Friday, June 16, 2006

The World Cup & Christianity

What does the World Cup have to do with Christianity? Nothing directly, but it can help us understand how to be better bring the Gospel message to the world.

Why is it all the world loves soccer... except for people in America? Does it have something to do with the sport itself? Some say soccer is too slow of a game. The scoring is too low. But, if you want a slow game, go to a baseball game. Baseball is called America's pass-time, yet it is a very slow game. What makes baseball way more popular than soccer in the U.S.?

The reason is a difference between American culture and the rest of the world. Americans are very individualistic. The rest of the world is much more "group" focused. And we see this cultural difference in the sports we love. Soccer is very much a team sport. Yes, there are "superstars" of soccer, but a soccer game can not be won through the extraordinary efforts of one or two heros. No one starts at one end of the field and takes the ball all the way to the other end to score, by himself. The ball must be passed back and forth from player to player.

Now look at America's most popular sports--football, baseball and basketball. Although they are team sports, all are dominated by individual superstars. Unlike soccer, a single individual can make a difference in the sports American's love. Whether it's the quarterback in football or the clean-up batter in baseball, we go to the games to watch our heros win another game for us. American's treasure the individual in their lives and in their sports.

What does this have to do with spreading the Gospel around the world? When American's go to other countries we tend to think everyone thinks as we do. So we focus on individuals. But as most missionaries know, when we are in other countries we need to focus on the group--and the heads of groups.


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