When football and faith collide

Published 11th July 2024 by Jane Butler

As you might have guessed from last week’s Facebook live, I love sport, in particular football and F1 so it’s been quite a few days! When faith and football collide, that makes me very happy! My local Messy Church met on Sunday afternoon and we did the Olympic themed session, ‘Running the race’ from Get Messy! Vol. 1. We have a particularly sporty bunch, so they really enjoyed the physical challenges. During the celebration time we pondered on the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that support us in following Jesus. We also talked about being witnesses ourselves and it was great to be able to reference a couple of England footballers. Bukayo Saka said his faith in God helped him recover from penalty heartache in 2021 to triumph on Saturday night. Marc Guéhi, whose father is a pastor, has been seen kneeling in prayer on the pitch before kick-off.

Sport can be a great way to engage people at Messy Church. In fact, Lucy wrote a whole book on ‘Sports Fun for Messy Churches’. In his foreword, Mark Chester, Family Officer at Liverpool Football Club, says this,

‘But sport has a secret ingredient too. It’s something that, for many, is harder to identify, but it’s the best part of the recipe because it’s the element that makes our spirits soar. The secret ingredient is God. He has designed people for sport and designed sport for people – and as our bodies move and our hearts pump, he refreshes our souls.

Sport can be worship, and where better to enjoy the gift of sport than at Messy Church? We are united as families, all ages and all abilities moving together, talking together and, in doing so, worshipping together the God who designed us and created us.’

So, if your Messy Church is meeting this weekend ahead of the Euros final on Sunday evening, I urge you to embrace the football and not to try and compete with it!

Here are a few simple ideas you might like to incorporate,

  • Kicking a football dipped in paint over a large sheet of paper.
  • Design a Messy Church team flag or football kit – what does it look like to be part of ‘Team Jesus’?
  • Design a Messy Church medal or trophy.
  • Try turning football chants into praise chants, e.g. ‘You’re not singing anymore’ becomes ‘I’ll be singing evermore!’
  • Goal prayers – create an area on the floor/grass and cover it with targets. Write or draw topics for prayer on the targets and invite people to kick the ball to hit one of the targets. Invite everyone to briefly pray on that topic either out loud or silently.
  • Paper football prayers
  • Enjoy health eating snacks.

I’m sure you and those who come to your Messy Churches will have some other great ideas – do share them with us and we love to see your photos too! Email us at messychurch@brf.org.uk or tag us on social media @messychurchBRF.

P.S. It’s coming home!

Jane Butler
Messy Church Training & Development Lead

Check out the Messy Olympics ‘Running the race’ available to download now, or check out ‘Sports fun for Messy Churches’ by Lucy Moore.

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