Basketball is my favorite sport. I started playing when I was 10, and stayed on the court through high school, college, and seminary. I even played with the church team my first year or two after ordination. I coached my daughter’s teams for 8 years, and I’m still refereeing 50-60 games a year. I love the flow of a well-played game, and the team work evidenced in a selfless pass that leads to a score; or a double team on defense that results in a turnover.
But if I think about my approach to parish ministry and my work as a pastor, I find myself thinking more like a football player. Because rather than the “up and down the court” nature of a basketball game, our life and ministry as Cross Lutheran Church seems to me to be more about trying to make small “gains” consistently–like a “ball control offense.” Our preaching and teaching and pastoral care, our Sunday School classes and Bible studies, our caring for each other, welcoming newcomers, reaching out to serve in the community at John Glenn School or the Ramsey County Homeless Shelter often seem to me more like trying to make a few first downs than a fast break lay up.
Maybe sometimes we “score big” but sometimes we also have to “punt” on an effort that is not working, or to which we can no longer commit.
Sometimes I feel I’m the quarterback, but at other times I’m one of the linemen trying to help someone else “gain some ground”; or the manager who picks up the towels in the locker room and brings a drink to the players on the field during a time out.
Maybe what’s most critical is that I remember it’s a team game, and if we work together we’re more likely to resemble the Body of Christ that we are and are called to be.