Armchair Quarterbacking and the Church

Armchair quarterbacking isn’t just a description for sports fanatics who party hard and offer unsolicited advice to coaches and players. The church is full of the same kind of couch potatoes, too. So many people try to enjoy the benefits of Christianity and the church without contributing anything themselves. I’m a bit tired of hearing churches complain about their pastors, when they themselves don’t offer to do anything to help. I also tired of pastors who say that they didn’t do such-and-such because that wasn’t what God called them to do as clergy. Give me a break! Being a follower of Christ pushes us past our comfort zones. If not, then our Christianity and our call are called into question. Jesus said, “If anyone would be my disciple, he or she must take up a cross and follow me.” There is no comfort in cross bearing.

Being Christian certainly places demands upon a person. Church is not a spectator sport. Like fall football games, one has to get into the game and contribute to earn a letter. The church throughout the ages has been called to be active players for Christ. In our United Methodist vows for membership people are supposed to uphold the church by their prayers, presence, gifts, service and, newly added, witness for Christ. Being a witness for Christ should have been assumed all along, especially since, in Acts 1:8, Jesus said that we would be His witnesses from home to everywhere. The scary part is that the Greek word for “witness” is the root of the word, martyr. For centuries, Christians knew that their faith was synonymous with martyrdom, a willingness to die for Jesus.

How unlike today, we might assume. Yet, Christians are still put to death for their faith in places like the Middle East, Sudan and India. Self-sacrifice and cross-bearing are happening in the U.S., too. At charge conferences I hear how individuals and churches have been witnesses. I have seen real discipleship. I have heard reports about mission trips to Colombia and Nicaragua, Salkehatchie Summer Service, support for Killingsworth Home for Women, Epworth Children’s Home, Sistercare, Oliver Gospel Mission, countless food pantries and so many more ministries. The list could go on and on!

However, the 80/20 rule does bother me. A common theme is how so few do so much in our communities and in the life of our churches. The 80/20 rule states the obvious – 80 percent do 20 percent of the work and 20 percent do 80 percent. Authentic Christianity is defined by the 100/100 rule. By virtue of our baptism every Christian is called to ministry. One hundred percent of us are called to do one hundred percent of the work, with one important qualification. We are to give and serve according to our abilities. Not all of us can go overseas or preach a sermon. Not all of us can give thousands of dollars to the work of the church. But, we can all give and do our fair share as God has blessed us. Therefore, we should give and do as God has given and done for us!

I’ve got some churches and pastors freaking out about metrics. I’m not a personal fan of them myself if they are used against a church or pastor. I think that they are great if they help a church gauge how it is doing and then reset their priorities, goals, and strategies. I like what Bonnie Ricks said, “Our actions are a reflection of our faith, not a report card.” Frankly, though, they are a little bit of both. They are a reflection of our faith and faithfulness and should be a report card spurring us on toward love and good deeds. Halfwayness and mediocrity is killing us! We need people to be all-in for Jesus!

Several children were bored until one of them suggested that they play church. They played for a while, but were soon bored again. Then, one of the little boys said, “Hey! I got it! Let’s play Jesus!” The other children asked, “How do you do that?” The boy said, “Well, first you would be mean to me, and tie me up. Then, you would pretend to hit me, and spit on me, and call me names.”

The children decided to try it for a while, but they quickly felt repulsed by their own actions. They stopped, uncomfortable with this game. The boy playing Jesus was especially anxious to quit. He said, “Let’s not play Jesus any more; let’s go back to playing church!”

Do you want to play church or be the church? It ain’t for the faint of heart!

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