Whether you’re excited about the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics or not (and I speak as someone so un-athletic that the mere sight of a running track induces queasiness), there’s no doubt that the Games will be the most talked-about event of the summer.
Up to 800,000 people are expected to travel through London on the busiest day of the Games and with 20 official Olympic sites across the UK, London is just the beginning. The Olympic torch will pass through the hands of 8,000 people in a thousand communities, covering nearly all of the UK.* Why does this matter? Well, aside from having major traffic implications, it also presents the UK church with a glaring opportunity.
The Olympics give us all an opportunity to show generosity and hospitality, kindness and community. Traditionally these qualities are already found in church environments; but the Olympics is a golden ticket to take church to the streets. More Than Gold is the initiative founded to mobilise the church throughout the Olympics; to enable them to reach out to the community in areas of Outreach, Service and Hospitality, and show them something of Jesus’ love.
If you’re into the creative arts, you can volunteer your drama, vocal or art skills to a local church outreach event. Use your football and rugby skills to set up a sports holiday club for kids. If hospitality is your gifting, you could consider hosting an Athlete’s family, saving them the astronomical cost of accommodation throughout the Games period. There’s also the opportunity to become a Games Pastor: essentially assisting visitors with practical advice and support at several key transport terminals and Games venues.
If you can hand out free cups of water or point someone in the direction of the nearest toilet, you can represent Jesus in your community this summer. And that's great news for those of us who can't tell our athletics from our elbow.
Visit the More Than Gold website for resources and application forms.
How are you planning on reaching out in your community during the Games this year? Do you think initiatives like More Than Gold will make a lasting difference in your town? Let us know in the comments.
*Figures and image courtesy of More Than Gold.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.