Last night I was at a baseball game. It’s helpful for me to go to games in September it kind of extends the summer and staves off the pain of what I know is coming as the month’s progress into the ugliness of winter.
The game last night was interesting because though it was a very nice evening there were very few people in the ballpark and the majority of people who were there were fans of the visiting team. So the cheers for the positive things that occurred for the visiting team outshined the cheers for the good play of the home team. It was weird! And I suppose it paid off because the visitors absolutely killed the home team. When we left during the top of the eighth inning it was 14 – 5.
As I contemplated this experience I got to thinking about the church. And the fact that in most churches this is never the case. The “home team” is always represented very well in most of our churches. In the vast majority of our settings there are lots of folks cheering on “our team.” In worship committee meetings we are striving to make sure that the things that we have always done, the things that work best for the people who are already here, are the things we continue to do.
- At the Trustees meetings we talk about what we need to do to the property to make it work best for, again, the things that affect us (the home team).
- In the SPRC gatherings we make sure that the pastor is all about the home team, spending all of her or his energy relating to and caring for “our players.”
But I dream of a church that would look something like the game the other night. A church that has a majority of people cheering for and looking out for the “visiting team.” Where the focus is much more about how to reach out to those who aren’t here yet than on the players who regularly make that field their home. I dream of churches whose focus is well beyond the manicured outfields and contoured infields of their space. They look for all kinds of opportunities to invest their money, their time and their energies over the fences into their communities. Their values continue to reflect an investment in the people who aren’t there yet.
I enjoyed the game the other night. It is always fun to be at the ballpark. But I enjoy even more seeing churches engage in the kind of ministry that cheers on the visiting team in their community. May we be the kind of churches that reflect those values in all we do.