The Difference Between Sports and Church

I love sports.  Plain and simple.  Love them. Love them. Love them.

And in this day and age, sports have slowly overtaken church as maybe the primary “third place” experience for families. (The other two places being “home” and “school.”)

Is that good or bad … I am not sure.  Certainly a good athletic experience teaches in ways church can’t.  But maybe the reverse is true as well.

One paradigm  goes back to the concept we can form two types of communities … a community of interests or a community of commitments.

A Community of Interests

  1. Formed largely around a desire for success and winning (For a team that never wins it is hard to have a “good” experience)
  2. Includes two parties (Me/ You or Us/ Them)
  3. Requires a connection with like motivated/ minded/ skilled individuals
  4. Requires an evolving mastery of a certain skill
  5. Requires sacrifice on many levels, in which “liking it” ties ultimately to a desired level of success

A Community of Commitments

  1. Formed largely around a desire for meaning and service (For a church that never conveys deeper meaning to life or service, it is hard to have a good experience)
  2. Includes three parties that eventually yield to ONE (Me/ You/ God or Us/ Them/ God which eventually yields ONE)
  3. Requires a connection with similarly committed individuals
  4. Requires a sharing of skills
  5. Requires sacrifice on many levels, in which “liking it” takes a second seat to a core commitment to “just do it.”

Both types of communities are incredibly valuable.  And it is not a binary choice where we must pick either a community of interest or a community of commitments.  Both dovetail in many wonderful ways.

The worry for me is that with social media, youth sports etc… the draw of impassioned communities of interest far outweighs, in this cultural era we live in, the sacrificial beauty of communities of commitment.

Maybe there is more space for “both-and.”

As a Pastor some days it is hard to move a conversation with myself and with others from “What are you interested in?” to “What are you willing to commit to?”

With a big smile, before I turn on ESPN, maybe we can find more interest in commitment.



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