As the United States soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup, America must wait another 4 years to impress the world with our skills. An interesting set of 4 games that they played still had them losing in the first knockout round. Americans don’t like to lose. America’s reputation is often that we think we are the best at everything, so we wrestle with reasoning when we don’t when.
If you watch ESPN, there are many theories out there to why they lost. A common theory to why America can’t ever make it far in soccer tournaments is what I will call “competing systems.” The countries that win soccer tournaments are countries where soccer is the only sport or one of a couple of sports that is played in that country. If you go to the streets of Brazil, you don’t see kids playing soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, football, etc. You see them playing soccer. All of them. So if you want to get on a sport team in that country, you work hard at soccer. And the sheer number of players makes everyone step up their game just to get a place on a pickup game.
Not so in America. What if you took all of the USA’s greatest athletes and restricted them to one sport? What that sport’s talent rise? Of course it would.
There would be focus.
Let me ask you another question: is there a possibility in your church that some of your programs are subpar because you have too many of them?
Andy Stanley speaks about competing systems in churches. They are the activities and programs within the same church that actually compete with each other for volunteers, money, and publicity.
I spoke with a church leader recently about this issue. He was struggling with trying to get enough volunteers in one of his children’s ministries. The only problem was they had way too many programs for a church that size (or really any size). I asked him if the qualities of all those ministries were on the same level (by quality, I don’t mean flashy, I mean effective). Absolutely not. Then I asked him what would happen if you combined all the volunteers, leaders, and budget money from all those ministries, what would happen?
He stated, “It would probably be the best thing for kids any of us have ever seen.”
What about other churches? Last night, we just participated in an event where 22 churches came together. It was great. Unity is a great thing. Where churches get it wrong is when we begin to compare with one another. If a church down the road from you has a great singles’ ministry, that doesn’t mean that you have to have one. Maybe you should send singles looking for a ministry like that to your family at the other church (crazy, I know)!
Here’s the walkaway today, people:
- Be all things to all people, but that doesn’t mean you have to have all programs for all people. The gospel is sufficient.
- Get volunteers of all ministries to realize they are on the same team.
- If a church down the road has a great ministry, praise God for it, pray for it, and support it, DON’T feel pressure to imitate it or compete with it.
- Check your calendar. Programs and activities will take the time of your people, is it the BEST way they could be spending their time?
If you don’t address some of these issues, you might be waiting another four years for a shot at greatness.