Is Your Church the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl?

Last night was the NFL Pro Bowl, not that you watched it. I didn’t. I’m a rabid football fan, and the thought never even crossed my mind. Couldn’t remember where it was on tv. I looked at ESPN’s website, the (theoretically) go-to site for all things sports. There wasn’t even a link on the main page. NBA, NCAA basketball and the Australian Open were apparently more important events to cover.

1.26.15

What makes the Pro Bowl so forgettable and the Super Bowl so memorable? They’re both football games. They’re a week a part. They’re both in the same venue. Cities pay tens of millions of dollars for the privilege of hosting the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl was on the brink of cancellation a few years ago. That’s how few people care about the Pro Bowl. So what makes the Pro Bowl so forgettable and the Super Bowl so memorable? And what’s the application for the church today?

1. The Pro Bowl doesn’t count for anything. The Super Bowl counts for everything. The Pro Bowl is a way to highlight the best individual players at each position, but the game itself doesn’t count for anything. Everyone knows that. The Super Bowl, however, counts for everything. It’s the one prize that 32 teams are vying for each season. For the church: What’s at stake when your church meets each Sunday? Do people get the sense that eternity hangs in the balance, or is it just another Sunday routine?

2. The players aren’t playing for real at the Pro Bowl. The players are playing for keeps at the Super Bowl. The number one concern of the players during the Pro Bowl is ‘don’t get hurt.’ They play it safe, not wanting to put their salary in jeopardy for a meaningless game. The fans see that instantly. The Super Bowl is the polar opposite. You can’t keep the players off the field. They’ll play through pain, through sprains, through broken bones if need be. They’re playing for keeps. For the church: Is there a fire at your church? Is your church playing offense, taking new territory for the Kingdom, pushing back the darkness and actively spreading the hope of the gospel? Or is your church playing defense, keeping things the same, keeping the big givers happy, not rocking the boat?

3. Pro Bowl teams are nothing more than a collection of individuals. The Super Bowl contestants are teams that have been through the fire together. The Pro Bowl players are all-stars, but they’re not a team. They play like a group of players wanting to make the highlight reel and display their individual talents rather than win together. The teams that make the Super Bowl have been refined by the fire of the regular and post-season and play as one unit. Their teamwork, in fact, is what got them to this point. For the church: Does the church staff play as a team? Do they put the greater good ahead of their individual ministries? Are they more concerned with sacrificing for the good of the team or building their individual resume for the church down the road?

If you’re part of a church that meets weekly, be sure that it looks more like the Super Bowl than the Pro Bowl.

Five for Friday (1.22.15)

5Happy Friday! Keep reading, keep learning, keep growing.

In a TV World, NFL is King – a strong commentary on our devotion to the NFL and how Christians can redeem it.

“Dad, Look!” When Your Kids Invite You Into Their World – so true! Must read for all parents with young kids.

Fisherman That Don’t Fish – a stirring parable for those who claim to follow Jesus.

5 Things Minecraft Teaches Kids – A good article about the video game that has taken over our world.

10 Things You Can Do to Experience Financial Freedom in 2015 – great advice here!

The First and Most Important Thing We Talk About at Every Staff Meeting

No, it’s not Bible or prayer. Although those are two very spiritual answers, the primary goal of Mt Vernon’s staff meeting* is not to have a Bible study, but to plan and maintain the health and growth of the church. As a guy that’s worked at a local church for thirteen years now, I’ve been to a myriad of staff meetings. There are basics you need to cover: the upcoming calendar, events, allocation of resources, any conflicts between staff members or programs, and of course, depending on the week, you deal with membership complaints.

Staff

But the first thing we talk about every week at Mt Vernon is incredibly intentional. It’s long. Sometimes it’s over the top. Yesterday it took up half of our time. The first and most important thing we talk about at every staff meeting* is people. Plain and simple. We talk about first-time guests. We figure out who they came with, who they’re related to, who else knows them. We share stories and victories (big and small) that we’ve seen in our church over the past week. We talk about needs and pray for them.

This past Sunday there were over a dozen new families that we identified as first-time guests. It took us an hour to finish our “people” portion of our meeting. But the reason we always start with people is because at the end of the day the church is not made up of programs, resources or buildings. The church is made up of people. People are always primary in importance.

 

 

*I use the term “staff meeting” because it’s common and familiar to most reading this post. For years that’s what we called it. About three months ago we went uber-hip and changed the name from “staff meeting” to “team collective” (stealing the idea from a conference we went to). Sounds much cooler, doesn’t it?

A Simple Prayer That Will Revolutionize Your Week

If you’re looking to revolutionize the rest of a week, here’s a simple prayer you can pray.

1.20.15

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

Matthew 9:38 is a famous verse calling on us to pray that God would send workers into the harvest field of the world. Here’s the prayer, with a twist: before you leave your house today, tell God that you’re the answer to Matthew 9:38. Don’t just pray for someone else. Tell God you’re the answer, “I’m ready to be used today. I’m ready to work in the harvest field. Use me today.”

Pray that prayer everyday this week, and watch for the opportunities that God will place in front of you. Warning! If your prayer reflects your heart in this, your week will never be the same!