Ultimate frisbee has come to Central Asia.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t say it like that, as though i’m the first person to bring a frisbee here. Nevertheless, every Friday for the past three weeks I’ve been playing ultimate frisbee with a bunch of local students, most of whom have never played it before. And it’s been fantastically fun.
For many of us, when we think of something as being “fantastically fun,” we think that that’s just an add-on to church. Something extra we do after we’ve done the real business of what church is, you know, like preaching the Gospel, administering communion, endless church board meetings.
Our “fun activities” usually only come after these important things, and they usually come in the form of things like church picnics, church BBQs, church car shows, and church basketball leagues. They are primarily things done to entertain ourselves. No wonder we don’t see fun things as being essential to church.
What if, instead of forming a church basketball team that is made up entirely of born-again Bible-believing saved evangelical churchgoers, members of the church join teams that already exist and that are made up of, gasp!, non-believers? What if instead of forming a church quilting circle, members of the church join a community quilting circle? What if we didn’t do these fun activities solely in the confines of the church, but in the larger community?
What I’ve seen, both in America and here, is that the most committed church members are often so busy doing church-based activities that they aren’t involved in any community activities. And then pastors wonder why their church-goers aren’t inviting anyone to church. The reason is because all of their friends are already at church.
My team leader from my first year here told me that “the Kingdom of God is founded in relationships.” If that’s true, then frisbee, basketball, chess club, water aerobics are as much a part of church as Sunday morning service. Because it is precisely in those settings that we encounter those to whom the Kingdom of God has yet to be made known and where we can be agents to bring about the Kingdom in their lives.
What do you think? Next time intramural basketball season rolls around, should we disband our church team and encourage congregants to join various teams in order to connect with non-believers? Should we be encouraging church members to join community-based clubs? Or am I off-base here?