In February I begin thinking about spring training and baseball. I’m a big baseball fan and have been for a long time. A few months ago I was switching back and forth between a professional baseball and professional football game. Even though I love baseball, the game of football is much more engaging. Experts say baseball is becoming an old man’s game and is not attracting younger people or women. So I thought about why:
- Thinking game vs. Action game – while I’m thinking what the next pitch will be and what I would do with the base runners, most people just like to see action.
- Time of the game – even though there actually isn’t that much difference in most games, baseball has no time clock and can go on for a long time. Football has definite ending times.
- Tradition vs. Flash – for people to get interested in baseball, there needs to be substantive changes. But baseball is an historic game and the only change traditionalists want is no change (OK, maybe the designated hitter).
- Signs that are not understood. There are MANY unwritten rules and signals in baseball. I love them! Most people don’t get it and don’t like them.
- Marketing – football does a much better job of marketing, even though they’ve had more bad people and situations, football continues to grow in popularity.
Then it hit me. This is a lot like church. Why are many churches not growing?
- They are thinking games, not action games. Non-churched and de-churched people are intimidated because we’re not meeting them where THEY are at. Many of the new, successful churches have action in and out of the service.
- Time is a huge factor for young families. Many churches flip out over the changing worship times and aren’t open to accommodating families and others.
- Tradition speaks to some. Tradition does not speak to others.
- We have many signs, symbols, acronyms, and inside practices that must be overwhelming and daunting to new people.
- Marketing – like it or not, people are influenced by marketing and churches that are on that front edge are growing.
Baseball fans can only hope that football players will turn away from playing due to the concussions and violence issues. Otherwise baseball may slowly fade into the sunset. Like many of our churches.