Having been caught up in World Cup fever, I vowed to never eat German chocolate cake following the USA’s loss to Germany in the round robin portion of the tourney. Following the USA’s loss to Belgium in the knock out round, I committed to a lifelong fast of Belgium waffles. Truth be told, I never eat German chocolate cake or waffles so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice on my part. It’s a good thing that the USA never played France because I don’t know that I could have made a similar boycott of French fries or French vanilla ice cream.
With the World Cup mania still kicking around in my head (Did you see what I did there? The World Cup is “kicking” around in my head! Ha!), I am left wondering what church would be like if it was more like the colossal, every four year soccer tournament.
Here are a few of my conclusions. If my church was like the World Cup…
• I would refer to my Sunday preaching apparel as a “kit,’ the lawn in front of the church as “the pitch” and the ushers would forever be known as “linesmen.”
• I’d hand out yellow cards when someone didn’t volunteer for nursery duty or forget to silence their phone before a church service.
• They’d get a red card for bringing a tuna casserole to a church pot-luck.
• I’d use that foam stuff and draw a line at the back of the sanctuary and say you must sit in front of that line.
• If Luis Suarez (the soccer player from Uruguay that bit the player from Chile) ever attended the church I would require him to memorize Ephesians 4:31: Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
• To discourage excessive flopping… oh wait a minute, I pastor a Nazarene church—we rarely flop in the aisles and we frown on anything that would be described as “excessive.”
• I’d whistle the greeters for being offsides if they miss saying hello to a parishioner entering a door.
• Before a different pastor could stand to receive the offering, make the announcements or pass the peace, I would require a digital board being held by guy on the edge of the platform silently announcing their entrance into the service.
• There would be stoppage time at the end of the worship hour (various times could be added depending on how fast the ushers “ush” and the singers sing) giving me a few extra minutes for sermonizing.
• There would be a non-stop drone of shouting, whistling and noise making throughout the service, while it may hinder the proclamation of the Gospel such crowd racket would also drown out the noise of babies crying, cellphones ringing or the snoring that occasionally occurs in those less than riveting sermons.
• Instead of seventeen verses of “Just as I am,” to indicate that we are done, a referee could blow a whistle a couple of times and waves his arms above his head and we’d all shake hands and wish one another well until we meet again.
• And at the end of every service there would be orange slices and Capri Sun for everyone (Were the moms of the players at the World Cup passing out treats like they used to when my boys were little kickers?).
OK, it’s painfully obvious there is not a lot of cross over between the World Cup action and the church I pastor. Still I would hope we are as passionate about Jesus as people are cheering for their country and team. I would hope that we realize while we may not be playing for a golden cup, but we are in a race toward a prize. Paul said it this way: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
Our favorite team may lose the World Cup but let’s not lose out on the prize that matter’s most.