship e.g. Invite a friend to a special event or raise an ambitious sum for a Christian charity or encourage every single member to do a shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse or persuade the whole congregation to come to a weekly fellowship meeting or challenge every member of the congregation to pray during a time of open prayer (that’s a gold medal winner!).
- The Triathlon - three events within a month - something for young families, something for older outsiders, something for the whole church family and friends to enjoy.
- The Marathon - 24/7 prayer throughout the Circuit or even District. (I think we should re-launch ‘Pray Without Ceasing’ for ever!)
I wonder if we could pick up the idea that the original Olympics in Greece had a religious significance and develop a show picking up the concept of ‘God’ and what people think about and are prepared to do for their god, working though Druidism, paganism, animistic belief, Roman and Greek Mythology, Judaism, Christianity - Celtic, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, secularism, consumerism, atheism - past, present and into the future.
This could be a musical production, an art exhibition, a multimedia presentation; something prepared in its entirety by each church in your Circuit presenting one ‘chapter’ - a bit like a pageant but using varied media. It would take some doing but could be effective.
You could always invite any Christian athletes to come and speak briefly, or how about:
- Have a welcome home reception (or a special send off) for the athletes from your District. You could give them each a Bible to take with them.
- Find out if there are any Methodists among the athletes and pray for them and for their home countries and churches.
- Possibly offer brief ‘away breaks’ to any of the Olympic competitors who need to take a short holiday before returning to their homes.
- Run an Olympic Torch through your District, relay style, and give away Gospels and offer to pray with anyone who asks why.
- Open up the church hall with loads of ‘challenges to be undertaken as a family’ - things like balancing a ball on a bat between two points; score five basket ball ‘baskets’; lying on your back and using your feet, transfer twenty balls from a box at your feet to a box behind your head; skip fifty times without stopping; crawl through a play tunnel pushing a football with your nose... etc. etc. Everybody has a go and each family accumulates a score. This could easily be developed into ‘Family Fun Olympics’ with a cream tea or BBQ to follow, possibly with a Christian band or music group, and maybe with a brief informal worship time afterwards. This one would probably work best in small communities with a sense of identity, but who knows…
- What about having a Wii Sports / Wii Fit tournament in each church and the next week the winners from each church come to a central event to compete against each other in the great ‘Circuit Wii-lympics?
- There is a craze among boys at the moment to meet up for tournaments at toy/model shops, to play endless games with cards and dice, based on mythical figurines - ogres and goblins and monsters and so on, which they paint in their own colours. You could then develop some ‘Olympian Superheroes’ game based on the Bible characters and using the Top Trumps method - hence Jehu gets top score for speed, Samson for strength, Moses and Abraham for marathon etc. The official games are expensive - kids can spend twenty quid a week at them, so that cuts lots of youngsters out.
- What about offering a prize to the church children’s group who can produce the best collage of the Games, including the Lord’s Prayer in as many languages represented at the Games as they can find? Or you could use the Grace, since that is shorter and would take less room?
- Or how about asking them to design an athletic kit for the Christian athlete on the same lines as Paul’s ‘Armour’?
- Promote Summer Kids’ Clubs based on the Olympic theme (there are several extant and Scripture Union will probably produce a new one too).
- Hold a big ‘Olympic Sports Day’ for kids. Challenge the teenagers to some ‘Marathon’ or ‘Pentathlon’ event - could be a prayer marathon, could be a Pentathlon based on prayer, an act of community service, a creative project, helping a charity and an act of service to the church.
- In your church or circuit arrange to have a big screen’ showing of the Olympics, and serve refreshments. Encourage discussion of the events; find out if any competitors are Christians and have some of their stories to give away.
Organise a marathon with walkers / runners from the churches, offering prayer and sharing the Gospel as they go. This could be largely a relay. People could walk / run any distance the felt they could offer. (I have run the race. I have finished the course...) Encourage your chapel to ‘twin’ with a congregation who are planning ‘hands on’ stuff with competitors and visitors to the Olympic Games. Pray for them and with them. After their effort offer them accommodation in your homes for a short ‘recoup break’ in your area. Where it would be useful, actually send volunteers to help these congregations.