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Basketball Practice and Church

I have often wondered what would happen if basketball coaches approached their work like most churches respond to certain situations. For example, I wonder what would happen if, when a player was too busy to show up for practice, the understanding coach simply said, "We'll miss you. I hope you will be able to make it to the next practice." Imagine the players leaving practice and hearing the smiling coach say, "Thanks for coming. I hope you will be able to come back for the game tomorrow."

If a basketball team operated like a typical church, we might expect concerned parents to call the coach saying, "Can you tell me what's been going on in practice? My son says it's boring and he doesn't want to come anymore. I was wondering if you could make it a little more fun for them. And by the way, you might want to talk to the coach at the school across town. He seems to have the right idea." The coach might send out quarterly questionnaires about what the players would like to change about the team  (I can just imagine some of the answers — "shorter practices" "more winning").

A coach, responding like a typical church, might first feel guilty that the practices were not meeting the boy's needs, and he would try to adjust the program to suit this boy (and every other boy who complained). Between trying to keep everybody happy and giving every player a good experience, the coach would squeeze in a little basketball practice. And what kind of season would this coach have? It's probably safe to assume that this coach wouldn't be the only one who felt like a loser.

But this is the very way that most churches expect to run their ministries. To expect that members be committed to the church at the same level of commitment that would be expected of a basketball team would draw the charge of legalism. People would protest about unfair expectations. So, what do we do? We give in and lower our expectations and allow members to come and go as they please. REAL commitment in the Lord's church means real responsibility to and for each other and especially to God. It means being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. It means doing things that are good and right and holy without having to be told. Let's get on the same team and show up for practice and games!

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward