I love college football. The atmosphere, the hype, the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat, it’s all incredible. My ESPN app and I have a pretty good relationship from August to January. It causes you to be happy when things are going well or a bear to be around when things don’t turn out how you had hoped they would. There are always surprises in the season and it usually never ends the way you thought it would. I love the student section of stadiums full of college students with their faces painted. I love the marching band playing the fight song as their team comes running out of the tunnel. I love it.
I also love the local church. It never gets old seeing people come to a saving faith only found in Jesus Christ. My heart is full when worshiping along side passionate followers of Jesus. I rejoice seeing one minister to a family in need in the name of Jesus. It makes my day seeing someone give their life to Jesus and then publicly sharing their decision through believer’s baptism.
In both of these “arenas” I love seeing the next generation lead out.
Here is the all too often sad reality… people are way more passionate about things that won’t last or that don’t have any eternal significance. I believe we can learn a lot about people from observing the college football environment. Some of the same fans that are screaming for their team to go for it on 4th and 1… come in our doors Sunday morning for church. They lead small group bible studies, hold babies in the nursery, volunteer in student ministry, or serve as deacons. Therefore this leads me to this conclusion: It’s not a lack of passion its a lack of priority.
Allow me to explain…
1. People are full of passion.
Ministry Implication: People are full of passion; we must capitalize on this. If people are passionate about their team scoring a touchdown then they can be just as passionate about making the name of Jesus famous. What makes people passionate? I believe it’s the idea that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is 100% true and 100% bigger than anything we could ever do on our own. Jesus is that amazing. Jesus and His message are worth it.
2. People love community.
Ministry Implication: If people can gather around a common goal outside the walls of the church then why can’t they do the same within the walls of the church. Then, as a community of believers, make a difference in the world. Scripture teaches us where two or more are gathered He, Jesus, will be there also. He will be their to lead, guide, and direct us. He is the focus every single time we gather. Whether its gathering to worship or gathering in small group bible study, people love community.
3. People will spend time, energy, and resources on what they love.
Ministry Implication: More times than not, the issue is not money or time, it’s priority. Here is what I have learned about people since I have been on staff at a church, people will always make the time for what means the most. I even see this within leadership. I asked a pastor one time what his response would be if I told him, “I don’t have time for ‘that’ right now.” He responded with, “That tells me ‘it’ is not important to you.” Whatever we are most passionate about, we will run the hardest after.
4. People have the potential to be committed to something long-term.
Ministry Implication: Someone once told me, “The only thing this generation is committed to is being uncommitted.” While I understand the thought here and there is probably a lot of truth in this statement, I don’t fully agree. I, again, think they are just selectively committed on what really matters the most to them. A true, born and bred, devoted college football follower stays committed to their team no matter what. They just don’t show up on Saturday, they talk about it during the week and usually with others.
The bottom line…
I love the passion in college football fans. Again, I’m one of them. I love the fact that they put their all into it. What bothers me is when the same people who are “Christ followers” are too tired to go to church the next day. They say they don’t have the time to serve a family in need. After all… whatever we are most passionate about, we will run the hardest after.
Acts 20:24 (HCSB), “But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”