Major League Baseball just kicked off a new season, and I sat down to watch the Braves season opener.
Decked out in their navy away jerseys, the Bravos took on the Mets at Citi Field in baseball’s much anticipated return. Aces were on the mound, superstars were in the lineup, flags were waving on the rooftop, but there were no fans in the stands.
Only cardboard cutouts.
All of the fans were watching from home or listening in their car. There were no camera shots of fans doing silly things in the stands because there were no fans in the stands. I can guarantee you, though, that there were fans doing silly things at home. Sports fans can be a superstitious bunch. They believe that their habits, rituals, and totems have an effect on the game. Some fans will refuse to move from a certain chair — even for snacks or a restroom break — if their team is winning. They’ll refuse to cross (or uncross) their legs, change their position, or even shift in their seat. On game day, certain fans believe that wearing the same clothes and eating the same meal will somehow affect how their team plays.
News flash: none of that works.
But you know what fans can do that does work? They can be there. Teams perform better when their fans show up. The environment changes when people show up. Encouragement takes place when people show up.
Major League Baseball can pipe in all the crowd noise they want, create as many zany cardboard cutouts as they can, and use the latest CGI technology to create the illusion of fans, but nothing can replace people being there.
It’s just not the same.
Initially, I thought the parallel for the Body of Christ is the importance of people showing up, taking their place, being in their seats. I wanted to help folks understand that there is ministry in showing up. Your presence matters. People are encouraged when you show up. Out time together is enriched because it is actually time together.
But I’m afraid that analogy breaks down. The reality is that, as followers of Jesus, we are not called to be in the stands. We are called to be on the field. Cardboard cutout fans are clever, but you know what would be crazy? Real people in the stands and cardboard cutouts on the field.
Worldwide COVID-19 precautions are keeping people out of the stands. I may not like it, but I get it. I think the real question for a disciple of Jesus, however, is not when can I get back in the stands. The real question is how can I take my place on the field? What will that look like during this time?
The game goes on. Ministry is still happening. We still have a job to do. The context for ministry has changed. The guidelines for contact and interaction are challenging. The routines we’ve been used to for years have been altered. But the call to make disciples remains.
And you have a role to play in that.
Are you taking your place on the field?
Some activities can’t be done during the pandemic, but we can’t cancel disciple making. I appreciate the willingness of professional athletes, musicians, actors, and media folks to press on even though they can’t do it like they always have. They realize they have a job to do.
We do, too.
Our commitment to the mission of Jesus remains. So let’s reframe the question. Rather than “When can we get back to normal?” let’s ask ourselves “How can we be engaged?”
Reflect a little on Kiokee has focused more on how than when.
- Online worship and discipleship resources
- Online resources and packaged printed resources for parents
- Outdoor corporate worship at the pavilion
- Online Vacation Bible School
- Zoom Sunday School
- Outdoor K-Group meetings and Bible studies
- Meals for Columbia County families
- Three worship services
- Two Sunday School times
- Families worshiping at home with their children
- Utilization of RightNow media
Now consider how you might be involved.
You can pray. You can regularly come before our Father in heaven on behalf of the ministries of our church and in intercession for our community. You can ask God to give you clarity on ways you can engage during this time.
You can serve. Those of you in a ministry can continue to serve even though that serving may look different. Those of you looking for a place to plug in can do so. Click here to see a list of opportunities.
You can write notes of encouragement.
You can call someone you haven’t seen in a while.
You can text a verse or verses of Scripture to others.
You can purpose to gather together with God’s people in corporate worship.
You can invite your neighbor or coworker to come with you.
You can make a decision to engage more with online resources.
You can take a more active role in leading your family spiritually.
You can chose to have a spiritual conversation with someone at work.
You can memorize Scripture.
August is traditionally a time for renewed commitment. Students have a clean slate. Families get back into a regular routine. Let’s do something similar. Would you purpose this August to take your place on the field?
Your team needs you.
By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Philippians 3: 13 – 16 (MSG)