Sunday, February 15, 2015

Join Em!

One of my favorite restaurants in Camarillo just closed.  The chef of the restaurant that closed is one of my personal friends, and I was sad to see his dream of an eatery that offered a "high-end gastronomical experience" come to an abrupt halt.  The reasons for the close of this restaurant were, of course, multi-fold: a tough economy, stiff-competition, the rising costs of food management service, and the difficulty of creating a "nitch" market in a town that is fairly well established.  Probably the most significant reason why the restaurant did not make it is because of an adjacent restaurant (quite literally a restaurant right next to his), that served the same type of food, and tried to reach the same clientele, and that is doing well.  In short, the competition won.

It was for all of these reasons that I was surprised this past week, when eating at my friend's competitor restaurant (the reason for the closure), that I saw my friend making food.  He was wearing his chef white's and calling orders and creating, as always incredible masterpieces  - in his arch-nemeses restaurant!  When I saw my friend, I expressed my flabbergasted amazement, "John, wow, what a surprise to see you here, cooking at the restaurant that has been your competition for so many years."  "Yes," he said, pausing for reflection.  "I have tried to compete with these guys for so many years.  But you know, we are really on the same team.  And I just like making food.  If I can't make it in my own restaurant, I will make it in my competitor's.  And you know, if you can't beat em...

Join Em!

What applies to the restaurant industry could equally apply to the church world.  In every town across the country there are hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of struggling churches.  Each of these churches are wracked with the difficulty of dwindling resources, aging congregations, flagging emotional and spiritual reserves, and diminished impact in the community.  But the thought occurred to me, what if these churches, instead of competing with one another would join forces, and try to work together on the same team.  What if, instead of each having ten kids in their youth programs, they combined forces (say three or four churches joined together), and had thirty of fourty kids.  What if instead of having mediocre worship bands, thinning choirs, and collapsing buildings, they came together and formed incredible transformational worship bands, breathtaking large choirs, and church facilities that were like college campuses in terms of their power to meet the needs of a community.  What if churches, instead of trying to beat each other, decided that they would…

Join Em!

I grew up in Salt Lake City Utah, and therefore, was an avid Utah Jazz basketball fan.  I can still remember my whole family bouncing up and down in giddy teenage excitement, clapping our hands in front of our mouths as the Utah Jazz advanced time and again to the National Championship Finals.  It would happen more often than I can count.  And then, at some point in the Finals, John Stockton (yes I am getting old:-), and Karl Malone would choke, and the season would be up, and the Utah Jazz would lose, and go home once again without a National Championship title.  Towards the end of his career, Karl Malone had a tough decision to make.  Should he stick with the Utah Jazz and advance to the Finals once again, without a title to show for it, or would he join the competition - the Los Angeles Lakers.  Karl decided that if he couldn't beat em, he would…

Join Em!

He finally won a National Championship when he set down his ego and decided that the higher end of winning was more important than staying on the team that he was on which never won.

What if churches had the same philosophy?  What if churches decided that winning people to eterninty-long transformational relationships with Christ, was more important than sticking with their own team?

I mean, when it boils down to it, in the face of the earth shattering and startling news that ISIS has just decapitated 21 of the most storied and ancient Christians on the face of the earth (the Copts in Egypt), is there really that much difference between the many different brands of Lutheranism, Methodism, Baptists, Pentacostals, Charismatics, and Non-Denoms?  Yes, the variances in the significant differences between churches shouldn't be glossed over.  Yes, doctrinal and theological nuances are important.  It's just that it would be so heart warming to experience a true transformational moment in Christianity in America, in recognizing that what divides us is sometimes not as great as what unites many of us.  It would be so great if more churches joined forces and got a great big win!  And hey, if you can't beat em…

You know:-)

All For Now,

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