Friday, February 28, 2014

Going for Gold: Missions Committee Olympians

image courtesy of Google
“And they’re coming around the last turn! Red is in front but Green is making a rush for the inside! The pace is agonizingly fast, but they keep pushing! Only one jump left and Yellow makes a bold move! BLUE IS DESPERATELY TRYING TO HOLD ON! BUT YELLOW IS CLOSING IN! WAIT, IT’S GREEN...NO IT’S YELLOW!!! GREEN SHOOTS OUT IN FRONT!! IT’S GOLD FOR GREEN!!!!!”

Watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi
is always fun. But sometimes, listening to the commentators get so excited you think they might have a heart attack is nearly as entertaining. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard a few meaningless phrases that repeat over and over and over, whether it’s speed skating, ice hockey, snowboard cross, or even ice dancing...and it’s made me wonder, what if we applied these clich├ęs to other things?

Like, missions committees?

image courtesy of Google
“In order to win at this level, you have to really want it, George, and she does!” (But, you better not want it too much)
Thanks for asking me come to your church and share in your Sunday school/youth group/service/bell choir practice, I appreciate it, and while I can tell you really want five Sundays—30+ other churches probably really want one too.

“He’s really fighting for it!”
Sometimes it’s amazing what a church fights to put into their worship service. It’s like trying to put ski competitors for the Super G, the Giant Slalom, the Half Pipe, and the Ski Cross all on the slopes at the same time! (All those venues also compete for time...while a good luge racer will travel thousands of miles for a 51 sec run, your missionary will appreciate a few more minutes to summarize the last few years.)

“And there it is, Frank; he has such a signature style!”
You have a special emphasis for your ministry/event/class? Great! Let your missionary know where he or she should focus! (Just try not to dictate to the missionary too closely...otherwise both your signatures will soon become an unreadable smudge.)

“He shoots—He scores!”
In order for that shot to actually score, you have to know what you’re aiming at. Help me out and assume I remember nothing about your church (including local road closures, your recent pastoral change, your new missions policies, where the Sunday School room is in the new building...and maybe even what you look like).

Olympic athletes start preparing years ahead of time for major competition. While maybe not years, your missionaries still need time to prepare for sharing with your church. Be kind and give enough warning of changes or additions in your program (Saturday night doesn’t count) so they can nail it too.

 “It’s all about owning the ice.”
We’re going to pretend “owning the ice” is like “owning a communication device” (Got a computer? Phone? Messenger pigeon?) . Olympic athletes and coaches continuously touch base—let’s do that too!

“What a moment! The world will remember that forever!”
Let’s remember forever accurately. Let me know how you are going to introduce me or what things are being published about me, and we can avoid any strange surprises, such as when I once found out I was working in a neighbouring country and not Papua New Guinea :) (this is especially important for creative-access workers).

image courtesy of Google
The gold medal journey requires pushing through great obstacles, recruiting an army of workers (“I’d like to thank my parents and my school and my community and my dog...”), creative ideas for funding (like starring in yogurt commercials), and remaining true to yourself despite enormous odds (and very sparkly costumes). But we can do it, because it's worth it. The torch has been lit. The gauntlet has been thrown.

And it’s time to start training for next time.