Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Soccer Camp 2007

Well, I'm a couple days behind on my blog. Usually I try to get these done on Sunday, but it just didn't work out for me this week. Nevertheless, I want to focus us all on Soccer Camp, which "kicked" off last night.

Soccer Camp is one of our ministries that I believe exemplifies who we are as a church at our best and our worst. First, our best:

  • Although other churches have followed our lead since its inception, we were one of the first churches in this area to offer a summer Soccer Camp instead of a traditional VBS, illustrating our commitment to innovative, relevant ministry that benefits our community.
  • Soccer Camp makes creative use of the resources that we have, such as our property and pavillion. We do a great job of using what God has given us in creative ways.
  • Soccer Camp taps into the growing popularity of youth soccer in our community, just like we always try to relate the Christian faith to our everyday lives.
  • Soccer Camp has consistently provided us with more first-time decisions for Christ than all our other ministries combined.
  • Soccer Camp has had a variety of people involved in all aspects of leadership and direction over the years, yet it continues to operate smoothly because we've refined many of the logistical issues down to a science. It is one of the many things that we do consistently and with excellence.
  • Soccer Camp fits in perfectly with our church's focus on children and families, communicating that kids are important to us.

But as we look at Soccer Camp with new eyes, it also reflects some of the major weaknesses that are evident in our church on a broader scale:

  • We've never examined the actual kingdom impact of Soccer Camp (how are we doing at reaching the unchurched?), focusing instead on overall numbers and running our program with excellence.
  • Very few of us have used it as an opportunity to invite our unchurched neighbors and friends to bring their kids to.
  • We have not developed new relationships with families as a result of Soccer Camp, since there is little interaction between parents and church people.
  • We have provided a "hospitality tent" with refreshments and information about our church, which demonstrates a "come-to-us" attitude instead of a "go-to-them" attitude.

My goal is not to put down Soccer Camp or those who have led it or been involved in it. Instead, I just want to point out that I think its strengths and weaknesses over the years line up exactly with our church's strengths and weaknesses over that same time period. So if we're going to develop and change as a church, becoming more effective at reaching out beyond ourselves, maybe one of the first things to change is how we think of Soccer Camp and what we do at Soccer Camp (since that's what we're doing this week!). Here are some ideas:

  • As we see parents sitting in the grass watching their kids, let's go to THEM! We can even take cookies and lemonade from the hospitality tent and bring them refreshments. Let's find out their names, where they live, what kids they go with, what they do for a living, and start building relationships.
  • Let's find out whether they attend a church, and let them know they'd be welcome here if they were looking for a church family.
  • Let's pray for the people we meet, and pray for ourselves that God would show us the opporutnities that we have to meet people and that he would use us to help bring someone into our church.

I love doing things excellently, and I'm proud of the excellence of our ministries here at Pathway. But I don't really care about excellence for excellence's sake. I want to be excellent so that we can be even more effective in accomplishing the overall mission of our church--to meet people where they are on their spiritual journeys and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. If we're not doing that, then nothing else matters, no matter how smooth and well-done it is. Let's make sure that this year, Soccer Camp is about accomplishing our mission! Go Team!

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