A Sports Analogy

A few Cups ago I wrote about my comparisons of the Church at times to an army in dress uniform on the parade ground and at times, more importantly, to an army at war. There is another analogy that I have found useful – to sports.

In my early life in the church I thought of the church in this way: the clergy and religious (monks and nuns) were the team on the field and the members were the spectators in the stands. I knew of lay activists, such as Dorothy Day, but I would have lumped them in the same team-on-the-field category.

With the years has come a different view. Now I think of the members of the church as the team on the field, who in living out their baptismal vows in their places of work and leisure and family life, contend daily with the evil forces that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God. The clergy are the coaches, trainers, and sports medicine practitioners, encouraging us and teaching us how to play the game. The spectators in the stands are the world outside. And make no mistake – the world is always watching how well we are doing.

Part of “The General Thanksgiving,” in Morning and Evening Prayer comes to mind. “Almighty God,…we pray…that…we may show forth your praise not only with our lips but in our lives…”

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 17-December-2013.

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4 Responses to A Sports Analogy

  1. Dennis Jones says:

    Ron, there may be more to your analogy than you intended. The clergy/coaches etc. can sometimes ‘feed’ the team ‘enhanced drugs’ that boost performance but tend to damage the bodies. You see this in some diocese where money has come into play in ways that have distorted how the team plays and the role of the coaches, with them perhaps forgetting what took them and their team to earlier glory days. (Check The Bahamas or some evangelic churches, for examples).

    Some of the teams have also been playing in front of no spectators or very few, so those watching have hardly been able to do much to spread whatever good news or insights they’ve received. Many of the spectators are old and remember better days when the teams were winning a lot, but now find that little new blood is coming into the team and the ‘draft’ and ‘farm system’ have failed miserably. How can they look to new areas and groups to find talent to boost the team? Do the coaches need to look anew at their recruitment efforts? Does the team need to change its playing style? Do the spectators want to see different styles of play?

  2. yalilla says:

    perfect analogy for me —- I come to services to receive inspiration from souls and hearts more advanced spiritually than mine, the go out to my world and try to remember as I work and volunteer and meet………

  3. Christian says:

    I went to a service in a small town in Kansas. Not much of a coaching staff out there;. the priest handles multiple churches on a Sunday. The “team” of the faithful is also very small. The number of folks in the stands is substantial, on a relative basis. A bunch of the townsfolk enjoy seeing who is going to church and who is not.

  4. Cay Hartley says:

    Hi Ron. I had occasion to quote your Cup at a meeting at another church recently. It perfectly matched what they were articulating concerning what sort of rector they wanted to call, and how they saw themselves and any new leader. Thank you.

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