I believe that the conversation matters. If in the attempt to realize the reign of God on earth, we cannot engage one another in respectful and grace-filled dialogue, we might as well not even try.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The Royals and the Chiefs: Contrasting Attitudes
Now, the Kansas City Royals have been clinging to 99 losses for three games in a row. Each game has given them the opportunity to lose their one-hundredth of the season, but each of the last three games they have managed to avoid triple digits in the loss column. They have another opportunity tonight against Cleveland, so we'll see what happens. I am not overly optimistic. Now, the Kansas City Chiefs have begun the season with two straight wins. The first game was against a playoff team and the second was on the road agaist a divisional rival, and they looked good in both games - not great, but pretty darn good. Monday night they go to Denver to play the Broncos, another divional road game that they can win. I am stoked!
What is the difference? Well aside from being two different sports and noting that the Royals players are awful whereas the Chiefs have actual talent, there is a different mindset, a different attitude. The Royals are waiting to lose, the Chiefs know they can win. These contrasting attitudes affect how they play their respective games.
I was just at a district committee meeting to consider the health of a recently started church in the area, and that new congregation's proposal to buy a building and some property. In the discussion around the table, I heard some contrasting attitudes about the church. Some were cautious, uncertain if this little start-up congregation should take on such a big risk as this property, which features a large building and 19 acres of land. But some were advocating that the congregation go for it and sell its current assets in order to buy this new property and follow where God's vision was leading them.
In short, some people were playing the game just waiting to lose, while some were playing believing we can win. It is a metaphor, so there is a limit to its effectiveness, but I think it is instructive for how we approach life together as the church. Without delving into the whole"winners and losers" identification, I think we can learn a lot about expectations, attitudes, and self-fulfilling prophecies.
A healthy church is going into each "game" expecting to "win." Drawing on the talent within the congregation, there is excitement and energy flowing, there are new and creative ideas being generated, there is warmth and openness, and people feel good about the team. An unhealthy church is going into each "game" trying to avoid a "loss." Struggling to maintain the status quo, there is rigidity and stubborness, there is that old lethargic "we have always done it this way" mentality, and people wonder why they bother to keep coming week after week except by some sense of duty or obligation.
I am humbled and happy to be a part of a church that expects to win every game we play. This congregation is remarkable, and I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be here. We are definitely a "Kansas City Chiefs" kind of church; we expect to win every game!