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If Only We Refused to Play Games…

Note: Hopefully this post doesn’t apply to you. It’s a bit of satire with a serious message… 

Let’s play a game… should be a lot of fun. Anybody can play. It’s sort of like “Family Feud”—let’s call it “Ministry Feud”—or “Pastor Politics!”

Round One: The First-Blood Round

Either one of us can go first. The goal is to draw first blood.

If you go first—you seek to find something wrong with me and my church. It shouldn’t take long, especially if all personal standards and preferences are in play and humans are involved.

Then, on my turn, I’ll find something wrong with you and your church.

(Note: It helps if we visit so we have first-hand knowledge, but this is just a game, so truth doesn’t really matter…)

Then you go again, and I’ll go again. It’s easy because there’s a negative slant to everything. You just have to have a cynical eye. Whether a church is growing or shrinking, there’s a problem. Too loose or too strict, there’s a problem. Too dynamic or too dead, there’s a problem. (There’s no end to the possibilities once you get the hang of it…)

We will keep doing this until we’ve managed to completely discredit and dismiss each other in our own minds. (The Bible word for it is “despise.”)

Nobody wins.

We both lose this round and so do lost souls in our respective cities.

Round Two: The Quorum Round

You find some friends and begin to tell them what’s wrong with me and my church. (All the stuff you figured out in round one.) (It’s better if you meet, like at a conference or something…)

Then, in turn I find friends and tell them all the stuff I found wrong with you and your church. (Again, the stuff I figured out in round one.)

We do this again, and again. Round two continues until…

Your friends despise me. My friends despise you. (The goal is disunity and discord.)

Whoever generates the most “despising” builds the largest quorum.

Whoever can trash the other guy with the most people wins this round.

But the game continues…

Round Three: The College and Comparison Round

In this round we examine and compare churches and each other—not for edifying but with envying. The goal is to discredit the other and thus come out on top.

(Note: We cannot play against each other in this round unless we went to different colleges.)

(Note: This round can also be played in teams as long as everyone on your team went to the same college.)

We compare backgrounds, church attendances, standards, ministry styles, musical preferences, and institutional loyalties.

Next we name-drop to try to prove who knows more “important” people.

Then we compare travel schedules, outside opportunities, and speaking engagements.

The winners of this round officially win the title, “Movers and Shakers” (taken from the original greek in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.) (Boy, do I hate that term.)

Round Four: The Never-Ending, Bark Louder Round

The goal of this round is to inflict the most damage to the other.

Anybody can go first, but usually the one who lost round three goes first.

This round is about barking loudest and getting noticed—finding personal significance. There are several “life-lines” you can use. Today, most players choose the “social networking” life-line first.

Begin to vent through social networking. Use names if you want. No holds barred. (And truth doesn’t matter in this round either…)

Here are our options: Critical blogs. Venomous newspapers. Christian forums. Thinly veiled gossipy preaching. Open letters. Childish Facebook rants or Twitter binges. 140 character arguments are the most ridiculous—which makes them exceptionally effective for this.

The game-play is to vent disdain and flaunt arrogance toward each other.

The goal here is to draw random, unaffiliated strangers into the game—weighing in pointless opinions, spouting pathological rants, and generally abusing communication skills to the im-perfecting of the saints. As scripture teaches—“that which is carnal to the use of vilifying…”

The less fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in this round, the better. Just flesh in all it’s despicable nastiness.

The secondary goal here is to make Christianity (in general) look absolutely, stupidly ridiculous and childish to lost minds. (This is usually highly successful.)

Round three is the never-ending round, until the end of time. You just keep playing until the other guy quits or fails.

If you quit or fail first, you justify all of my former gamesmanship and prove me right.

If I quit or fail first, I justify all of your former gamesmanship and prove you right.

Whoever is right can gloat by posting “See, I told you so…” on all formerly used media.

Whoever is right gets to glory in his rightness with his friends who were also right. (Eg. Have a pizza party.)

Whoever is right gets to move on and play against others who are willing to play the game.

Still, nobody wins.

Final Round: The Reckoning Round

We both get old and grumpy playing our game.

The younger leaders coming up behind us laugh at our game (and our faith.)

We despise them and call them compromisers for not playing our game. (For that brief moment we almost work together to keep our game alive. But that would also wreck the game.)

Eventually we die. (Could take a while, so game-play continues until all players are dead.)

We stand before Jesus. He reckons our stewardship of life, ministry, and relationships.

Our various game and tactics are piled into a heap.

Fire completely consumes our game.

We are ashamed over our game.

We lose.

Game over.

This game is stupid.

Here’s a better idea.

Since we all struggle. Since we’re on the same team. Since we need every laborer. Since we all need encouragement. Since we are brothers. Since we are commanded to love one another and be in unity. Since we are fighting a much bigger war…

Let’s not be gamers. Let’s be grace-givers.

What might happen if we don’t play the game, and we get out into the harvest fields instead?

 

Post Script—This post was not written with any one I know “in mind.” Actually, my personal experience is that most pastors and leaders have long ago left the game, or never played it to begin with. I’m sure there’s a few stragglers, but generally there’s a wonderful spirit of grace and camaraderie amongst the servant-leaders (both young and old) that I personally know and love. I pray we keep our eyes on Jesus and our hearts engaged together in the harvest!

 

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5 Comments

  • Popping some popcorn for Round Five :)

  • Brilliantly written and so true. Thanks for being real my “younger generation”!

  • This is so painful to read. There is no better blessing than to have a pastor motivated by God’s Word and not by the rules of this game.

  • YES!!! AMEN and YES!!!

    GAME OVER!!!

  • Video games are such a waste of time, and so is this game of judging. We are thankful for your spiritual reality posts on this blog. My family is planning to visit your church on vacation this summer because we want to see how the Lord is blessing! Looking forward to some spiritual rejuvenation. Can’t wait to hear you preach in person, so glad you moved to the East Coast.


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