ONE of London’s cathedrals of football will serve a different faith in 2017, when it hosts a huge evangelistic meeting.
Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, in north London, has been provisionally booked by J. John, a speaker and evangelist, for a mission on 8 July 2017. The plans were unveiled at a hospitality suite inside the stadium on 8 October, in front of more than 400 church leaders.
Mr John, who said that he had held more than 350 missions in 69 countries over 33 years of ministry, told the audience at the breakfast meeting that he had been considering launching an event at a football ground for five years.
“God told me: ‘It’s time to tell my good news in the football stadiums,’” Mr John said. “We thought we would start with the Emirates, and then after that we would do football stadiums around the UK for as many years as the Lord will allow.”
The event, JustOne Emirates, will start at 3 p.m., the traditional kick-off time for Saturday football matches. The three-hour programme will include two sets of live worship, led by the British musician Matt Redman and the Australian mega-church Hillsong.
Mr John also said that he hoped to arrange a 1000-voice children’s choir from London schools to perform. “We will have people from all walks of life telling their stories. And I will endeavour to tell how His story relates to ours.”
He had brought the hundreds of pastors, priests, and ministers from across London to the Emirates to ask them, over coffee and pastries, whether his dream of preaching at the home of the back-to-back FA Cup winners would be “helpful”; or “Would it hinder you?”
And then came what Mr John called “the Sermon on the Amount”. He asked churches and organisations to partner with JustOne Emirates by pledging £1000, and hosting evangelism training in the build-up to July 2017.
In total, running JustOne Emirates would cost about £800,000, the church leaders were told. Of that, £200,000 would be raised by Mr John’s own charitable trust (£53,000 of this had already been secured), and £300,000 raised by partner churches. About 45,000 tickets would be sold for the mission, costing between £5 and £10 each.
Mass evangelism, such as JustOne Emirates, should be a platform for more personal conversations with non-Christian friends, Mr John said. He had high hopes for the 2017 mission.
“I’m praying that the Lord will allow us in our lifetime to see a reawakening and a revival in the UK,” he said. He referred to recent polling commissioned by the Evangelical Alliance and the Church of England, which found that one in five non-Christians were open to hearing more about Jesus and faith.
“I believe JustOne Emirates, with prayer and preparation and personal invitations, can give thousands of people an opportunity to receive Jesus Christ, and progress in their journey of faith.” Mr John promised to buy a box at the Emirates himself, and invite 100 people, including his Greek aunts and uncles, many of whom live close to the stadium.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, whose evangelism adviser, the Revd Chris Russell, was at the breakfast meeting, has endorsed JustOne Emirates. He said that there was an “absolute need” for the Bible to be reinterpreted afresh for each generation. “J. John has worked on this for years, and JustOne is another major commitment. . . Please, with me, pray and seek God’s call for your own involvement.”