Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Get Off the Sidelines

by Pastor Bill Heffelfinger

 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  ~ Matthew 28:19-20

I’m a huge sports fan. I think some of the greatest life lessons are learned on the fields and courts of our society. Sport, in many ways, is a fascinating parallel to the church. On a playing field, you’ll have a few different roles.  

There are the coaches: Encouraging. Uplifting. Correcting. 
There are the players: Running. Jumping. Working. Sweating. Giving their all.
There are the referees: Keeping order. Enforcing rules.

Then, there are the fans.  They are the most interesting.  Many of them believe they have all of the answers.  If the coach would just say this or use this strategy. If the players would just work harder. If the referee would just be better at his job. Frankly, if everyone else did just what I say, this entire event would be better off.  Fans seem to have all of the answers.  They don’t necessarily want to put in the work required to secure the victory, they don’t necessarily want to be held accountable when things go awry, yet they continue to offer up “ideas” through their vocal displays of displeasure.

Sadly, I think we have too many fans in the Church. Few feel “called” to do ministry.  Fewer still feel a calling to lead others. But, many have plenty of ideas on how to “make church better.”  Many church suggestion boxes and Pastors’ inboxes are filled each week with suggestions to do a particular Bible study, a particular missions trip, or volunteer opportunities in a particular neighborhood.  Yet, far too few Christians want to be the actual players in the game.  The bible study is a good idea, if someone else leads it. The missions trip would be awesome; as long as it doesn’t conflict with my vacation. Serving that community could really be impactful, but I wanted to plant flowers and you’ve decided to paint houses.

I think many pastors simply get tired of hearing about good ideas for the church. It’s not that pastors don’t want to hear of new ideas.  Most do.  But, we need more players and fewer fans. The ideas are great, but it’s wholly unfair to expect the Pastor to implement every idea on his own. Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”   New ideas are the easy part. We must, as James 1:22 tells us, become “doers of the Word.”  Scripture is full of action words. Go, do, speak, exhort, oppose. Yet, so many believers passively approach applying scripture to their lives. 

Brothers and sisters, the time of simply spectating is over.  It’s time to get off the sidelines and get in the game.

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