Friday, February 25, 2005

Contrarian View From the Pew: A team game

Imagine what would have happened in the 1986 Super Bowl if Mike Ditka, head coach of the Chicago Bears, grabbed William Perry by the face mask right in the middle of the game and said, “Fridge, I know you aren’t particularly gifted as a quarterback, but we have to win this game, so get in there and start throwing the ball”. Imagine also what would have happened if Coach Ditka then turned to Walter Peyton, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, and the rest of the Bears and said, “I know none of you want to play quarterback, and most of you aren’t gifted enough to play quarterback, but we need to win this game, so I want all of you to start throwing the ball.”

How many World Series rings would the Yankees have won under Joe Torre if the skipper said to Derek Jeter before the start of the 1996 Series, “Derek, I know you aren’t really gifted as a pitcher, but we have to win the World Series, so I want you to go stand on the mound.” Imagine also, what would have happened, if Joe Torre then turned to Bernie Williams and the rest of the team and said, “Guys, I know most of your aren’t really very gifted at pitching, but we have to win this series, so I want all of you to go stand on the mound.”

Now, think about what DOES happen in Churches where the leaders tell the members, “It doesn’t really matter if you are gifted in evangelism, spreading the Gospel is so important, everyone has to be out sharing with their circle of friends.”

The goal in football is not to “pass the ball”. The goal in football is to score more points than the opponent. Passing the football well usually helps to achieve the goal, but it is not THE goal. Effective passing requires an effective plan, effective blocking, effective pass routes, and effective receivers; not just an effective quarterback. Winning the game usually requires a solid defense as well. The 1986 Super Bowl champions, and most other Super Bowl winners, have had at least 40 players with very specialized roles. Walter Peyton probably could have played quarterback, but if he did, we would have missed out on some of his spectacular runs, and the Bears would still be without a Super Bowl win. It was much more fun watching Mike Singletary chase down quarterbacks than it would have been for him to be quarterback.

The goal in baseball is not to stand on the mound and pitch the baseball. The goal in baseball is to score the most runs. Good pitching helps to win games, but I doubt even the New York Yankees could win a single game with Derek Jeter standing on the mound. Teams that win World Series rings have players that are specialists at playing their assigned position.

The goal of Christianity is to spread Christianity. Preaching the Gospel is not the goal of Christianity. Preaching the Gospel is a method used to achieve the goal of Christianity. Effective evangelism is an essential part of spreading Christianity and it is a big part of achieving our goal. However, “Evangelist” is not the only important position on our team and we do not need a whole team of Evangelists to accomplish our goal. Evangelism and Evangelists need a supporting infrastructure of other gifted Christians filling many different roles in order to spread Christianity.

As Christians, we should try to be everything God created us to be, we should model the same behavior Jesus modeled for us, and we should strive to become everything the Holy Spirit is preparing us to become; but we don’t all need to be quarterbacks or pitchers, nor should we be.

More to come next week on football, baseball, and evangelism…


Derek Simmons said...

Dang-as my daughter and as my pastor commonly put it--I must have been making a head call when "The Fridge" got the emergency draft at QB.

But despite my missing that play, I did not miss the touchdown you scored with your metaphor. TD and PAT.

I never met someone I thought was truly called to distribute a Chick Tract. And to be good at what you do you should do what you are called to.

I agree: there are waaaaaaaaay too many QB's in the church, especially when--to pigskinnyback on your metaphor--all our best plays are being called in from The Skybox.

As you have said, however, there is one position we are each gifted to play--especially if we have been diligent in our training. OURSELVES! If we are ourselves and we have worked out with coaches and trainers and teammates to be just who God called us to be, then we will live, in DM Lloyd-Jones phrase "self-commending lives." When a Christian lives a "self-commending life" she/he thereby brings souls to Christ.

There is(was?) a country-western song--I think by one of the many named Travis in that field of endeavor--that told of the benefit to lost souls of a sermon lived by the life of a believer.

Keep throwing down the gauntlet and picking up the pieces other less thoughtful folk leave strewn in public places. Pick a little; talk a little.

Your Brother in Christ,

Teresa said...

I believe we are all different members of the same body with different gifts, and that we all cannot do the same thing. The foot cannot see, the eyes cannot walk etc. I will not use football senerios, although they were great. But if you define "evangelism" as the purposeful sharing of the gospel, I believe that the Lord leads us all to do this at one time or another, but, I belive more in life-witnessing, and building relationships, and asking questions. Isn't that what Christ did? At some point though, we need to share when prompted to do so. I am NOT and evangelist, but because of my relationship with Christ, I am compelled (by my heart)to share the gospel whenever the opportunity arises. I am not "gifted at house-cleaning, but I have a responsibility to do it. So I am not sure your football senerio works here. I think I just see this differently. Maybe that's just what's in my heart.

Buz said...

Now, imagine the end of the Super Bowl ... 30 seconds to go. The offense is up by three points, and they are at the oppositions 30 yard line. The ball is snapped to the QB who can't hold onto it. One of the defense rushing in scoops it up ... then stops and sets the ball on the ground.

"What in blazes were you thinking!?!?!"

"Well coach, I'm not a running back, I'm a QB killer. My job is to rush in and crush the QB before he can complete a play."

"But you had the ball in your hands! We could have gone from three points down to three points ahead. All you had to do was run a lousy 25 yards!"

"But that's not my position. I got the ball, now it is up to the offense to score that TD."

"But there is only 15 seconds left now, and they will be running an extra ten yards. The other team was off balance ... you could have easily taken the ball in! Now the other team will be ready for them."

"Sorry coach, but on my contract it says that I rush in on the snap and stop that QB. I did that ... AND I picked up the ball, too. I went beyond my job description for the sake of the team. You should be proud of me."

"You're fired!"