“ARE YOU IN THE GAME?”
Have you ever noticed the way that every stadium is put together, no matter what the sport, the stands are a whole lot bigger than the playing field? 22 guys and a few referees are all that’s allowed on the football field, but the stands have seats for thousands.
That tells me something: there are a lot more of us who like watching sports more than playing them. Armchair quarterbacking is a whole lot easier than the real thing! There are some very interesting parallels between sports and the Church in the US, and we’ve known it all along. Some of them are on purpose. Some just seemed to happen over the years.
Let me point them out. We build places to gather, with carefully planned parking and seating, and people come together at a scheduled time and take their place in “the stands.” Some even have reserved seating! The number of players compared to the number in the crowd is relatively small. In fact, there’s typically a small team of a few people, and then what seems to be one main guy, kind of like a quarterback, all on the field. He has a group of coaches that keep him on his toes. The team performs, the crowds cheer or jeer, and after the game is over everyone goes their separate ways, talking about the game and what they thought of the team’s performance that day. Now, if you’re a spectator, you don’t have to feel responsible for what happens from week to week. So, if you’re not there, it’s OK. The game will go on without you anyway. And, if you ever grow tired or impatient with the team, you can just leave and take your loyalties and your revenue and your cheers to a different team, at a different stadium. There are a lot of them, aren’t there?!
In too many churches, too many Sundays, for too many years, that’s the way it is. We have taken our consumer mentality to church. Sometimes, we make it about ourselves. We settle into the stands, evaluate the team, and hang on to our ability to change loyalties if we feel the need. It’s great when the team wins, and it’s a disappointment when it doesn’t perform well. But, in the end, after the game is over, we can just go home and back to reality on Monday.
Most all of us know what it’s like to go to a game and sit in the stands or watch from the armchair at home.
Have you ever been to the game and wondered what it’s like to be down on the field? Have you ever wondered what the quarterback was saying to the guys in the huddle? Have you ever wondered what it was like to toe the line with a guy who was bigger than you? Have you ever imagined yourself feeling all the intensity of the moment when all the training and practice comes together? Have you ever wondered what it felt like to leave it all on the field, or the euphoria of winning a big game with the team? Have you ever imagined yourself running away with the ball – the 40, 30, 20, the 10, touchdown – and the crowd goes wild? Have you ever seen yourself, risking loss and injury, for the sake of the team name? Haven’t you ever, just once at least, dreamed about getting out of the stands and being one of the players?
Look around “the stadium” this morning. Where are you in this picture? There’s a field, with players. There are cheerleaders, coaches, reporters, sports medicine people, and there’s a whole crowd of spectators. Which one are you in that picture? (this was taken from: