In November 2015, I stood on a yellow line side by side with other people dressed and ready to workout. This was my first time at CrossFit in Lake Villa. I wonder if my posture showed how unsettling this was for me. “Can I do this? I can’t do this! Why am I even here? I have to be the oldest least fit person in this place!” Weight loss has been a struggle for my entire life. I’ve tried everything from Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers. Each resulted in varying degrees of success. I’m 53 years old. My options for getting healthier were running out and doing nothing was not a choice. Showing up that day I hoped to find a workout experience with the potential to improve my health trajectory. And then the instructor said, “Line up! Shut up! Twenty jumping jacks!” The journey began.
That was over three months ago. I continue dragging my butt out of bed and out the door at 6:51 am. So what makes my CrossFit experience blog content worthy? I am grateful for the support and encouragement I receive daily. I am grateful for the change in my health. And I am grateful for the unexpected and profound church insights I gained attending CrossFit. I went there to shed pounds and gain muscle mass. But God used this experience to shed light on the experience of attending church for the first time. Week after week I’ve gained insights on how difficult is it for a person to get connected at church. I learned it will take more than good music, programs, coffee, and preaching to get someone back week after week. God used my CrossFit experience to give me new eyes and a deeper sense of empathy and respect for the people who visit our churches. The people who show up scared, intimidated, doubting themselves, desperate for hope, and wondering if they should even be there.
CrossFit is giving me a masters level education on leading a church that welcome visitors well. A church with a culture (not mere programs) that makes sure everyone is seen, celebrated, valued, accepted, and included. Over the next few months I will share what God teaching me about welcoming others into the church. May these posts challenge and bless you. So let’s begin! In the next few days I will be releasing the second post “The Invitations – What CrossFit Taught a Pastor About Church.”