You Choose: Rivalry or Chivalry

I went to the Blue Ridge Jamboree last weekend and had a great time watching a number of different football teams play their first games of the season. Football is such a great spectator sport. The bleachers buzz with enthusiasm while parents, friends, and family all come together once again after a long year apart to start the season. Even the least of football fanatics can sense the excitement in the air when the first kickoff sails into the air. What a great game!

Let us talk a moment about our church community. For some people, their home church can be like their home team. This can be a great thing for any church to embrace. What do you notice first when you walk into a football stadium, even in the parking lot? Team colors! They are everywhere. There is no guesswork as to which set of bleachers is home and which is away. There is no doubt as to whether there is a game that Friday night, the lights are on, the parking lot is packed, and people are everywhere. Ridgeview should be the same way. When someone comes in the doors, it should be very obvious that this is not a PTA meeting, but a worship service. Our team “colors” (church logos, signs, info tables, and greeters) should be easily recognizable and discernable. Perhaps the most important thing to bring over from the game is that excitement and enthusiasm that comes out under the Friday night lights. Sunday mornings should also be warm and inviting, just like the fans that welcome one another back each week, wave to each other’s kids, and catch up on old times.

But there are negative things to be learned from a football game as well. This past week I sat with someone who unashamedly only roots for one team. According to this individual that “other” team always plays dirty, talks trash, gets the breaks from the referees, and has more money to spend on their budget. Churches do the same thing. If you have been around church people for a while, you know that there are rivalries there as well. That “other” church always talks like they are the only ones doing anything right, they waste their money on expensive furniture, paid musicians, and their Pastor has a pool at his house he didn’t pay for. Maybe they use fog machines, or maybe their pastor wears a robe and serves real wine for communion. The point is this: while rivalries between football teams are healthy, rivalries between churches are not.

It was said about Ridgeview “Those people do things differently over there.” This statement may certainly be true, but it was not intended to be a comment of constructive criticism. It was meant to be hurtful. Romans 15:5 says to “Live in complete harmony with each other - each with the attitude of Christ toward each other.” Enjoy the upcoming football season – cheer, stomp, spit, and growl if you want to. However, when you come to church each week, or when you talk to someone from a different church community, just be a fan that has a healthy amount of green and white Ridgeview spirit!


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