Showing items filed under “Jeremy Shirley”
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Fall is in the air and football is in full force.  For some of us our favorite college team brings nothing but frustration and for others of us it’s a time of great joy.  The beauty of Saturday competition on the football field as young men leave it all on the field to bring the team and fan base the win is incredible.  For those of you that are avid football fans, games can keep you on the edge of your seat…..or out of your seat.   You’ll find yourself yelling, tweeting, and almost experiencing a heart attack.  That’s just the emotions of those of us that are cheering for the winning team. 

As a huge University of Kentucky fan, I love that Kentucky finally has a decent football team….although if I’m honest, they made Mizzou’s terrible team look like a pro team this past Saturday.  One of the things that frustrates me the most about this team is their “play not to lose” attitude.   If you’re not familiar with this strategy, it sounds like a good idea.  Nobody wants to lose, so why wouldn’t you “play not to lose”?  Here’s where you misunderstand the frustrating nature of this strategy and also where I want to connect it to how we live the Christian life.

In football, the “play not to lose” strategy looks like this…..we’ll get the lead in the first half of the game, then we’ll get conservative, run the ball, avoid turnovers and costly mistakes, and let our defense keep us ahead.  While I can appreciate confidence in a defense, the game goes 2 halves and the other team won’t stop trying to score just because you’re ahead.  For me personally this has resulted in 3 weekends in a row where Kentucky got an early lead and then I watched a second half that could nearly kill me as they “played not to lose”.  3 out of 3 of those games came down to a last second play that could have cost them the game.

So what does the “play not to lose” mentality have to do with our Christian life?  We have the early lead.  If we want to get technical, Jesus actually already won the game through His death, burial and resurrection.  Back to the game.  We have Christ in our lives, we’re attending worship, reading our Bible, we’re in a Sunday School group etc.  We’re running the plays in the game of life.  Some of them are even really good plays.  It’s the second half now, we just have to maintain the lead. 

What’s the point of the game of football?  They’re trying to score more points than the opposing team.  The offense is trying to put points on the board and the defense is trying to keep points off the board.  So in our Christian life, since we already have the lead….we start playing defense.  We don’t need to score points because Jesus has scored enough.  We stop working heard on offense to score points.  We’re just maintaining, taking up time, keeping the ball out of the other teams hands.  What’s that look like in the Christian’s life?  We stop focusing on the mission God has given us….to reach people for Christ and make disciples, who will make disciples.  We fall back on defense, we get comfortable with our church, our Sunday School group, our personal walk with Christ.  We keep running plays, we keep engaging in ministry, maybe we even lead a ministry, but it’s not wholly focused on scoring points; reaching people for Christ. 

As the game progresses, we fall in love with our lead…..I mean our church and our small group…. and we can get so comfortable with the lead that we have that we stop scoring points all together.  We stop sharing our faith, we stop praying for lost people, we stop challenging others to do those things.  Why?  Because we’re “playing not to lose”.  We got the lead, it feels good, let’s protect what we got and get to the end of the game.  It’s a scary thing to think our church or other churches could grow to the point where we felt comfortable enough to employ the strategy of “playing not to lose”.

As I’ve watched Kentucky in its last few games, I’ve experienced all of the stress and emotion that comes with watching a team “play not to lose”.  They ran plays on offense, but just running the ball over and over, not scoring points…creating a very frustrating experience for me.  I can’t help but wonder if God looks at us as individuals…as groups….as churches and experiences some of the same frustration watching us “play not to lose”?

God wants us to put points on the board; there is never a point where he wants us to start coasting.  We have more lost people around us young and old than ever here in America.  Let’s get out there and score some points.  Plot and Plan…..Pray…..with your family and with your Sunday School groups.  Then go out and score points.  Let’s play to win, every play…..every day, every conversation, every opportunity God gives us.

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
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Every once in a while I’m asked by someone in the church, “where are the young adults in our church?”  My initial thought is this is a person who genuinely cares but has a blind spot to this area of ministry in the church.  It’s no different than our lack of awareness about any ministry in the church that we’re not connected to at the time.  Think about it for a minute, you connect with the people that you’re in ministry with and without some intentional effort you can have a blind spot to other ministries you don’t participate in, it’s almost as though they don’t exist sometimes. 

Our College & Career ministry is one of those ministries that easily can be a blind spot for many members.  They’re a very transient group as they transition through various life stages…new jobs, new relationships, new colleges, and moving away.  That doesn’t even consider the fact that many of them are experiencing adulthood for the first time and trying to figure out if they want to do things the same way they’ve had to do them under their parent's authority up to this point.  It creates a unique challenge, to say the least in a town where the closest major college campus of any size is at least 20 minutes away.

All that being said, it’s been exciting to see as God has grown the ministry to young adults.  From the earliest stages of it, it was evident that God had a plan and despite who we may have thought was necessary for that plan, He provided who He knew we needed.  I’m very excited to see God work among our young adults and those in the community and since this is a blind spot for many in the church, want to give you a glimpse into what God is doing. 

While most of you are at home on Wednesday evenings, our College & Career (CnC) group meets each week.  At 8 p.m. they meet in my home (1243 Highland Circle Dr. Wentzville MO 63385) where we share a meal together, study the Bible together, pray together, and enjoy time hanging out.  They’re doing their “Sunday School” just like the rest of you do Explore the Bible, just a different time and place.  One of the things that is exciting about this is you never know who might come through the door on any given night.  We’ve had the opportunity to host people of all different backgrounds, from atheist to believers just looking for a place to connect with other young adults.  Over the last year, we’ve had about 25 different guests come through our doors as we try to reach young adults.

While that is exciting, what is just getting started excites me even more.  Just like other groups in our Sunday School ministry, we’ve been working through how to be more intentional in reaching people for Christ knowing that we need to do better to fulfill our purpose as a ministry.  We spent multiple weeks during our gathering to discuss how to reach people better than ever before.  At some point it became time to talk about who was actually going to do something about the ideas…not just talk about stuff. 

One of the first things that came out of our discussions was that we needed to spend time weekly praying for lost people.  Since then we’ve been breaking up into small groups of 2-3 to pray for lost people by name and for our prayer partners obedience when God presents opportunities.   I’ve got 3 young adults in mind right now that I’m praying for that work at a local Starbucks with one of our young men.  It changes things when we begin to think about and pray for lost people. 

Another thing that came out of our discussions was that we needed to have events outside our typical gathering time where we sought to bring people together that wouldn’t otherwise step foot into one of our worship services or our small group Bible Study.  Our goal is to bring people together and then to give them the opportunity to respond to the gospel.  Our first attempt at this will be May 27 as one of the young women is putting together a scavenger hunt where everyone is being encouraged to build their own team with the intent of having a time afterward where they can share testimonies of how Christ has changed their lives and how He can change theirs as well.

They’re not pretending like they’ve arrived, nor reached the point where we can be satisfied with the ministry but they are starting to embrace the reality of the fact that God has blessed us with such a ministry and in doing so has given us the responsibility to reach more young adults.  This is only a couple steps they’re taking to be more intentional.  To that end, I think if they continue on this path, that within the year, we’ll have another group of young adults meeting on a weekly basis….and who knows what God has in store from there.

One of the best things you can do is pray for these young adults.  Pray for them as they take steps to reach people for Christ.  Pray for their obedience and the hearts of those that they’re trying to reach.  Pray for those that graduate and have to go through a significant life change that results in having to find new friends and places to connect.  Pray for more young adults who are serious about the mission of God to rise up, to be a part of a core group that would start another Bible study group, maybe even on Sunday morning.

Our church is blessed to have young adults, seriously we are….some churches, like us a few years ago aren’t fortunate enough to have a group of young adults doing ministry together.  Encourage young adults when you see them…many are serving on Sunday mornings.  While you’re praying for them, ask God how He might lead you to do what they’re doing….trying to be intentional as a group in reaching people.  Your Sunday school group could probably take the task of reaching people more seriously as well, just like the College & Career ministry has begun to do!

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