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November 7, 2013, 9:08 AM

Play Like Champions Today...... and SkyMall.

Its not often I get to work SkyMall magazine into a blog title, so I jumped at the opportunity! I was perusing said magazine whilst waiting for that magical clearance of 10,000 feet to re-engage the book I was reading electronically on a recent flight.  This sign caught my eye:  "Play Like Champions Today" signed by the great Lou Holtz from Notre Dame Football (item #SSM184).  A sign like this hangs above the exit of the Notre Dame locker room for players to tap on their way onto the field.  Its a simple reminder that if you want to be a champion, you play like a champion, no matter the month, score, or opponent.  

I wondered what would happen if I hung a sign like this on the way out of the auditorium at the church I serve in KC.  Well, lo and behold, I visited a church that had just such a sign hung above its main door that very week.  I spotted it from afar and had to make the trek back there to read its inscription.  It said:  Leave to Serve.  I then knew what I would find on the other side of the door, and my suspicions proved true: Enter to Worship was pasted above the door to motivate upon entry.  

My curiosity was piqued and I decided that I needed to see if this sign elicited any response, or attention at all.  Neither did.  In fact, I noticed another alarming tendency:  while this door was used for an entry, I saw few using it to exit.  I wonder if this sign did indeed have an impact on the people, much like the decree to Play Like Champions Today does to the football players at Notre Dame.  

I do believe this sign creates conflict among those passing under its command.  If you jump up and hit the Champions sign, you are declaring to everyone that you WILL play like a champion and that your team can count on you to elevate your game to that level. If you dont play like a champion, you have lied to your teammates.

What are we saying if we walk under the sign telling us to Serve and do nothing? After all, when we walked in we were totally fine with the Worship part.  In fact, we have very strong opinions about how good we are at worshipping and how others obviously missed the part where their worship was declared wrong.  We take pride in our ability to gather on time, walking in with high expectations of what is going to be presented.  We enter expecting great things....... but are those expectations being realized on the way back into the World?  Are we walking away from our well-dressed, orderly gathering to take the energy and passion of a limitless and loving God outside these attractive and safe walls?  

Nope.  We're not.  In fact, we're probably looking for another door, with a less descriptive charge on it.  Maybe a "Leave with Good Intentions" sign would be the exit we want.  I'm betting we'd have a ton of traffic under the "Just Leave, and Maybe Get a Bite to Eat" door, as that affirms in us to do what we were going to do anyways.  

The sign thing has pushed a greater concern into the forefront of my mind, and it has nothing to do with a sign.  It has everything to do with us and how we view the Church, our Leadership, and our role in both.  I cant tell you how many times, how many conversations have revolved around a question or statement like this:  "I wish this church would just ____________________."  Or a question like this: "Why cant someone here ___________________?"  These are verbal clues to a greater problem staring down the throat of the Western Church.  
We are viewing our Church, our Leadership like shopping malls; places we go to window shop and occasionally plop down some money on what we think is a solid investment.  Afterward we walk away wondering what windows will be there next week for us to peruse, and whether or not we should go find another mall with different windows for us to discover.  

To be plain: the health of the Church and the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be left up to the power of church staff and a small group of men judiciously elected.  If we want a healthy Church, what are we doing to create a healthy church with healthy ministries?  If we want a community to know us what are we doing to model the Bride of Christ to them (outside of looking dapper on Sunday mornings)?  

If you find yourself asking questions like "Why doesnt this church just _________________?"  Or "Why dont the elders ______________________ instead of asking for someone else to do it?";  Perhaps the next question should be: "What am I doing to Play Like a Champion Today?"  

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