In my early years I was given the opportunity to work as an umpire. At the age of fourteen, wearing the uniform and calling people out though cool, was nothing compared to getting paid. At $10 per game (in the 80's), two games per night, and averaging 3 nights a week, I was doing alright. I umpired all through High School and even built an Umpire Association that handled games all over the DFW area. It was awesome and yet I learned quickly that the money was not as easy as it first appeared. Often I would hear the phrase (among others) "get real!" And as I was reflecting on that today I realized something incredible.
We know an umpire has to make tough calls, deal with dads reliving their youth and moms who can scream like no one else, and grandparents who just cannot see from the bleachers what can be seen on the field. Most nights there will be that one or two calls that make for some fireworks. I actually loved all of it. I did not worry when I got home and I never was scared during some of those intense moments (though I would be in 2010 I think!). Calling a play or a pitch was just that. I called them like I saw them. Umpires back then did not have instant replay as they do now. You saw the play and you called it. Some calls were good while others were pathetic. One's perspective usually decided one's response.
Perspectives have always played a role in sports and I am learning that today perspectives are playing a major role in churches and ministries. The human factor, as in umpiring, is prone to mistakes. But more than mistakes, the human factor can also be a path for missing God. In umpiring, it is just a game. In ministry, it is heaven or hell for people.
We are now living in the midst of one of the most challenging times in ministry. People no longer look to God's Word for their marching orders. Ministry is driven by human desires, likes, and preferences. Evangelism is often relative to one's perspective instead of God's directive. Trying to discern what REAL ministry is, and what REAL evangelism is can be troublesome it seams. Even the largest gathering of Baptist in the world approved a report this summer called the Great Commission Resurgence. But in passing the report, I wonder how many people realized that no where in the report was a definition of the Gospel or Evangelism?
We have churches today who take "mission trips" that are really glorified vacations. We have church members who will refuse to support reaching people in their own community for a number of reasons and yet dare to call the church they attend a ministry. We will send money all over the world and clothes the same, but will not spend more than 2% of a church budget (on ave) to reach children in our community.
We need an umpire like moment. The REAL is missing from Biblical Missions and Biblical Evangelism. America is proof that American Christianity loves the glory but will not sweat or sacrifice much to do the REAL. I Pastor a church that is breaking out of this norm. I serve and lead a national ministry that is charting the course of lean for the sake of churches and ministries all over America. Neither are easy. But the fruit of REAL compared to the norm of human ideas is staggering.
Try allowing God to be the umpire of your life. He NEVER makes bad or wrong calls. This week join me in asking some tough questions about life, ministry and evangelism. Is ministry and evangelism REAL or more about you? Are you a person who promotes and encourages your church to do more REAL ministry and evangelism? As our supreme play caller, only God should be leading us in these areas. Self should be out! Are you allowing God to make the calls?
People here at home and around the world need us to get busy doing the REAL ministry and REAL evangelism that God has so called each of us to.
It's time we "GET REAL!"