The 2022 World Games will be held in Birmingham in July, bringing opportunities for churches and individuals to volunteer, serve and pray.
The Games will be held July 7–17, and 36 events will be held in more than 14 venues throughout the Birmingham Metro area. Some 3,600 athletes and 500,000 spectators are expected to participate.
“The world is coming to Birmingham in a big way. We will have the opportunity to welcome people to our city and show them the hospitality that is deeply rooted in our Christian faith,” said John Butterfield, local disciple-making pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham. “This is a generational type of opportunity that we can leverage to show people the love of Christ and plant gospel seeds that will bear fruit around the world for years to come.”
Tim Wheat, pastor of missional living at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Vestavia Hills, called the World Games an “unparalleled” missions opportunity.
“We have this opportunity to be the hands, feet and even mouth of Jesus,” Wheat said. “I’m excited that God is bringing the world to us and the ways we can serve people from all over the world but also be a blessing to our city.”
Pathways for volunteers
There are three primary pathways for those who want to serve during The Games, Wheat said.
1. Official TWG Volunteer. TWG 2022 pathway provides a carefully constructed and protected process for serving while ensuring the safety and high standards of The Games. It also allows for the highest, most consistent contact with people while also meeting the specific needs of The Games, Wheat said.
Individuals can serve and/or churches can serve together as an organization. A group must have at least 8 people who will commit to serve the same venue/sport for the same shifts for a minimum of 20 hours.
Information for both individuals and groups is at www.twg2022.com/volunteer. Volunteers must be 18 years old by July 1, 2022. (There are limited opportunities for 14–17-year-olds.) Volunteers also must be willing to serve a minimum of 20 hours during the game, basically 3–4 shifts of 4–6 hours each. The process involves the following steps:
- Complete Online Application (https://twg.rosterfy.com/register) by Feb. 15.
- Complete background screen.
- Complete a brief interview.
- Accepted volunteers will receive an official invitation.
- Accept the invitation and commit to the volunteer requirements and code of conduct.
- Complete training modules virtually, approximately 8 hours.
- Communicate with your Team Captain. (ongoing process after being placed on a team)
- Sign up for your shifts. (approximately April 2022)
- Get your uniform package and goodies. (approximately May 2022)
- Complete any on-site and team specific training.
- Complete volunteer service.
Volunteers will receive some perks for their time, including meals, some clothing items, 8 complimentary tickets for other events and participation in the closing ceremony.
2. Church Volunteer Pathway. There will be many people passing through and utilizing public spaces throughout the Birmingham area, and a church might choose to interact and engage in one or more of these public spaces simply as “ambassadors” of good will and the gospel, Wheat said, noting this could be treated as a missions trip experience for many churches.
For example, individuals from a church might walk around in the downtown area and strike up conversations with people for the purpose of helping them or just to be friendly. In so doing, the gospel could be brought into a conversation. Another option might be for church members, with permission, to set up a tent in a parking area or near a business to hand out water, give directions or meet other needs of attendees.
While this option allows more flexibility, volunteers should be properly prepared, Wheat said. Churches involved in this way should secure permission from the city and/or businesses before setting up any serving areas. Churches also should pray and plan carefully so that volunteers communicate in culturally sensitive ways that do not give a negative gospel impression.
3. Prayer Pathway. The foundation for a movement of the gospel is always grounded in prayer, Wheat said. The Spirit can do things supernaturally that we cannot do through human effort. Prayer is not just an afterthought, he added. It is what paves the way for life-changing encounters.
Power of prayer
“Imagine if every believer in every church were to commit to praying over the remaining 26 weeks leading up to The Games for just a few minutes each day,” he said. “There are numerous verses to support what kind response God gives to powerful, effective prayer, but our city may never be the same … and the world will change! Many cannot or do not care to serve as a volunteer, but can and will serve as pray-ers [sic] for the advancement of the Kingdom. There may not be a more important volunteer role than committed, focused, fervent, bold ‘prayer-athletes’ participating in The World Games 2022.”
The BMBA will be hosting two upcoming World Games Engagement/Information Meetings for anyone interested in learning more.
- Monday, Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. in the BMBA Conference Center at 1449 Medical Park Drive Birmingham, AL 35213. Wheat will share information about the World Games and have a time for Q&A. No RSVP is needed for this meeting.
- Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This will be the same information shared at the Feb. 14 meeting just in a virtual format. Tim will be online for this meeting as well. If you would like to attend this virtual meeting on Zoom or find out more about monthly prayer meetings, contact BMBA at firstname.lastname@example.org.