(Lesson 3) – The Environment – What Crossfit Taught a Pastor About Church


Lesson 2 – The Vibe

Taken at the CrossFit games, this picture demonstrates camaraderie in the 21k Row. This person is about to finish last and yet peers encourage her as if she is about to finish first. Did you notice the uniforms? I may be wrong, but nobody other than the rower is wearing black and yellow. Which leads me to believe, everyone cheering is her competition. They are the teams that finished, 1st, 2nd, etc. But they continue to cheer. Why, because CrossFit values challenging and encouraging one another even if the person is on a different team.

After years of weight loss failures, I took time to assess. Why was one program more successful than others? Why did Weight Watchers work? Why did I find health clubs so boring? Why is laundry hanging from the exercise bike in the basement? Why is CrossFit working so well? Why? Because CrossFit …

Values Both Challenging and Encouraging One Another

I am neither motivated nor challenged walking on a treadmill in a health club. Nobody tracks my progress. And nobody cares if I walk 10 miles or run 1 mile. But CrossFit challenges me. Casey, our instructor, challenges me to increase the weight I lift and decrease the time I take to complete a WOD (aka Work Out Of The Day). And when I have 10 burpees left to do, I can hear my peers chanting “You’ve got this!” I do my best when the community encourages and supports me!

Values Variety

A few weeks ago we bowled … using a rowing machine. The goal was to row 100 meters. Not more and not less. Every point above or below 100 was your score. If you row 104, your score for that “frame” is 4. The lowest score in ten frames wins. Seventeen weeks of workouts and we only bowled once. One day we workout in teams, and the next work towards our personal best. The lack of predictability from one day to the next keeps my interest.

Values Connections

Entering “the box” I sensed community; people enjoying one another’s company … or faking it well! People are connected to one another and on a first name basis. They ask, “How are your [fill in the blank] doing?” And over time, I became included and connected. I do my best when connected to community.

Learning for the church: For a church to help people “succeed” in developing a strong faith, maybe we need to embrace the CrossFit values.

Value Both Challenging and Encouraging One Another

Central to the teachings of Jesus is “God loves you!” And this can never be overstated. But to grow in our faith and witness, with God’s help, we must be challenged and encouraged. Challenged to be generous. Encouraged to die to our selfish desires. Challenged and encouraged to love others.  I love how Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, challenges and encouarges his church.

“The Jesus model (loving others) is centered on the you beside you. If you are a Democrat, it means it is centered on the you to the right of you. And if you are a Republican, you are to be centered on the you to the left of you. And if you are a racist, it is centered on the you you want nothing to do with.”

Growth happens when we are challenged and encouraged that have our best interest in mind.

Values Variety

I believe traditions are important in the church. Traditions keep us connected to the past. Traditions keep us grounded in the present. And my traditions are the most important (until I change my mind). Our Sunday morning religious traditions can disconnect us from the culture we hope to engage. Our attention deficit, social networked, information overloaded culture struggles to stay engaged with Sunday morning worship that has not changed formats since 1960. Even churches with a tradition of contemporary worship must ask the tough question, “How are our traditions holding us back from engaging the people Jesus calls us to love.” Our God is creative and our worship service should show that! Varying Sunday morning worship in both contemporary and traditional services helps keep people engaged.

Values Connections

Since the early church, being connected to other Christ-followers has been a foundational value.

Acts 2:42-47 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

It’s people, far more than programs, that matter to God. For a church to be the church God has in mind, the members need to have a genuine concern for one another that extends beyond Sunday morning services. God’s plan to grow people up into the people God has in mind places a high value on connections.

With God’s help, may the church continue becoming the church God has in mind.



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One Response to (Lesson 3) – The Environment – What Crossfit Taught a Pastor About Church

  1. Patricia Martin says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and insightful blog! It is interesting to see how your CrossFit experience can give you insight into your church experience better.

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