(Lesson 1) The Invitations – What CrossFit Taught a Pastor About Church

community1Intro – The Yellow Line

Everyone has potential to be a better version of themselves. Yet we have narratives that sabotage our efforts. Maybe the only thing standing in the way of becoming the person God has in mind is a person willing to invite us to consider a different story.  My first invite was from Dave.

In November of 2014 while attending my daughter’s Daddy Daughter weekend I met Dave. Dave is the father of one of my daughter’s roommates. He’s a great father around my age. Works full-time and is successful. None of this surprised me. What surprised me is when Dave shared with me he had been attending CrossFit; known as going to “the Box”. It changed his life. He goes at least five days a week and had been doing that for over a year. I was skeptical at first but the physical benefits he shared were profound.  Why did Dave attending CrossFit surprise me? Because Dave reminded me of me. And I never imagined myself being capable of doing CrossFit. In my mind CrossFit overflowed with well toned 20 and 30 somethings with zero percent body fat. So not me! CrossFit was not for 50 years with more aches and pains than they care to acknowledge. Dave invited me to imagine I was capable.

Five months later CrossFit came up in conversations at Jake and Hope’s wedding.  Jake and Hope were the people I pictured at CrossFit. In their 20s and 30s, well toned, and voted most likely to be on the cover of a fitness magazine. Hope and Jake enjoyed regular CrossFit attendance and encouraged me to give CrossFit a try. They assured me CrossFit’s benefits were within my reach. They described CrossFit as more than just a workout. CrossFit is a community known for encouraging, supporting, and challenging one another. Hope and Jake invited me to imagine exercising with supportive encouraging people who want me to succeed as much as I wanted to succeed.

Then there’s my new neighbor Ron. Ron shocked me when he told me he attended CrossFit. Why? Because Ron is 20 years older than me! If someone in their 70s can do CrossFit, someone their 50s is capable! And then Ron, one of the kindest men I know, extended an unexpected invitation, “Hey Mark, what if I take you the first time. What time works best for you?” Ron’s invitation was to consider I was worthy of a person being inconvenienced for my convenience.

Every invitation was important and necessary for writing a new narrative. In direct opposition to my past narratives, I accepted their invitations. Because each invitation became the beginnings of new narratives.

  • I am capable
  • There are benefits
  • I have something to offer
  • Acceptance and support are available
  • I am worthy of a person changing their schedule for my convenience.

And so, in the Fall of 2015, I entered “the Box” and attended Lake Villa CrossFit twelve months after meeting Dave. Each invitation played a significant role in shaping my decision.

Lesson for the Church – The Invitations
I believe our church invitations are not to programs and events! Our invitations ask people to consider a new narrative:

  • They are capable.
  • They have something to share
  • There are benefits
  • They are accepted and encouraged.
  • They are worthy of a person changing their schedule to help.

And it is more likely they will embrace this ideology when WE believe God is at work in their life. With God’s help they will discover that hope, joy, love, forgiveness, and peace are real and within reach! They will discover Christian community, although imperfect, is the conduit through which hope, joy, love, forgiveness, and peace flow.

It took a year and multiple invites before I walked through the door and stood on “the yellow line” for the first time. I am grateful for every enthusiastic authentic invitation.

For a church to architect a welcoming culture, it needs people to welcome! They may wander through our doors after finding us on the web. They may only attend Christmas and Easter. But the church that values the reoccurring enthusiastic authentic invitation is the church where people are welcomed well. Remember, inviting someone to church is more than an invitation to enter “the Box” filled with programs. Our invitations create opportunities for people to meet Christ. God is nudging people towards our front door. With God’s help may we continue what God has begun and invite people into a new narrative, a narrative filled with hope, joy, peace, forgiveness, and love. A narrative where their potential is realized.

Next Lesson – Lesson 2 – The Vibe 

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