Opening Day

Pink Backpacks for Everyone!
Baseball as some strange traditions.

A few years ago an article at spoke to this strange tradition saying,

the reliever with the least amount of service time is assigned to tote it to the bullpen.

It’s loaded with gum, candy, sunflower seeds — whatever the pitchers need to get them through a game. Asked if he would be carrying it on Friday, which was when he could make his debut in the ‘pen for the first time since 2002, Zambrano laughed and said, “No.” 

“No chance,” Marmol said, smiling. Russell has the backpack now.

“I’m pretty sure I’m keeping it,” Russell said.

You have to get to the ball park early to see the parade of pink backpacks that nearly every team has for the ‘rookie’ to carry to the bullpen. It is fun to watch as the season progresses and someone new gets to carry the pack.

What joy there is for the one who no longer has to carry it!

There is even joy for the one who is carrying it at the start for it symbolizes having made it.

This long standing tradition in baseball got me to thinking . . . What if as Christian Men we were asked to carry pink backpacks as glaring symbols of our inexperience?

How quickly do you think would we ‘recruit’ someone to become part of the team so they could carry the Pink Backpack?

Perhaps we should issue PINK BACKPACKS to all the men of the church to carry around until they pass it on to the next rookie (disciple).

When is the last time you passed the backpack of faith and service to someone else?


Does Size really matter?

Even pastors fall prey to this age old lie. I recently read an article by Dave Ferguson entitled ‘Winning at any size’ in Outreach Magazine.  I have to be honest I would have blown right past the article except the opening line of the article was: “being a baseball fan all my life” – He had me hooked so I read the article.

Ferguson went on to discuss a study by Economics professor Michael C. Davis regarding the correlation between winning baseball teams and attendance.  I know, exciting stuff.  Davis’ study concluded that high attendance will not produce a winning ball team, but rather a winning team will produce high attendance.  Tell that to the Twins and Reds!

WOW! I hope we didn’t use a lot of Government funding to discover that little gem!

And yet the concept was not lost on Ferguson or me … As churches we have to stop trying to grow our attendance … We need to focus on changing lives because a winning church is changing lives … and changed lives will produce better attendance.

It seems for all that was done to attempt to attract people and draw them into the church – the one thing that was never accounted for was all the transformed lives within the congregation.  It was (in the final analysis) these changed lives that drew others in.

Methodists declare the mission ‘creating disciples to transform the world.’  And while I get that – we have chosen to focus our intention on living our faith in ways that matter as our missional context.

Over the past decade, I have heard countless stories of  transformed lives as a result of the challenge to live your faith.  And the honest challenge to live one’s faith is resulting in people living their faith – and that is growing the church and transforming people, families, and communities.

Lesson Learned: If you want to grow a church, focus on people.

Changing lives one at a time will do more to grow your church than any effort to market or advertise.  In other words, if you build a winning team – the people will come to see what is happening.

Have you helped anyone live their faith lately?


3 Simple Rules the World Needs

I am appreciative of social media as an outlet, but I am also concerned by the disregard by which it can be used. I am grateful that our Indiana UMC Conference leadership has chosen to develop a policy for the use of social media based on the teaching of John Wesley and his 3 rules for holy living.

One of the benefits of social media is that it provides the opportunity to share views, thoughts, joys and concerns about all areas of life. Our social media contributions can be very effective tools for ministry if we are careful to apply caution before we post. We will be careful that our posts are not “doing harm” by insulting or damaging the reputation of others. We will make sure our posts are respectful and in good taste. And we remember: Everything we post – status updates, comments, tweets, blogs – becomes public immediately after we click ”send” (even if we’re using a limited access setting). We can’t take it back once it’s out there, so we will use discernment with everything we post.

Rule #1 Do no Harm

TO THINK ABOUT: Is the post “doing harm” to the reputation of the church, Christ or another person or organization? Can the post be interpreted as harmful, offensive, rude or distasteful? If using the post as an outlet to vent, is there a more productive, less public way to do so?

Social media is one of the most effective methods of church networking and communicating today. When used properly, it can have a significant encouraging influence on our readers and become a powerful tool for delivering the Gospel message to a large audience that extends beyond our contact list. It is a great tool for networking and providing the world with news about our church and ministry. It also is a very useful tool for obtaining feedback and ideas from our audience and can be used to gain insight for sermons, Bible study topics, worship times, needs of the community, etc. The “good” and positive uses of social media are endless.

Rule #2 Do Good

TO THINK ABOUT: Can the post be described as “good”? Will it help the Kingdom and fellow believers? How will it be perceived by non-believers? How will the post be received by people with different cultural or faith backgrounds? Are we communicating effectively by asking questions in addition to providing information?

Rule #3 Stay in Love with God

Social media is a great way to find meaningful devotional materials, thought provoking blogs, inspiring worship videos and media resources, and current articles and tools for our ministry. Users have reported that their social media usage helps keep them informed and enthusiastic about their ministry on a daily basis. While it can definitely help us “stay in love with God,” it also can be very distracting. We will make sure our use of social media does not occupy so much of our time that we are no longer participating in meaningful Bible study, devotional times, worship and conversations with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Social media can serve as a tool to aid, promote and conduct discussions, studies and devotional times, but should not be our primary source of interaction with the world.

TO THINK ABOUT: How is/can social media helping me to stay in love with God? How is it hindering me? How am I helping others stay in love with God by my social media contributions?

You can access the full document here.