I enjoy football. If there is a game on t.v. regardless of the teams, I’ll watch it. Of course there are teams that I follow and identify with, but I enjoy the game of football. Over the years I have learned to appreciate the game as a whole. It wasn’t always that way. I used to watch my favorite teams and view their opponents as the enemy. I grew up in Louisiana and my allegiance was to LSU, the Saints and the Cowboys. My entire view of the game of football was viewed through that lens. I was a “homer”, [someone who views the whole sport through the lens of their own preferred team], and as a result I defended my teams with a passion even if they were struggling. If another team in the conference was better than mine, I would root for them to fail and look for things to excuse my teams shortcomings. I was competitive and attached elements of my own value to how my teams were doing. Two things resulted from this view. I was unable to be objective regarding my own team and unfairly critical of other teams. In other words I lost the ability to see the big picture and as a result I forfeited the ability to enjoy the sport as a whole.
You may be thinking, why are you telling us this. Fans are fans, right? That may be true, but the reason I am writing about this is that I see the same tendency in the Church today. Christians have become fans and Churches are the teams. Some are fans of the Mega Church or the smaller Church or the seeker Church or the revival Church etc. This leads to antagonism between the fans. We’ve lost the ability to see the value that each expression brings. I hear leaders of Large Churches criticize leaders of smaller Churches and I hear leaders of smaller Churches criticize the big ones. Each seems to think that they have the right model and that the others just don’t get it.
I reject this view. I embrace the truth that as a leader it is my responsibility to hear God’s voice and follow His leading as I cooperate with Him in leading the local Church that I am in. I am not competing with bigger or smaller Churches. I am obeying Him and caring for those I lead. Paul said that if we measure ourselves by ourselves that we are unwise(2 Corinthians 10:12). He also knew of those that preached the Gospel in ways that bothered him, but concluded that it wasn’t about him and embraced the value that the Gospel was being preached(Philippians 1:15-18). We all know of failures by leaders of large Churches, but trust me, there are failures by leaders in small congregations as well. Even Moses was criticized for thinking too highly of himself by some, but the reality was that they thought too little of their place. Those that are called to lead any congregation have an awesome responsibility and one that every leader will answer for, regardless of size or popularity. We all answer to the One that said He would build His Church.
Apparently, this is not a modern issue. Paul had to deal with this tendency to create fan bases in the Church, “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?“(1 Corinthians 1:11-13 ).
We must guard against becoming “homers” for our preference of Church. Otherwise we will not be able to see the big picture of how God is moving in the earth. Let’s be who we are called to be and do what we are asked to do and trust that God knows what He is doing. Let’s learn to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those that mourn. If a Church is growing near us, Let’s rejoice. If a church is struggling or suffering, let’s pray for them. I Love the Church! It’s many expressions in local congregations across the earth are exciting to me. They reveal the many ways that God is moving to reach people of all cultures and even the diverse demographics of a given city or area. I don’t want to be a “homer”.