How a Church can Partner its Football Club
Baptist churches have been encouraged to team up with their local football clubs - by someone who has visited thousands of hospital patients on behalf of Norwich City.
Duncan MacInnes (second left) is the administrator at Witard Road Baptist Church in Norwich, and for the past decade has been volunteering for the local football club in a scheme he set up called Canaries in the Community.
The scheme involves him visiting the local 1,000 bed hospital each week to show patients highlights of the latest NCFC games on his laptop at their bedside and chat to them about football, predominantly to the children's wards.
There he hands out football stickers, free tickets to reserve games, signed player 'Get Well Soon' cards and match day programmes.
He said the scheme is not overtly Christian - Duncan does not pray with patients, for instance - but it chimes with Jesus' teaching.
'There is a time to evangelise and there is a time to make disciples,' he explained, 'but there is also a time to just help. Jesus asks us to help people.
'That's what this is all about - and it's often with people who are upset or scared.
'The feedback I get from parents is that my visits have helped to cheer their child up. It helps them forget their problems for a few minutes.'
He said a number of other clubs are interested, but can't get anyone to actually do it. This, Duncan says, is an opportunity for churches to partner with their local clubs.
'Every church I go to, there are lots of football fans. If somebody has given up work, it would be a really useful thing to do. I believe it would suit a Christian, because Christians have that motivation to help others.'
Duncan adds that his involvement gives him access to those who make the decisions at the club, and that he has encouraged youth team players to join him on visits.
'As a Christian it's extremely helpful for me to be involved with the directors of the club,' he said.
'If any readers of The Baptist Times would like to visit patients in hospital for their local football club, I would be delighted to do what I can to help set this up.'
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