HH and I joke that – although I told him on our first date that I was a big sports fan – I am really just a college basketball fan. Actually, I am an ACC college basketball fan. Actually I am a Tarheels fan. Whatever.
I need to brush up on my Carolina Panthers fluency now that I live in Charlotte, but I do know that Efe Obada had an amazing game last weekend against Cincinnati.
Of course, this makes me think of church. Congregations need a stronger ground game these days. For generations, we have excelled at the Hail Mary in desperate times. The Church rises to the occasion in times of crisis – floods, fires, pastoral emergencies. But what makes a Church strong every day is its ground game:
- Is there a culture of deep hospitality? Don’t point people towards the coffee/bathrooms/nursery. Walk them to their destination. Use real half and half when serving coffee.
- Is there a culture of relationship-building? Instead of inviting people to “come to church” ask people about their lives. And don’t ask in order to scheme ways to lure people into the congregation. Don’t be fake. This is not a transaction.
- Is there a culture of genuine care? When we ask, “How are you this morning?” listen to the answers. Remember that the last time you saw that child, she was trying out for soccer. How did that go? Remember when someone mentions that his father is sick or her job is in transition. Follow up. Notice. Ask “How can I pray for you?” and then do it. Ask “Can I take you out to lunch this week?” and then do it.
- Is there a culture of excellent communication? Is our “prayer chain” merely a tool for sharing gossipy news or is it a way to deploy the Powers? Is information conveyed in multiple ways? Is it easy to find out opportunities/needs?
- Is there a culture of safety? Can I share my $^@# and not be shunned? Can I share my deep sorrow or my enormous joy and experience solidarity? Can I fail here? (I thought a pumpkin pie bake-off would be such a good idea.)
How’s our ground game? It’s one thing for a team to throw those long passes, but it’s another to successfully get the ball down the field surrounded by a team of both offensive and defensive players who make that possible.
Image of Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada whose life story is extraordinary. He’s one of those Miracle People I wrote about yesterday. Last weekend, in his first NFL game, he was awarded the game ball after a 10-yard sack, another quarterback hit and an interception.