Announcing: The UMFL!


–Lawrence, Kansas

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…

the DVR.”


Have a great week,



Being nice to people who don’t go to your church.

My church has started a new team we’ve called “Community Connections”.

Our mission statement is simple: “Being nice to people who don’t go to our church”.

As evangelism goes, it’s decidedly lightweight. But it may be the best place to start.

We’ve been looking for friendly, non-pushy, non-preachy ways to let people in our community know that we like them. (If they know we like them, perhaps they’ll give us a chance to show them that we love them.)

It may be the most basic level of evangelism, but it’s still one that comes hard for some churches, including ours.

Here’s how we got up and running:

Delicious Team Meetings.

There are about 10 of us on the team. Our task is to help the congregation find ways to connect with the community.

So, from the beginning, we have never met inside the church.

Instead? Our team tends to meet in various Mexican restaurants around town. I highly recommend this for all committee meetings.

Sitting at tables in a busy restaurant can make it a little hard to hear, but we’ve gladly exchanged Robert’s Rules for chips and salsa.

It’s made planning fun and kept us focused on the world outside our church.

The 30% Club.

Speaking of restaurants…

Our first project took almost no effort. We had little business-size cards printed up with our church logo, address, and website.

Then, we invited the congregation to take some cards and be part of the 30% club.

Here are the rules:

  1. Go out to eat.
  2. Tip 30%
  3. Leave a card.

That’s it. Our town has lots of restaurants and lots of waiters and waitresses struggling to make ends meet. By tipping such a large amount and leaving a card, we’re letting people know our church cares.

We were sure to tell people NOT to leave a card if they chose to leave a low tip due to poor service! And the cards didn’t say something like “30% club” on them, or even an invitation to church.

This wasn’t to be a bribe. Just a gift.

We didn’t know how the congregation would embrace this first project, but response was amazing. We ran out of cards and had to print more.

People loved this simple way of sharing a kindness with somebody.

Anything goes.

Our ideas seem to take us all over the place. From “random-acts-of-kindness”, like handing out bottles of water to hot downtown shoppers, to inviting community children to a kite festival, or an upcoming blessing of the animals, we’ve picked the ideas that we felt passionate about and run with them.

We’re lucky to have a graphic designer who can put together beautiful posters advertising our events, but have had to remind ourselves they’re only useful if people are willing to put them up all over town.

Let’s share.

Does your church have something like our Community Connection Team? Share what’s worked for you in the comments below.

For us, we’ve found that instead of wishing we could get more people inside the church, we’ve been having a blast finding ways to get us outside.

A church is surely meant for more than just to be “nice” to its neighbors…

But I’ll bet you a burrito it’s worth the effort.