Today’s blog post contains a heavy amount of sports and sports analogies. But it is not tainted! It’s not! It’s not tainted!
Continuing the thoughts from yesterday on “seeker-friendly” worship services, let me insert a comment from Cynthia that maybe some of you missed.
Thanks for saying so well what troubles my heart so often. We speak of making the church more attractive to seekers, but why do we assume that they are seeking more of what they already have in the world? If the life Christians live in Christ is different than the life lived in the world, shouldn’t the homage and adoration of our worship experience differ from the adulation given to cultural celebrities.
More and more, I am convinced that private worship (the assembly of the church) should not be attractional. Rather, it is in our public worship (Christ living in us as we move about in the world) where we should seek to attract the unbeliever.
I took the girls to the Rangers game last night and enjoyed a fairly well played, exciting at times, sporting event. Whitney and I spent a great deal of time talking strategy — hitting behind runners, playing at double-play depth, and running out grounders — using baseball-specific terminology such as RBIs, bullpen, full-count, hitter’s eye, foul ball, off-speed, check swing, ERA, and dugout. That communication during the game enhanced our enjoyment of the game, our appreciation of the game, and our relationship with each other in connection with the game.
Now imagine that, instead of Whitney, I was sitting next to someone who had never in his life seen a baseball game — a guy from another country, who’d never been to a baseball stadium or held a bat or seen a game on TV. There’s no way in the world that guy can attain the same level of understanding and appreciation for the game after watching it for those three hours that you and I have after watching it for 40 years. How long would it take him? Even if I tried to explain every single nuance of every single play and every single word in the baseball language, how long would it take?
Then why do we think we can convert a person who knows nothing about Jesus during a one-hour worship service? Why do we try? Won’t that person have to come to our services over and over again, for weeks and months, before he gets a sense of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it?
Maybe this is a better analogy. Suppose you’re the football coach of a playoff team in the championship game. Everything’s on the line. You’re in the lockerroom just ten minutes before kickoff, going over last minute details and instructions that will be critical to your team’s success. These are things that your team needs to hear and remember and immediately apply if they’re to win the battle.
“Charlie, remember that if the tackle moves into that three-gap he’s stunting inside. Make sure you release into the flat as a safety valve”
“Dan, don’t forget they’re going to cover-two deep but they’ll disguise it every time with a 4-3 blitz look just before the snap.”
“Kevin, we’ve been working on the deep fly to the Z back all week, but we’re changing our protection. Sid’s going to stay in the box and pick up the corner.”
“Watch the weak-side double. Remember to read the tight end’s stance. Don’t get suckered in on the draw…..”
And in the middle of all that — you giving your troops these critical instructions that mean success or failure in the fight — the team owner walks into the middle of your lockerroom and says, “Coach, I’ve brought in these seven guys from Kenya who’ve never seen a football game before. They only know soccer. They’re going to watch the game with me in my box. Can you explain to them everything you’re saying to your team right now? Help them understand what you’re saying.”
Right there in the middle of your pre-game speech, right there in the middle of your lockerroom. How do you do that?
Why do we try?
Origen said that if someone wanders into our church building off the streets while we’re praying, he should sense a “double church,” one that is seen, which may not always be attractive, and another that is unseen. Visitors should expect a little vertigo when they worship with us, a little disorientation. Allan McNicol says Christian worship done well communicates to outsiders that it’s not on a mundane dimension, it involves another world. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:25 that the unbeliever who comes into our midst will be so moved by the other-worldly nature of our worship that “he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'”
The greatest gift our worship can confer to a believer and to an outsider is a glimpse, however fleeting, of another city, another scene, another dimension.
Back to last night’s ballgame and Barry Bonds* and Michael Irvin right after this……
Legacy Worship Center Construction Update
The massive piles of dirt have now been dubbed the “Legacy Mountains.” I’m looking forward to watching several impromptu games of King of the Hill tonight after Bible classes. In fact, I’d be disappointed in the young people of today if I didn’t see any of that this evening.
I always love going to the Rangers games. Valerie and Carley only care about the intrusive music between innings and pitches and the cotton candy while Whitney hangs on every pitch and every play just like her dad. There wasn’t a pitching change made or a defensive replacement brought in or a pinch runner added that she didn’t look up his bio and stats in the program. What a great gal!
Last night we got to watch a rising fan favorite in Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead three-run homer, some clutch pitching from C. J. Wilson, and some nice defensive plays from Mike Young. It got a little uncomfortable when the A’s started pounding Frankie Francisco and mounted a bit of a comeback. But Texas held on and got the “W” and we all went home happy. I couldn’t help thinking though, from the first pitch to the final out, it sure would be nice if this meant something, if it really mattered at all. The victory keeps the Rangers 17-1/2 games out of first place.
I don’t know what to say about Barry Bonds* that hasn’t already been said, over and over and over again, for the past five or six years. It’s nauseating. What a great contrast between him and Hank Aaron on both personal and professional levels. I suppose if we didn’t have the bad guys, we wouldn’t truly appreciate the good ones. The same kind of contrast was on brilliant display in Canton Saturday evening. Michael Irvin sharing the same stage and accolades as Bruce Matthews and Roger Wehrli and Charlie Sanders brought back memories of the old Sesame Street bit: one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.
Just 22 more days until football season and Bobby Layne is the second greatest player to ever wear the #22. The top honor, of course (come on!), goes to the all-time leading rusher in NFL history, Emmitt Smith. 13 records at Florida. Three Super Bowl victories with the Cowboys. He led the NFL in rushing four times. He was the league MVP in 1993, the Super Bowl XXVII MVP in ’92. He went to eight Pro Bowls. He set the NFL record for rushing TDs with 155. And his 17,418 career rushing yards are the most ever.
As great as he was, he’s routinely left out of most of the debates about best running back ever. And I have no clue as to why. He barely makes the top ten of most national lists. I don’t see how he’s not an automatic top three in every single all-time running backs list that’s compiled by anybody, anywhere. The only argument should be whether he’s the all-time greatest or number two or three. That’s it. First downs. Touchdowns. Durability. Leadership. Determination. Strength. Speed. He had it all.
Don’t say Barry Sanders could have had the record if he didn’t quit. He did quit. And he didn’t get the record. To me, there’s no comparison.
My word, that’s more than enough to chew on for one day.