In recent months I have joined the burgeoning number of people who spend between 15 and 45 minutes (or so) running 5 kilometres in a park on a Saturday morning. What started out in London almost 10 years ago has gone global, with some 300 events in various parts of the world (about 2/3 of them in the UK – 15 in Northern Ireland).
Local events are free, run by volunteers and supported by a fairly decent technical infrastructure which allows runners to be timed and to measure their progress (or lack of it) from week to week.
In September, a New Frontiers church leader in Dorset blogged about connections between Parkrun and church planting. I’ll not repeat everything he said here, but it’s interesting to note some of the similarities between Saturday morning at 9.30 in parks across the country and what happens at 11 on Sunday morning in church buildings across the country. From the pre-run chatter, to acknowledgement of newcomers, to the announcements, to what I suppose amounts to an ‘order of service’ parkrunners get to experience some community before heading off on the pursuit of a common experience.
Just as it’s become the vogue thing for churches to craft mission and vision statements, so Parkrun has its vision:
parkrun aims to have an event in every community that wants one.
It sounds almost evangelistic! It is beautifully simple. And not so far removed from the Acts 1:8 vision of Jesus.