Saturday, January 26, 2008

What Allen Iverson can teach us about church..

Some of the folks from church were talking about this video over the past week. The idea was that generally, churches get wrapped up about minor issues and miss the bigger picture. For instance, a recent survey of our members about clothing received hundreds of responses from our members - a much higher response rate than just about any other topic we've had. Another issue that has generated enormous feedback was about whether our pews should be replaced with new pews or no pews. It seems like everyone has an opinion about issues like this.

The concern of course is that these issues really don't seem to have much bearing on the bigger and more important goals and vision of the church locally or univerisally. In other words, a decision to do or not do any of the options in terms of pews or clothing would not really matter one iota in terms of building God's kingdom, advancing the Gopsel, growing in grace, love and knowledge of our Savior and others.

So, in that context, the almost cartoonish video of Allen Iverson railing about the media's obsession with "practice" makes sense. Instead of looking to results, record or what is happening in "real life" - The Game itself, where the rubber meets the road - the media, the public and the sports association seem enamored with the who, what, when, where and why's of the "practice" sessions.

On that level, I get it. If someone is too sick, hurt, or tired to make it to every single practice, there is no sense in brow-beating them. If the conditions of the practice are perhaps less than ideal or to our liking, that should not be a show stopper or keep us from being on the team or in the game.

Now, I don't think we can take this metaphor too far however, because even Allen Iverson (what a strange example to be discussing :-) in the context of a church metaphor!) even mentioned that he knows that he has a responsibility as a team leader to be at practice for the sake of the team. And I don't think we can overlook this aspect.

I don't believe that God wants to create a team of superstars and celebrities. The reason why practice is valuable is that those who have experience and gifts in certain areas can use this time to edify others and to build them up so that they can be fruitful and multiply inside and outside the body of Christ. So, while individual issues like pews and clothing and the other who, what, when, where, whys of practice are definitely subordinate to the bigger picture (ie, The Great Commission), the local body needs to be on the same team, submit to and respect one another with regard to these seemingly less important issues, SO THAT they build up one and bear testimony to Christ's Love of the Church by loving one another.

To use the gardening analogy, I fully agree that the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. And in this regard, the Allen Iverson video is helpful - Let's get our focus more on The Game. My caveat or addition is to remember that there are many un-seen and perhaps less glorious workers who labor in and through practice, who till the soil, prune the branches, add the fertilier, etc.. preparing the way for the harvesters. Many serve faithfully in the body who contribute to developing the Allen Iversons of tomorrow. And those superstars are going to need to get their butts to practices so that their legacy doesn't end when they grow old, move to another town or get called home. As talented and capable as Michael Jordon or Allen Iverson might be, they are human and cannot win those games alone. All of the inconveniences and seemingly minor annoyances of the practice are where the team's hearts are knit together and where our human frailties are brought to bear so they can be dealt with by the Chief Physician.

The church doesn't have or need John Waynes. And John Wayne never won a basketball game.

That's my $.02, so far, for all that it's worth :-) Let's see if anyone is reading this...

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