In a surprise move, the United Methodist Church announced this week that it will launch a new semi-professional football league in time for the 2014 season. The UMFL will begin in the newly formed Great Plains Conference, which encompasses all of Kansas and Nebraska.
Rev. Mitch Todd was one of the organizers of the league. The idea, he said, came from equal parts frustration and innovation.
“2013 has been a fantastic year for Chiefs football (The Kansas City NFL franchise), but it’s definitely hurt our attendance.”
Once Todd and other area pastors recognized that Sunday football was the primary reason for the reduction of Sunday morning worshippers, they put their heads together, and the UMFL was born.
“Right now we have 16 churches signed up for next fall,” Rev. Todd said. “We invited any church to join. Thankfully Church of the Resurrection (a 15,000 member mega-church in Kansas City) politely declined. They already have several Chiefs on their rolls. They would have wiped the floor with us.”
“Basically,” Rev. Todd explained, “we’d have football on Sunday mornings, instead of regular church. We’ll start with tailgating, then have a short coffee hour, and then have the game.”
When asked about actual worship and Sunday School, Todd turned reflective.
“Oh yeah. Worship. Sunday School.” He looked off into the distance, wistful for a moment, and then his smile came back.
“Did I mention that every church will come up with a crazy mascot to run around the sidelines? The kids will love it.”
Rev. Todd says if things go off as planned, the UMFL will be a fun and economical sporting event for the whole family.
“I predict a 40% growth in attendance,” he announces.
While some see the idea as an effective way to bring more fans to church, others are skeptical about the loss of a regular opportunity to both reflect and act upon the presence of God in one’s own life and world.
God, when reached for comment, had this to say:
“I never miss worship. It’s one of the high points of my week. I’m sure Rev. Todd means well, but I would never want church to go away! It’s where my children gather. It’s quality time, with me. I guess you could say it’s where we’re all on the same team.
“Now, I’m also a football fan. Love it. I don’t want to miss a single play if church runs long…”
“And that’s why I created…
Have a great week,