Posted By Aaron Marcelli on March 5, 2010
A few weeks ago Katy and I (at her request) went to a NHL hockey game. I had not been to a hockey game since middle school and I’m not sure if she had ever been, but we thought it would be fun. And it was. I went all out and got us the ‘all you can eat seats’ and after about four hotdogs and three jumbo pretzels too many, began to regret that decision.
The game itself was exciting. There was a lot of action. The pace of hockey games is really fast with a lot of quick substitutions. The crowd was really into the game. And of course, there were several fights. As a matter of fact though, I was surprised at just how into the game the entire crowd seemed to be. In my mind, hockey is not a major American sport, but an impressive amount of people were in the arena, all glued to the ice, cheering and reacting to almost every move. I did get into the game and even jumped to my feet when the home team scored, but at times I still felt lost. A lot of whistles were blown for rules I did not understand. Players were penalized for slashing and dashing and flashing and all kinds of things I didn’t know about.
We tried to pick up on the rules from the discussion of some grade school kids behind us but I still could not help but feel like an outsider who had energetically intruded into the hockey nerd’s bubble.
Because I think about church all the time, I could not help but draw the comparison. I have to wonder how many people every week have feelings about church like I did at the hockey game. How many ‘outsiders’ give church another (or a first) try and end up feeling like they don’t get it or confused because they don’t understand or know the rules. I grew up in church but was still exposed to how a non-church person may view our services every time I brought a visitor. When we have a new person we care about accompany us to work, school or church for the first time, we over-analyze everything, trying to view it in their eyes. I did this, and it was not until I did that I realized how so many of the things that occur in most church services only appeal to or can be understood by “church people.”
When reading the Bible, I cannot help but see that the church is designed to reach people with the gospel message. Therefore, everything that we do should be to appeal to them. If church is boring, out of touch, or fake, those who visit will immediately be turned off and non-receptive when the message of Christ is presented.
All I know is going to that hockey game was fun. I enjoyed it. There was a lot of cheering and yelling and I was impressed with the player’s skills, but I still could not play the game by the rules, much less explain it to anyone else. Could the same be said about our churches?