I had two days away with some of the staff team last week to think, plan and pray about next year.
We were considering what it would mean for us as the church to be more intentionally “missional”. This is not to say that we have not had a mission focus up to now, but what would the church look like if being missional were the organising principle? Most often churches organize themselves around worship. Of course our Sunday services are arguably one of the most significant things we do as a church. The church will always gather for corporate worship, but will these Sunday events look like if mission was the organising principle at the heart of who we are as a church?
The picture that came up for us as we grappled with this question was that we should see Sunday services like the half time team talk in the middle of a rugby game.
The important stuff happens on the field of play. That is actually what it is all about. But at half time we come off the field into the change room to meet with the coach. It is a chance to take a breather, regroup and get perspective. We have been out there playing hard on the field. We have thrown ourselves into the game and put our bodies on the line. We have taken some hits, made some telling tackles and scored a few points. But we have also dropped a few passes and missed some tackles. We have been tempted to lose our cool, and we backed off, afraid of the hit we would take if we moved into an attacking position. We have run hard. We have played hard. We have slipped and fallen. And have mud, grass and blood to prove it. We have had to suppress cries of “unfair” – or maybe the same sentiment expressed more colourfully – when the ref gave a penalty against us or the other side were not penalized as we believe they should have been.
Now we are in the change room and the coach is speaking to us. Yes, there are some words of encouragement. “Good move there. Well done – I like your thinking. We need more of that.” There is a drink and maybe some physio and clean pair of shorts. Maybe even a stitch or two to sew up a cut. We are being patched up with bandages and duck tape. And while all that is happening the coach is giving us a team talk.
“Guys, if you keep playing this way you are going to lose. If you keep on doing the same thing you will get taken out in the maul, you will lose possession.”
The coach will not mince his words. He knows that tough talk means the team will go back onto the field for the second half, which does not promise to be any easier, with fresh resolve. Yes, a clean pair of shorts will help, and some of the aches and pains will have been relieved by the physio. But as they run back onto the field of play the team will have the coach’s words echoing in their minds. We are going to play the second half differently.
There is a famous quotation from Henry Russell Sanders an American Football Coach (died in 1958). He coached University of California Los Angels (UCLA). Their big rivals were the University of Southern California (USC). He is recorded as saying …
"Beating 'SC is not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that.”
Bill Shankly, manager of Liverpool FC, adapted his quote and said,
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
Sunday services are change room times. We are there to have our bruises and cuts attended to and to get cleaned up, but we are essentially there to listen to the coach and get ready for the second half. And for us it is a matter of life and death – eternal life and eternal death. The stakes are that high. We are not playing a game of football or rugby. The game we are playing is life, and the field is the real world. The world is watching, and winning and losing really matters. That puts Sunday services into a missional framework.
Pressing on …
Duncan(Author: Duncan Mclea)
The SA Church Leaders Indaba
SACL Indaba 22-24 Jan 2013 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Sermon Preached at the Consecration of Margaret Vertue Ezek 3:4-11, Psa 23, Acts 4:8-13, Matt 16:13-
19th January 2013 - Stellenbosch (Author: Duncan Mclea)
I believe in the resurrection of the body
Easter Sermon at Christ Church looking at the last line of the Creed - I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. (Author: Duncan Mclea)
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Duncan's annual report to the Christ Church Annual Meeting and to Parish Vestry (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Andrew Murray - a life God used
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Two weeks of prayer and fasting
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Duncan's Diary 2011-05-14
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Duncan's Annual Report 2011
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Growing maturing disciples ...
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On Christmas Day I concluded our sermon series on Revelation. (Author: Duncan Mclea)
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DD blog on 31 Oct 2010 (Author: Duncan Mclea)