Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Church Draft

Today is Day 1 of the NFL Draft. (Remember when the whole thing took place on one day?) These days it's a three day extravaganza! published a good story here about the development and emotions of "the green room". The hype is not just about the actual draft. The NFL Combine is held in late February and is a 4 day event of testing and examining potential draftees.The NFL Network now broadcasts this event live. The NFL Draft, is not an event, it's a season.

Naturally, the AFL has caught onto this trend and in 2009 moved their draft from Saturday morning to
Thursday evening. The big difference is that most of the potential draftees in the US system are familiar to the public because they played for college football teams that receive enormous coverage. College football is one of the major sporting obsessions in the US. In contrast, young Aussie Rules players represent their high schools or teams that no one pays any attention to. So in the AFL draft you completely rely upon the "experts" telling you how good a player is because you've never had the chance to see him play.

Anyway, all this Draft coverage got me thinking about how I could relate it to the church.  There were several ways I could have gone:
  1. Jesus may have been thinking of the Draft when he chose his apostles: His top 12. John the beloved was his #1 pick. Peter and James rounded out the Top 3.
  2. Would it be fun to draft the top preachers for your church? What do you look for in a preacher? What gifts do they bring to the team? How do they fit the culture of the team?
  3. What if you were starting a new church, what people would you want to draft and in what order? Song leader at #2 or behind Enthusiastic Cold Conversationalist?
In the end I decided just to make the simple point:

the whole concept of a draft is contrary to God's design of the church. 

The foundational assumption of the draft is that some players are more valuable than others. In the sports and business world this is undoubtedly true. Some players make a big impact for a team, others barely raise a murmur. Some receive huge sponsorships, while others are lucky to get a pair of free shoes.

In the NFL the last player drafted receives the unflattering title of "Mr Irrelevant". Although there have been exceptions, most Mr Irrelevants never make the field and many never end up even making the team.

In 1 Corinthians 12:23 God tells the church that "God has put the body [church] together, giving greater honor to the parts [people] that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body." Although some people in the church have less public talents and abilities than others, God tells us that each person is equally valuable.

NFL draftees squirm in the public spotlight of the green room, waiting for their name to be called and wondering who, if anyone, will value them and select them. The message of the church is that God values each and every person. All are welcome. Everyone belongs.

Enjoy the draft. Celebrate the stories of guys overcoming all sorts of adversity to make it among the elite of their sport. Wipe away a tear as you see a mother rejoice with her son. Wince for those in the glare of the TV cameras not selected as early as expected. Enjoy it all.

Then remember that in God's draft there's only a #1 selection, and His choice is you.

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