Church is Not a Spectator Sport: What We Believe Part 3
When I think about a vacation, I envision sitting on a warm beach, my feet in the sand and a good book in my hand. Doesn’t that sound nice? Sit back, relax and recharge. Life can take it out of you and we need to have seasons of rest within the busy pace of life. Inevitably, after a few days of chilling out, I get a little stir crazy. I can only take so much down time before I want to get active again. It’s how I am wired.
I’m the same way in most areas of my life. If I am ‘in’ then I am ‘all in’. Not everyone is that way, though. Some people are wired differently and tend to hang back before getting engaged. We are all different by design, but regardless of how we are wired, there are some things in life that are not meant to be simply observed. At aware3, we believe that Church is one of those things. Church isn’t something we sit through, it is supposed to be fully integrated into the lives we live. We will explore this belief in the final part of our 3 blog series – What We Believe.
Here is the quick recap:
Church is more than a building –‘Go’ is a central theme of our faith. We have an opportunity to extend the reach of the Church by going where people are and engaging in their everyday lives.
Church is better together – Transformation happens in the context of community and requires connection beyond Sunday mornings. It is more about the depth of relationships than it is about an event we attend.
This post will explore the belief that Church is not a spectator sport. We believe that Church is not spiritually-themed entertainment; it is action that is driven by belief and fueled by connection.
Get onto the field
We live in an entertainment society and with the growth of large churches, it has never been easier to slip into hurch, sit in your seat for an hour and then slip back out without being noticed or bothered. In fact, I know several people that go to large churches for this very reason. The problem isn’t the size of the church, but it’s the attitude of not wanting to get involved or engaged. It’s easy to hide in a crowd. So what do we do about it? We need to build a culture of engagement in our churches. If you are like me, you might not need an invitation to get out of the stands and play ball. Others might need a more personal invitation. We can create an expectation of involvement by the things we offer and the language we choose. Changing the question from “How long have you been going to Harvest?’ to “Tell me how you are involved in the church” alters the conversation and creates an opportunity to invite them to get on the field if they aren’t already. The most common reason people are not involved is that they have not felt invited to engage.
Learn the game
Not everyone grew up playing baseball. We can’t make the assumption that everyone knows how to throw it ‘around the horn’ and when we don’t give people the space to learn the game, it can feel like a ‘brushback’ pitch. If you don’t know those terms, then you get the point that it can feel exclusionary if we don’t give context to people. In our churches we need to use language that is welcoming and intentionally build an onboarding process that helps people get the lay of the land. This should go beyond a ‘newcomers luncheon’ and be a multi-step process that allows people to deepen engagement over time. Andy Stanley’ church, NorthPoint, does this better than almost anyone. There are great insights in his book The Principle of the Path that can be applied to deepening engagement.
Find the right position
Each of us has God-given strengths and talents. By taking the time to uncover and enhance the gifts of your people, you can empower them to serve according to their passions. Too often we invite people to get involved based solely on our needs. A pulpit announcement may generate volunteers, but did they end up in that role just because they were the first person to raise their hand? Your volunteers will be more satisfied if they are engaged in their passion. Using technology, you can offer a variety of ways for people to get involved and personalize the invitation. Move from asking “Is there anyone at all out there that can help with children’s ministry?” to “Sharon, you seem to have a knack for technology. Have you ever thought about joining our media team? I’m sure they would benefit from your talents.”
Baseball isn’t much fun without a bat, ball or glove. In the same way, unless we provide the tools for people to get engaged, we are asking them to take the field without giving them the equipment they need. Often, we don’t provide proper training for our volunteers and even basic things like communication and scheduling tools to keep everyone on the same page. Technology enables us to help visitors get connected, move to involvement, and grow spiritually. Make it easy for people to find all of the ways to get involved, sign up for events, and for you to track people’s involvement.
Aware3 focuses on providing the tools that help you move people from passive to engaged; from sitting in the stands to joining the game. The Kingdom of God isn’t just talk and what we believe. It is the movement of God through His people. So let’s play ball.
1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” NIV