We knew the 2012 Games were about much more than winning gold. The wider aim was about inspiring change and leaving a legacy in people's lives and communities. Local churches had the opportunity to contribute to this through outreach events, service and hospitality. So how did we do?
The answer is the church saw the opportunity, ran with it, and then some more! Churches in the UK set a global record for their highest level of involvement with any Olympic Games in history! Thousands of churches put on community events. Large screen festivals were attended by over 1 million people - twice what was expected! There were Family Fun Days, children's clubs, street parties, quiz nights, community cafes and special church celebrations.It was the largest ever inter-church response in olympic history and undoubtedly showed churches at their best - serving their communities and the thousands of international visitors.
On the Olympic Torch Relay, churches served free refreshments on the streets and held special events, while 350 family members were accomodated for free, allowing them to attend their relatives' events. There were over 300 volunteer Games Pastors serving people, and The Salvation Army led teams giving out water to visitors and spectators.
Nottinghamshire joined in the party too, engaging with big screen events, quizzes and school talks all around the diocese, in Wilford, Hucknall, Newark, Mansfield, Southwell, Worksop and elsewhere.
Churches in Sutton Bonighton, Selston, Cotgrave and Huthwaite held festivals and special holiday clubs, and many families took the opportunity to meet the neighbours by inviting them round to watch the ceremonies and events.
So now the party is over, what are we left with?
Hopefully the church is encouraged by its ability to put on outreach events and engage with culturally relevant topics. If we work together and prepare well, why can't this be the norm??
We also saw brilliant partnerships forged with service providers and other community groups. Now that they know the church can be trusted and worked with, this has potential to lead to many exciting openings.
Following the wonderful feast that 2012 was, sport is more on the agenda of the country than ever before, and churches are hopefully more aware of the power of sport to bring people together, further the Kingdom and provide a platform for the Gospel. But it doesn't end there! Let's make the most of the Olympic legacy in our communities. Check out what events the Ministry of Sport has planned, or get in touch with Sport Ambassador Rob Taylor for help developing your own vision for community outreach.