In response to “Sports vs. Church”

Before you read the following thoughts and comments, consider reading the blog post that sparked them. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. But, I suggest you do.

I initially read this blog post about two weeks ago. I wanted to respond to it immediately. I didn’t. I re-read it this morning. I still want to respond to it. So, I will.

Normally I write in a particular style. That ain’t happening this go ‘round, for the most part, because I just can’t with this one. I could if I had just one or two things to say but I have six quotes with six responses. I say this as a warning: there’s a chance this piece will be slightly longer than my others.

The best way for me to organize all of this content isn’t too creative. Ready? Blogger mom says:

1. “There are many reasons that we come to the decisions that keep our families away from church. I completely understand how we get there – but I also know the long term effect that missing church will take on our families. And that’s the predicament that has been tormenting me.”

First of all, I would like to distinguish the difference between being kept away from church and missing/skipping church. I don’t want to publicly embarrass the author for being unclear, but I kind of have to because, well, they are two completely different things.

Second of all, “I also know the long-term effect that missing church will take on our families”? Seriously? A) It is impossible she knows the long-term effect because this was written in November. B) I understand that church is important to this woman but church is not the only place for community – church is not the only place to worship – church is not the only place to grow in relationship with our Creator.

2. “I have noticed that our society is set up to undermine this discipline of regular fellowship with our church family.”

Oh boy. (Grace, Maggie. Grace.) To blame society on her inability to see church outside of the physical structure itself is a little ridiculous and frankly irresponsible. Again, fellowship does not have to happen just inside a church. Church family does not have to be maintained just inside a church. Ma’am, I don’t think society is out to get us spiritual folk.

3. “So unless we are very vigilant to protect our church commitment, we can quickly find that one Sunday missed has become many Sundays missed, and before long church has ceased to be a habit and is reduced to something we do when we don’t have anything else to do on Sunday mornings.”

This language of undermining, vigilance, protecting is not helpful. Yes, we should be reflective but no we should not have to “protect our church commitment.” If she is attempting to protect her and her family’s church commitment from society, she is doing a disservice not only to her and her family but the world. We are created to work alongside one another in all settings through all things. We are called to bust down walls, not throw more up.

On church being a habit: yikes. It is my opinion that going to church should not be a habit but a desire – a desire to want to worship and connect with our Maker and our community of faith. Again, I say that we can do those things anywhere.

4. “Church attendance is not the goal…however, church is the way that God has provided for people to grow in their knowledge and love of who God is and build relationships with other disciples and from this time of focusing on Jesus and connecting with others who love Jesus we can go out into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ and his love with others.”

First of all this run-on sentence is just too much I can’t handle it because it drove me nuts when I first read it and it still drives me nuts when I read it again. (That was rude. Sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.) I will refer to my response to #1 and #2.

5. “What if our children get to their early 20’s and have no relationship with God or other disciples of Jesus? Will we look back and say, ‘Well, at least they made it to the championships!’? Or will we look back with regrets and disappointment that our priorities were not reflected on our calendar?”

To the mother directly, I ask: What if they do? Will you not love them anymore? Is the only thing you want your children to be when they grow up is Christian? I’m not a parent. But I know that I want my children, more than anything, to feel loved, encouraged, learned, and supported. In all honesty, if my children decide in their 20s to not go to church, then it is what it is. Going to church should not define who we are. How we live should.

6. “What if we ALL joined together and said, ‘NO! No more sports on Sundays!’?”

To the mother directly, I say: That is not the only way to solve the problem. Again, refer to #1 and #2. But seriously, refer to #1 and #2. I am pro for one habit. It’s being open to and aware of those little things in everyday life that widen your eyes or legitimately warm your heart. Seeing and feeling those little miracles clears a space where it is you and God, right there, as real as ever. And that habit of being open to and aware of those little things can even happen at soccer games.

Let me be clear. I am NOT saying that church is not important. It is indeed important. However, it is not the only important thing in our spiritual lives. To the mother, I directly suggest: give your family a little grace. Don’t let missing some Sundays here and there break your relationship with God. After all, is this the way your husband feels? Is this the way your child feels? Is it possible that you would just rather be at church than a soccer game in the middle of November? If church is so important to you, then bring church with you. I’m not going to prescribe what a Sunday service at a soccer field should look like because it is what you make it.

Besides the positive contributions sports provide to the development and health of children, like team-building skills, communication skills, physical activity which promotes mental activity, as a 27 year-old woman who grew up playing competitive soccer with Sunday games, I am beyond all things grateful for parents who supported me in doing what I loved. Those missed Sundays weren’t missed in the grand scheme of things.

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