3 Lessons I’ve Learned About Worship From The World Cup

I love watching World Cup Soccer. With friends around the world in many of the countries represented, my heart rises and falls with every win, loss, and “Holy @#$%* did that just happen?” that comes with the game. So what does it have to do with worship?

photo from England World Cup Group Adidas

Well, worship is for me the most expansive idea in human vocabulary, especially for understanding the ordering of human life – from its divine origins to they mystery of death.

Yeah. It’s a big idea. A very big idea.

The fervor with which the World Cup games are approached, by both players and fans, serves as a profound metaphor for the epic lives we are meant to lead.

1. Worship Is Like A Soccer Game, And Everyone Plays It Whether They Want To Or Not

Designed for worship, we play out rhythms of life like a World Cup Soccer game, with the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory running like a through story in our daily lives. There is no person on planet earth who does not, day in and day out, live and breathe the game of worship.

They just don’t know they are doing it.

And if you are on a soccer field, and don’t know what you’re doing… someone is sure to see you wandering and they will tell you what to do. Often, it will benefit them and their system (and possibly their cash-flow).

At other times, an altruistic soul will point you a direction they think you should go. Still other times, one of the wisest voices will suggest we stop, sit on the sidelines, get our bearings, and pursue a fast lesson on life from the Coach of all coaches.

We may as well get some input; it’s a long few periods.

2. Sometimes We Must Meet The Coach Mid-Field, Mid-Game, For A Lesson

Many people meet the Coach on the field mid-game, lying on the ground in pain (the real kind, not the World Cup Soccer kind) and writhing with regret.

There, He speaks to them, ministers healing to them, and gives them a taste of what the game has to do with them – and what they have to do with the game.

Meeting the Coach mid-field takes courage. We have to humble ourselves to receive some counsel, even while our public looks on. But if we’ll take it, and take it to heart, it will be a game-changing moment.

3. We May As Well Play Our Hearts Out; We Only Get One Shot At This

Life is a game where are meant to “Leave it on the field.” We give ourselves, hook, line, and love to those God has given us to encourage and serve. The World Cup reminds me that our best is our all.

When people talk about worship as if it is to be understand and valued in the small way that a World Cup game is to be valued, I have been known to respond with an edge. Worship that has been shrunk to the size of our music and services is not a game in which I would play my heart out, nor is it a game for which I would die.

But understanding worship in its widest terms, that week after week a person is living out their Life Worship, and then they meet with God in Gathered Worship to fuel their fight to live, to win, and to show up with others in their life in the World Cup Worship Game?

That I would die for, that I would play my heart out for, and that I would say is World Cup Worship. Generations to come will feel its effects through one life committed to play well.

So, we may as well play our hearts out. In the end, let’s leave it on the field.

The World Cup Of Worship

As for the World Cup we’re currently in, I’ve gotten quite excited. I even yelled at the TV, for the first time in, well, my life (my wife was in shock). I may not afford soccer the high value that many do – resulting in screaming in the stands, biting opponents, or game outcomes that ruin your whole year – but I do like it.

Well, I love it to be exact, and the metaphor it provides for our Life Worship. Besides, yelling “Holy @#$%* did that just happen?” every now and again is cathartic – and probably keeps me a little more pumped for the next epic match ahead in my own World Cup of Worship.


Question: What metaphors for Life Worship do you see in the World Cup Soccer experience, on the field or off?

Recommended Resources: Worship White Noise: Tuning In The 7 Worship Culture Shapers In The Chaos Of The Contemporary Worship Experience


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.