Soccer or Football

I was talking to a friend this weekend who passed on an observation from someone else.

“Church can be like football or like soccer.”

This piqued my curiosity. I am a sports fan after all. I love to watch American football, but I enjoy playing soccer more.

A football game is equipment and support heavy. All the helmets and pads. Several referees. A special kind of field with marks every ten yards. To do it right, it takes a lot of effort and resources.

Soccer can be the essence of simplicity. You need a ball and two spots for goals. That’s it.

 The laws of soccer are actually very few, compared with the myriad of penalties and rules for what is acceptable in football. Try explaining to a football novice the difference between running into a kicker vs. roughing the kicker, or pass interference, or illegal formation. The wide receiver covered the tight end? What is that?

Of course kids can play a simple game of football in a park, and soccer can be done with huge stadiums and use a lot more resources. Still, the analogy holds: football is generally a lot of work to actually get to the game, while soccer can be done with a minimal of requirements.

When it comes to church, doing our Outreach Saga has convinced me that doing things simply like the soccer match is a valid way of meeting together as the body of Christ. I recognize that the big football game of Sunday morning church has its place and can do things we can’t do in our small group. However, I think both can be used to meet the needs of people around us.

Are we willing to do something small and simple to reach people, instead of always going for bigger and showier?

For now, God’s given me a soccer ball. I’m willing to play the game He’s put in front of me.

What do you think of the analogy? Does it ring true, or do you have a concern about it? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Olympic Prayer


If your house is like ours, the Olympics will be on television frequently over the next few weeks. I’ve been critical on this blog about China and its human rights record and the way Christians especially are treated. However, I view the Olympics at this point as an opportunity. I am disappointed that China continues to clamp down on its people and expression, as evidenced by various news stories in the last couple of weeks, but I don’t expect a tiger to change its stripes without divine intervention.

That is the opportunity presented to all of us enjoying the Olympics. I think Christians can take this chance to really pray and intercede for China and the other nations mentioned during the Olympics. I am very globally minded, but I understand that people in general aren’t thinking about various countries around the world. Use the Olympics as inspiration to pray for countries as you see events happen. A swimmer from Zimbabwe? A Brazilian beach volleyball player? A Sudanese track star? If the Holy Spirit stirs your heart, take time to pray for these nations. A great resource is Operation World, which has a nation a day for prayer. Of course it has very good information on China. We can especially pray for China while it is highlighted over the next weeks. If Beijing wanted to showcase itself and the country to the world, let’s pray that the Light of the world will illuminate the nation and touch the needy souls.

If you want to find a particular country on Operation World, just google the country’s name along with Operation World and it should come up easily.

Take this great opportunity presented to the church, to send prayer on behalf of other countries and peoples around the world from wherever we are!

Olympic Prayer


If your house is like ours, the Olympics will be on television frequently over the next few weeks. I’ve been critical on this blog about China and its human rights record and the way Christians especially are treated. However, I view the Olympics at this point as an opportunity. I am disappointed that China continues to clamp down on its people and expression, as evidenced by various news stories in the last couple of weeks, but I don’t expect a tiger to change its stripes without divine intervention.

That is the opportunity presented to all of us enjoying the Olympics. I think Christians can take this chance to really pray and intercede for China and the other nations mentioned during the Olympics. I am very globally minded, but I understand that people in general aren’t thinking about various countries around the world. Use the Olympics as inspiration to pray for countries as you see events happen. A swimmer from Zimbabwe? A Brazilian beach volleyball player? A Sudanese track star? If the Holy Spirit stirs your heart, take time to pray for these nations. A great resource is Operation World, which has a nation a day for prayer. Of course it has very good information on China. We can especially pray for China while it is highlighted over the next weeks. If Beijing wanted to showcase itself and the country to the world, let’s pray that the Light of the world will illuminate the nation and touch the needy souls.

If you want to find a particular country on Operation World, just google the country’s name along with Operation World and it should come up easily.

Take this great opportunity presented to the church, to send prayer on behalf of other countries and peoples around the world from wherever we are!

Seven Spheres – Government

Alright, time to wrap this one up. And yes, this is posted on Friday with a Wednesday date.

Did anyone guess what major area of society was left? Has anyone heard a little something about an election this year?

The final sphere of influence listed is Government. This is a no-brainer that it is an area that seriously needs positive influence. Since it leads and guides society in so many ways, it is imperative that Christians are willing to get the training to serve in such an important area.

I personally would want to see believers going into these areas to serve to truly act according to the mind of Christ as listed in Philippians 2. I get very tired of politicians who loudly shout of the evils of unrighteousness and tear down opponents in the process, even for a “good” cause. I am not the authority here, but I would rather see a politician or public servant who is humble, who works with people rather than against people, and find ways to make the best impact on culture without polarizing everything. Maybe the best example of this type of influencer would be William Wilberforce (though he could be polarizing when needed).

So that is it for discussing the Seven Spheres of Influence. I hope that we will see more Christians moving out into areas of culture intentionally, to make a difference through Spirit-led, Biblical principles. From Act One to International Justice Mission to Business Men’s Fellowship and many more examples, there are people working to make a change in our nation and in the world. Everyone is called to do something. We can even have Christians making godly highways. Or…something like that (just checking to see if Mark is paying attention).

Seven Spheres – Government

Alright, time to wrap this one up. And yes, this is posted on Friday with a Wednesday date.

Did anyone guess what major area of society was left? Has anyone heard a little something about an election this year?

The final sphere of influence listed is Government. This is a no-brainer that it is an area that seriously needs positive influence. Since it leads and guides society in so many ways, it is imperative that Christians are willing to get the training to serve in such an important area.

I personally would want to see believers going into these areas to serve to truly act according to the mind of Christ as listed in Philippians 2. I get very tired of politicians who loudly shout of the evils of unrighteousness and tear down opponents in the process, even for a “good” cause. I am not the authority here, but I would rather see a politician or public servant who is humble, who works with people rather than against people, and find ways to make the best impact on culture without polarizing everything. Maybe the best example of this type of influencer would be William Wilberforce (though he could be polarizing when needed).

So that is it for discussing the Seven Spheres of Influence. I hope that we will see more Christians moving out into areas of culture intentionally, to make a difference through Spirit-led, Biblical principles. From Act One to International Justice Mission to Business Men’s Fellowship and many more examples, there are people working to make a change in our nation and in the world. Everyone is called to do something. We can even have Christians making godly highways. Or…something like that (just checking to see if Mark is paying attention).

Seven Spheres – Media

(So no one noticed that this post is listed as Tuesday, yet it is coming out late Wednesday, right? Good.)

The series of Seven Spheres of Influence has the Media for a prayer emphasis on Tuesdays. I’m sure that many people would say that Christians should have a presence in the media. Then I’m sure that an equal number of people would say that we don’t need another Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. I’d say that both are true.

I don’t have anything against Fox News. Rush? Another story. But Christians in journalism and the media shouldn’t be shrill junkets that can’t speak credibly. Being called into the media as a mission field means that it will take great wisdom to speak truth. I would love to see reporters who can speak critically of things that deserve it, even within the church. Of course it will be nice to have people who come from a Biblical worldview when speaking of issues that deal with faith, but they really need integrity to speak accurately even when “our” position may be in the wrong.

One more day. Any guesses what we’ve missed?

Seven Spheres – Media

(So no one noticed that this post is listed as Tuesday, yet it is coming out late Wednesday, right? Good.)

The series of Seven Spheres of Influence has the Media for a prayer emphasis on Tuesdays. I’m sure that many people would say that Christians should have a presence in the media. Then I’m sure that an equal number of people would say that we don’t need another Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. I’d say that both are true.

I don’t have anything against Fox News. Rush? Another story. But Christians in journalism and the media shouldn’t be shrill junkets that can’t speak credibly. Being called into the media as a mission field means that it will take great wisdom to speak truth. I would love to see reporters who can speak critically of things that deserve it, even within the church. Of course it will be nice to have people who come from a Biblical worldview when speaking of issues that deal with faith, but they really need integrity to speak accurately even when “our” position may be in the wrong.

One more day. Any guesses what we’ve missed?

Seven Spheres – Family and Home

For those who may remember, there was a great book by Bob Briner that discussed the same topic I’ve been addressing lately: Roaring Lambs. I can’t believe it is from 1993! (How long ago was that again?) It may be hard to find now, but it should be well worth it. His idea was basically that Christians needed to be salt and light in the world. Definitely not a new concept, but it seems that God’s people constantly need reminding about getting out and reaching people. Just like the disciples who wouldn’t leave Jerusalem in Acts until there was persecution to force them out to Judea and Samaria.

Today’s sphere is the Family and the Home. This may not seem like a field that Christians would go out into as a professional, but there is no denying the influence that family and home has on culture in general and people specifically. We know that people can turn out well from broken households, and a good family is no guarantee of kids growing up well. Yet the vast majority will stay true to what they are raised with at home.

I think fields like counseling move into this arena. There’s a lot of secular ideology in the counseling and social work fields – all the more reason to have Christians who are strong in their faith and a Biblical worldview to enter this area to touch families where it is needed.

Everyday Christians can do a lot to minister to individual families of kids that come into their lives. Of course, prayer is a vital area, and this is one that we should not neglect. God longs to put the lonely into families – it is His heart, so it should be ours as well.

Seven Spheres – Family and Home

For those who may remember, there was a great book by Bob Briner that discussed the same topic I’ve been addressing lately: Roaring Lambs. I can’t believe it is from 1993! (How long ago was that again?) It may be hard to find now, but it should be well worth it. His idea was basically that Christians needed to be salt and light in the world. Definitely not a new concept, but it seems that God’s people constantly need reminding about getting out and reaching people. Just like the disciples who wouldn’t leave Jerusalem in Acts until there was persecution to force them out to Judea and Samaria.

Today’s sphere is the Family and the Home. This may not seem like a field that Christians would go out into as a professional, but there is no denying the influence that family and home has on culture in general and people specifically. We know that people can turn out well from broken households, and a good family is no guarantee of kids growing up well. Yet the vast majority will stay true to what they are raised with at home.

I think fields like counseling move into this arena. There’s a lot of secular ideology in the counseling and social work fields – all the more reason to have Christians who are strong in their faith and a Biblical worldview to enter this area to touch families where it is needed.

Everyday Christians can do a lot to minister to individual families of kids that come into their lives. Of course, prayer is a vital area, and this is one that we should not neglect. God longs to put the lonely into families – it is His heart, so it should be ours as well.

Seven Spheres – The Church/Religion

I have to say that I’m feeling pretty rushed through this little series, and I don’t feel like I’m always able to get my thoughts out the way I want. Before the end of the year, I’d post at lunch at work, and I had time to get my points together. Now I’m squeezing blogging into home and family time, and I fear I’m not coming across the way I want. But there’s nothing else to do but press ahead, for now.

One more thing to say in general regarding the Seven Spheres of Influence. Like I said originally, I learned this at YWAM. This teaching was meant to emphasize that we can be missionaries wherever we are called to. Not every one is meant to stay in YWAM – most aren’t in fact. The leaders there realized this, and began to work on training people to be missionaries in every field, not just under the specific term “missionary”.

Saying that, Sunday’s sphere of influence is actually the Church. Yes, the church needs people to come to it with the idea that they will do everything for God’s glory and to reach people with the gospel. It may be a sad thing to say, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. But it is also more benign than that. There is no denying that religion is a major sphere of influence in culture, and we need to recognize that.

I don’t pretend to have the goods to change the church in general. However, I hope my blogging can bring up issues that enlighten people to things they haven’t thought of. Also at church, I try to be a catalyst for things that God may be trying to show us there. Since I have had some varied experiences, I try to bring that to the table and offer it up for consideration.

We need to be as mission-minded in church as we are in any other endeavor we take on. It shouldn’t be overlooked just because it is our own backyard.