Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Church and Hockey

Think of a hockey game. If you are one of those not bless to live in Canada think of basketball or soccer. You have a few players in the centre who could really use a break. Then you have the many in the stands who could really use some exercise. Pastors often use this analogy to complain about what is happening in their church. There are a few volunteers that are doing so much they worry about burnout. Then there is the majority who are doing very little and nobody can figure out how to motivate them. The many who could use some spiritual exercise are often watching the few who could really use a break.

I was thinking this analogy could be stretched a bit further. Why don't sports teams get somebody else to play who is less tired? Sure they are not going to invite the middle-aged, out-of-shape fan to come play but all sports teams have players who don't play much. Why don't they play? They are just not as good. A tired star is better than the guy on the bench who is fresh. The idea is to give the team the best chance to win. That means the best play and even the second best sits.

So why does the same logic not apply in church. Why is it not right to have a few superstars do the work? Won't you get better results if you have your A team in there all the time? The trouble is the goal is love. It is not winning or doing the best job in terms of communication or organizational skills. It is knowing God intimately and making Him known by loving in way only His grace enables us to do. This is not something we can leave to the professionals and a few key volunteers. It is the very centre of the faith.

The nature of love means we can't just scale things up. We have the technology to talk to more people and do music or drama at a larger scale. Technology does not allow us to love more people. It can lead to a very cold type of church leader. Not that they don't care but they want to budget their time for maximum impact. Yet love and efficient use of time don't go together easily. Often pastors who experience burn-out will talk about being in situations where they should care deeply and they just do not because they are so busy. 

Now when you talk about love people get confused. Sometimes it is a code word for a spirituality that never explicitly talks about God or at least avoids discussing the harder commandments. That is not the kind of love God calls us to. Jesus gives us a love that the world cannot give. The kind of love that is just being nice and never exhorting anyone to stop sinning and follow Jesus, that is the love the world gives. True love is wanting to be what God created you to be and wanting that for others to. Always respecting their right to say No but still making it clear you feel they are called to something better.

At least for Catholics the discomfort with God talk is one of the real inhibitors to them becoming more active in their faith. It needs to start in the family. We need to be very comfortable with talking about God in our homes. Then extending that to the wider church community, the family of God. When we get comfortable doing that then we are less likely to freeze up when the topic of faith comes up with the secular people in our lives. 

No comments:

Post a Comment