The 2014 college football season has kicked off. My favorite team entered the season highly ranked and featured on national TV. And they promptly embarrassed themselves and their fans by getting spanked in a major upset. They didn’t effectively block, tackle, throw, run or pass. Well, you can guess how the sports call-in shows erupted with irate fans questioning every facet of the program. We hold our coaches and teams highly accountable for winning in head-to-head competition. Do we in the American church hold ourselves accountable on a level we expect from our favorite college football team?
Throughout the preseason, the coaches claimed something special about our team in the way they get along, bond together, and support each other. But that doesn’t mean a thing this morning to those callers or our team stung by an embarrassing loss. The bottom line for college football is winning… not togetherness!
Our Missional Mindset
Let’s apply that same standard to our own churches. First, Jesus personally paid the debt for our sin and opened the door to heaven. Now Christ has called us to give our all on His winning team. He is calling us to win the world into relationship with God. Furthermore, Christ has given us the game plan to win the world. His game plan is called mission and discipleship. Jesus personally modeled the game plan as He met people at their point of need and called them to repentance and faith (mission) then called them to follow and obey (discipleship).
How is the North American church doing at winning our communities into discipleship with Christ?
Statistics point to the fact that North America is the only continent in the world where Christianity is in decline as a percentage of the population. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (www.thearda.com), the percentage of total population claiming adherence to a Christian religious group in the United States declined from 50.2 percent in 2000 to 48.8 percent in 2010.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reported in October 2012 that the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans rose from 15 percent to 20 percent in only five years. This increase is most prominent among the young, with one third of those under age 30 claiming no religious affiliation.
Polls report that, on average, only three out of every 100 church members in the U.S. ever share their faith. Only one of those shares their faith regularly.
The game is not over but the score board looks bleak. If God’s score card for us is “making disciples that make disciples” then we are falling further behind and the clock is running. We are in an eternal battle head-to-head against the forces of evil in our world and we’re failing our Head Coach and our biggest Fan – our Father God, who called us to lay it all down on this field. Of course, we are getting along pretty well in the huddle, having a grand old time on the sidelines, and have great fellowship in our practice sessions.
Our Missional Methodology
As Worship Leader, you are the head coach of your team! What would you expect from your football team’s head coach?
Analyze your team’s statistics with brutal honesty. Inventory those within your ministry. Do they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Are they actively engaged in obedient discipleship and discipling others with an intentional, relational game plan? Why not, Coach?
Analyze the score card you’ve been using to determine success. Have you defined success simply by attendance or excitement level? Has your intent been to grow faithful worship team members rather than disciple-makers? Does simply presenting a short devotional and prayer at rehearsals effectively grow disciple-makers? What else is there, Coach?
Analyze your team’s game plan in comparison to ultimate goals. Do you have a game plan for making disciples who make disciples? Is it working, Coach?
Next time we will begin to learn how to design such a game plan. There are many good plans available. But for now, let your team’s stats confront you and pray, pray, pray. Get before God and take time to hear His voice on these issues. What does He want from you as a team member on His winning team? Did Christ die just so we can have a nice fellowship?