Playing Church Part 1

So, this is what it feels like to write…

:0)

Just because I haven’t put pen to paper (figurative) doesn’t mean the thoughts haven’t been turning. Today I’m going to start a post I’ve been promising for a while. I say “start” because I’m hoping to get some feedback, which might grow this into a conversation more than a “blog” or “devotion”… This depends on YOU! Please join in!!!!

“You will play exactly as you practice.” A phrase I found my self thinking and verbalizing quite a bit during softball this year. Someone wouldn’t practice at 100% or would do something they knew they shouldn’t do, and I’d hear, “I won’t do that in a game, Coach.”

Typically I would just shake my head, but inside I was screaming…”YES! You WILL do that in a game because it is how you are training your body to respond!!! You will perform during games exactly how you perform during practice.”

It sounds so simple. Practice with the same intensity, the same purpose, that you intend to display during competition. This is what successful people do.

It is soooo not simple.

The week prior to Easter I found myself becoming excited, anticipatory, of our Easter service at church. I couldn’t wait to see what Easter blessings would unfold during our service as visitors typically attend for the holiday service. What would happen during that service?

Would revival break our? Would someone get filled with the Spirit and start shouting? Would someone accept Jesus Christ as their Savior? Would someone answer the call to full-time ministry? To full-time missions? To preaching? Teaching?

In my mind, our Easter 2011 service was going to be an AMAZING spiritual experience. I could totally feeling the mighty rushing wind filling our sanctuary. I couldn’t wait to lift my hands in praise, to join in the shouting, to worship my risen King with total abandon.

All the sudden a phrase popped in to my mind. “You will play exactly as you’ve practiced, Carrie.”

What? I don’t “practice” for church!

Of course we do. Every single Sunday that we attend church we are at “practice”. If we lift our hands in praise on a “regular” Sunday, then that’s how we’ll respond on a “special” Sunday. If we shout, we’ll shout. If we listen to God’s bidding, then we’ll respond. But if we simply go through the motions of “church” each week, then that is exactly what we’ll do during “special” services.

I pondered the visitors I was expecting. Who were they? Who was going to bring them? Who did I invite? The only visitors I could count on were the ones I planned to bring.

Guess what? Everyone I invited showed up. That’s because I didn’t invite anyone. I was waiting, I guess, for someone else to do it.

I’m not good at that. I can’t talk to people about God, about Jesus, about church in a way that makes them want to come. I can teach. I can worship. You get them there! I’ll help minister to them once they come in the doors.

That’s crazy, isn’t it? To expect someone else to get people to church. Want to know why no visitors showed up for Easter? Because Carrie didn’t practice the way she intended to play. She didn’t invite people for the few months before Easter, therefore she didn’t invite people to the “big” day.

Do want to know what else didn’t happen during that service? I didn’t worship with total abandon. I didn’t shout during the sermon. I didn’t feel the mighty rushing wind as the Spirit filled the sanctuary to overflowing. I left church disappointed.

Why? Did God decide not to show up on Easter morning? NO! God was there, just like He is every other Sunday. I hadn’t practiced the way I intended to play.

How often do we feel disappointed in our intensity of worship? How often is it simply because we don’t behave the way scripture instructs us every week?

Please join in this conversation on how we as Christians “play” church.

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