Olympic Ministry - there are some alarms

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Published 19 January 2012
There are three well established forms of Christian ministry associated with an Olympic Games and these three aspects of outreach and pastoral care have been highlighted in the Christian community's mind since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where they captured the imagination of Christians with effective publicity.

These first of these is the Christian Chapel program within the Olympic Village which is an aspect of the Multi-Faith Centre. Each of the world's major religious groups have their own area in the Multi-Faith Centre and Christians have traditionally been active in their Olympic Village Ministry.

The second is that of former Olympians who are Christians and trained in sports ministry evangelism and who have a welcome invitation by current Olympians to run evangelistic outreaches of various forms. The Lay Witnesses for Christ International (LWFCI) led by Dr Sam and Sharon Mings have a distinguished reputation within the Olympic family in this area of Olympic Ministry.

The third is that of the city's combined churches outreach "More than Gold" that also includes the thousands upon thousands of Christian young people from around the world who converge upon an Olympic city for city evangelism – for example, YWAM (Youth With a Mission).

Alarm is being raised by those who have experienced many Olympic Ministry outreaches of these three arenas of Christian outreach, as to the post Olympic strategy to connect with those young and old have decided to place their trust in Jesus and to follow Christ for their philosophy of life.

There are some Christian congregations in all Olympic cities who have engaged in training courses for their city's "big event" but on the whole, what happens is that the "big event" happens, the evangelism is a massive splash, thousands respond to the Gospel message, yet only some end up within a Christian congregation.

Whatever happens between the excitement of the Olympic "big event" and the hum drum of life after the Olympics is "the matter at hand" for the Christian community and how to best connect with those people who have made a commitment to Christ.

London's Olympic Christian Community have done their research and it seems that Christian leaders are aware of this traditional issue, hence the title of this article - "Olympic Ministry - alarm over September 2012".

If anything, this is the critical number – September 2012. It seems as though London's Christian community involved in Olympic outreach have this contingency as a major component of their thinking.

Reports are now coming across my desk that indicate this vital aspect of every Olympic city's "Christian outreach" experience is being addressed seriously.

These Christian leaders are realising that in the past, the Christian community of an Olympic host city "drops in exhaustion" as the Closing Ceremony has its final curtain call.

In essence, for the London Christian community, that's when the real work begins.

Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.

Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html

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