Ten ways that Christians can get involved in major sports events

As we saw from all the mission and ministry that happened around the 2022 Commonwealth Games, major sporting events are a huge opportunity for individual Christians and churches to get involved.

Here are ten ways to prepare and join in when a major sporting event happens near you:

  1. Look ahead - find out what major sporting events are happening in your area in the next five years and make enquiries with the diocesan office about whether any Christian working groups have been set up to plan ministry and mission around it. The Government’s UK Sport web pages are a good starting point.
  2. Volunteer - as we've seen from the Commonwealth Games, prayer is central to Christian ministry around any big event, and anyone can pray. Offer your time to get involved in prayer meetings and services. You don’t need to wait for your vicar or church to lead the way on this – you can go ahead and volunteer under your own steam!
  3. If you're a chaplain, or would like to be, again, offer your time to the working group and ask about what training is available. It will help speed things up if you have an up-to-date DBS check. 
  4. Support formal church services - there could be several big church services organised at cathedrals and other churches during the event. Support them and invite others to go along too. It helps to gather momentum and inspiration around the Christian mission that will be happening.
  5. Spread the word - encourage other Christians in your church to volunteer alongside you - it will make it even more fun to get involved with your church family!
  6. Be open – depending on what you have volunteered for, you may well be ministering alongside Christians from lots of different denominations and traditions. This can be a great blessing and something to enjoy. Be open to the fact that they may worship, pray and minister a little differently to you, but rejoice in your common desire to share the love of Jesus.
  7. Research whether the location of your church will be along any significant routes to and from the event(s). Will there be a lot of people passing by? If so, consider having the church open during the event so that people can pop in for refreshments, pastoral support, a peaceful space, prayer, or to light a candle if they want to. Churches can be there for anyone with hospitality and comfort.
  8. Share whatever you’re doing on your social media channels and celebrate the ways in which you see the Holy Spirit moving, touching lives and showing new people what God’s love is like.
  9. Can your church collectively support campaigns against human trafficking, a scourge which sadly follows major sporting events around the world?
  10. Think about what happens after the event when crowds are gone and the atmosphere changes. Make space for reflection, especially if you or your church has been heavily involved. Has the experience changed you, or someone else in your church? Have new paths for vocations opened, or new relationships with other Christian denominations been strengthened? Keep these reflections in mind as your Christian pilgrimage unfolds, asking God to lead you on.

(Tips based on a conversation with Robert Mountford, Ecumenical Officer for Birmingham, the Black Country and Staffordshire)