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Football and Church

Note the contrasts between the average football fan’s worship of a pigskin and the average Christian’s worship of God. Football fans pay a hefty sum to park their cars and walk a long distance to the stadium. The churchgoer expects free parking close to the building. Football contests are noisy with loud cheering and the enthusiasm of the fans. The churchgoer sits in grim silence, and objects to loud music. Football stadium seats are narrow, backless, and assigned. The churchgoer hates a hard pew and insists on a particular seat.

Football games always last well past three hours, and if they go to overtime, fans consider it a bonus. The churchgoer expects worship to take only an hour. If the service goes into overtime, the churchgoer displays great movements of agitation and frustration.

Actually, things don’t have to be that way. At my church, season tickets are free, and if you come early enough, you can sit in the same seat every week. Our seats are comfortable, the music is excellent, and the home team – Jesus – wins every time. And we try to keep it to an hour. By any measure, the best arena you will ever attend is the one down the street, with the steeple.

With a new year dawning, find a place of worship this Sunday.

Huddles

I was insecure as a child. I think it goes back to my infant years. When Mom used to rock me, she used those big rocks. My insecurities carried over to my teen years. When I watched football games on television and the teams went into their huddles, I thought they were talking about me.

Actually, there was a day when they didn’t huddle up at all. The quarterback would tell each player what to do. Then it all changed at the powerhouse of college football: Gallaudet University. Located in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet is a school for the deaf. The quarterback calls the plays by sign language.

In the old days, one of their quarterbacks noticed that the defense was watching him call the plays. So he asked the players to “huddle up,” so he could call the plays without being seen by the opposition.

The custom continues today, on the football field and in the church. Yes, in the church! In most churches, we are more concerned with “holy huddles” (meetings, gatherings in our buildings) than we are with putting points on the board (ministry, service).

Church, it’s time to break the huddle and run some plays!

Stuck

The 19th century evangelist, D. L. Moody, loved to tell the story of a man who was asked by his ten-year-old son, “Daddy, why don’t you ever to go church with us?”

The father replied, “I don’t need to go to church, son. My faith is established.”

Later that same day the man drove his horses out of the barn and hitched them to the buggy. As he and his son drove out of the yard, the horses became mired in a mud hole. The man tried in vain to extricate them, whereupon the boy observed, “They’re not going anywhere, Daddy. I believe they’re established.”

The Bible warns us, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as has become the habit of many.”

In America, that is so true! Most Americans skip church religiously. They come to church disguised as empty pews. I was raised going to church consistently, every Christmas and Easter.

Most of us think we are “established,” but we are really “mired in a hole.” We aren’t going anywhere. This Sunday, that can change for you. If you like, you can even come on your horse.

The Rushmore Report: Chick-fil-A Hosts Displaced Church in Virginia

Chick-fil-A is opening up a Virginia branch of their restaurant to host a church congregation that has been displaced. The White Oak Community Church recently arrived at their usual place of worship to be informed that the hotel could not host their weekly gatherings due to “building issues.” So, Chick-fil-A stepped in. The family friendly company has once again solidified its standing within the faith community.

A church member phoned her friend who managed the restaurant premises, when the need arose. “They are NOT open for business,” the church clarified in a subsequent Facebook post. “They have simply agreed to let us use their space for worship this week.”

Lead Pastor Dave Wilde, a veteran of the Marine Corp., also shared his appreciation for Chick-fil-A and its manager, sending a “huge thank you to Greg Williams and Chick-fil-A for graciously agreeing to host us next Sunday,” according to Fox News.

“If you’re a current or future attender, and you always wanted to worship in a restaurant setting, this is your lucky day.”

About the Author

Will Maule is a writer and editor of HelloChristian.com.

The Changing Face of Protestantism In America

For the first time in American history, there are now more Protestants in America who do not identify with a specific denomination or tradition than those who do, according to a new Gallup survey. In just 16 years, the number of Christians who said they belong to a specific denomination dropped from 50 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2016.

Overall, the number of Protestants in America has dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to just 47 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of people who claim to be Christians without a denomination has grown from nine percent to 17 percent. Baptists remain the largest denomination, with 10 percent claiming to be Baptists.

This confirms other evidence supplied by the Barna Group, which has found that the #1 reason people now attend church is to “touch God.”

It really doesn’t matter what label you wear. The question is whether or not you truly seek to touch God.

Funny Church Signs

I love funny church signs. In the old days when I was a youth minister, I was the guy who changed the sign in front of my church every week. I tried to be clever. My favorite was, “Try One of Our Delicious Sundays.”

Check these out . . .

“I wish Noah has swatted those two mosquitoes”

“Whoever is praying for rain can stop now”

“Hipster Jesus loved you before you were cool”

“God expects spiritual fruit, not religious nuts”

“I hate this church – Satan”

“God shows no favorites, but our sign guy does. GO CUBS!”

“God, help me be the person my dog thinks I am!”

These are all clever, to be sure. And they might even help bring people through the church doors. But what matters most about church isn’t what’s on the outside. And that includes the church name or denomination. What matters is what is happening on the inside. For a church where lives are being changed – that’s the best sign of all.

 

Is God in Church?

After attending church with his father one Sunday morning, a little boy knelt beside his bed to say his nightly prayers. Nothing could have made his dad more proud. He started with the typical things kids pray about: his dog, his cat, and his mean older sister.

Then the boy turned spiritual with his prayer. “Dear God, we had a really good time at church this morning. I wish you had been there.”

In a related story, two ministers were arguing over minor doctrinal issues one day. Finally, one said to the other, “Look, what are we fighting over? We are both trying to serve God. You do it your way and I’ll do it His way!”

Why do you go to church? Do you go to church? There have been many Sundays when I felt like the little boy. We had great services, but I didn’t really feel the holy presence of the Almighty.

Maybe the problem is we are too much like the two pastors. We squabble over the little stuff when we need to just seek the presence of God.

Nothing is worse than having church without God. But he is under no obligation to show up just because we call it “church.”

A Few Good Men

One of the great movies of recent years was A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson played the role of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup. In a courtroom scene, he bellowed to Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!”

The same could be said to the modern church. You want the truth? I’m afraid most of us can’t handle the truth. But here it is. Forty-six percent of people in their twenties say Christians get on their nerves. And only five percent of them are drawn to a church that bears a denominational name.

But most churches fall into one of two categories. We are a “checkmark church,” where we check off “I went to church today.” Or we are a “clown church,” driven by entertainment. And as a result, the church is losing ground.

We are like the Black Plague. In 1664, only a few cases were reported. By 1665, 590 died. And within a few years, 100 million were dead. Disease is like decay. It happens slowly.

The modern church must awaken to today’s reality. The world is hungry for Jesus. It’s not Jesus they don’t like; it’s the church. The way most of us are “doing church” isn’t working anymore. Does that make you angry? I told you, “You can’t handle the truth!”

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Take the Bait

We ought to go to church. I’ll share a little story that illustrates that. But first, a story of the preacher who did not go to church.

A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “What is this, a joke?”

Yes, that would be a joke indeed. The idea that the rabbi, priest, and minister would be in a bar – instead of at church – is a joke. But unfortunately, this is too common a practice – not for rabbis, priests, and ministers – but for the rest of us.

Here’s the little story that illustrates that fact. Johnny arrived to Sunday School late. Miss Watkins, his teacher, knew that Johnny was usually very punctual and asked him if anything was wrong. Johnny said no, that he had gone fishing with his dad, but a couple hours ago, his dad told him to leave the lake and go to church.

Miss Watkins was very impressed and asked the lad if his dad had explained to him why it was more important for him to go to church than stay at the lake, fishing.

Johnny replied, “Yes, he did. Dad said he didn’t have enough bait left for both of us.”

What about you? Every Sunday, the world will present you with a thousand excuses to skip church. Follow Johnny’s example. Don’t take the bait.

Stuck

The 19th century evangelist, D.L. Moody, loved to tell the story of a man who was asked by his ten-year-old son, “Daddy, why don’t you ever go to church with us?”

The father replied, “I don’t need to go to church, son. My faith is established.”

Later that same day the man drove his horses out of the barn and hitched them to the buggy. As he and his son drove out of the yard, the horses became mired in a mud hole. The man tried in vain to extricate them, whereupon the boy observed, “They’re not going anywhere, Daddy. I believe they’re established.”

The Bible warns us, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as has become the habit of many.”

In America, that is so true! Most Americans skip church regularly. They come to church disguised as empty pews. I was raised going to church consistently, every Christmas and Easter.

Most of us think we are “established,” but we are really “mired in a hole.” We aren’t going anywhere. This Sunday, that can change for you. If you like, you can even go to church on your horse.