A few nights ago I went to the Y to play basketball. The usual suspects were there, mostly “streetballers”, guys trying to relive the glory days, and some guys trying to get in cardio to lose weight without the use of a treadmill. (I won’t tell you which group I belong in) Since the local high school teams have finished their seasons there were also several of those players and it was obvious who the HS players were and who the “streetballers” were.
From the first game there was a glaring discrepancy between the two different systems that existed on the court. One system existed on the team of high school players. They had a structure that hasn’t existed in my previous visits to the Y. Each player upon receiving a pass, faked a pass into the paint, made a pass, and cut through to the other side of the floor. They called out when a player was about to set a screen on their teammate. They took good, calculated shots. They were polished. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
They got absolutely KILLED in most games, losing everytime.
The other team didn’t call out screens. They usually laughed if there teammate got picked or fell down. They turned the ball over a few too many times. They attempted passes that were risky at best. They tried to recreate scenes from AND1 videos. They missed on a lot of these attempts, but ultimately made more shots than the other team.
This same thing played out again and again throughout the night.
I work at a very polished church. While we don’t do everything perfectly, we do a lot of things well and with excellence. Because I’m demented, as I watched the 2 differing styles I thought about some raw churches I know. They “make some mistakes” (in some people’s opinions). They aren’t polished in many areas, but they are just flat out getting the job done. That isn’t to say that all “raw” churches get it right, and churches with structure, excellent systems, etc aren’t getting it done. This is about me.
My prayer is that I don’t become so polished that I lose the raw. The raw for me was really falling in love with Jesus, which didn’t really happen until college for me, though I was raised in the church. The raw for me was my first few years in student ministry when I made a lot of mistakes I’m sure, but I just loved kids, spent time with them, and constantly looked for ways to get better at my job. The raw for me was in the first few months of our portable church experience when we were committed to “whatever it takes” to get the job done.
My church is great, and I believe I’m still doing effective ministry. I just hope I never get satisfied executing within the system, but find myself on the losing end when it’s all said and done.