Part Three: Real Application to Providing Optimal Opportunity:
The success of a gym and a church are certainly not always related, but I believe I have seen some overlap. When I first heard of CrossFit I belittled it. Somehow the passion of those involved intimidated me so that my only response was to refer to the group as a cult, a bunch of fanatics. Yet, their excitement comes from living out a vision that I see as reflecting a biblical model of community.
Oh, how I wish the world would look at the church and say of her passion, “Those of the church are just a bunch of fanatics,” and not just based on our ideas and words, but our actions. As I pointed out in the last post, I began to wonder, what makes these people (CrossFit members) so fanatical. Why do they all eat the same things, wear the same shoes, and adhere to such specific workouts? Because they see real results from the community they have formed. I have mused on this topic for the last two posts. Now it is time to get practical:
Here are 5 specifics I have seen make CrossFit such a successful community, 5 specifics that I also see reflected in biblical thought:
Vision: Before you can provide opportunity for cultural transformation, you have to have a goal in mind. Anybody who knows anything about CrossFit knows that it has a vision to create elite athletes, and they are unapologetic about the way in which they see this coming to be. If you are not up for the task, they wish you well, but they are not going to change.
Christ certainly had vision, and a message to teach through word and deed. His words were inviting, but challenging as well. The church needs to stand firm in its vision of who we are called to be. This is not a vision we must lay out ourselves; it is a vision given us in Scripture, to be a community called to mission. We too should be unapologetic in our approach and assured in the results it produces.
Opportunity: In the last post, I spoke to how CrossFit provides real opportunity and how opportunity is the real missing link between desire and action. There is a huge disconnect in the church between knowing what we should do and doing it. This is the same for so many who know they should better take care of the self through exercise and diet and want to be healthier, but do not do what it takes. CrossFit has met this issue head on by providing the crucial link between want and action, which is cultural opportunity to live out a well, thought out vision. Christ invited His disciples to live out of vision on a daily basis. Like working out, living out the Christian faith takes discipline. That is why we are called disciples.
Catechesis: This word is definitely one of those that if uttered at CrossFit would get a lot of confused looks, but they do catechesis, nonetheless. Catechesis is definitely a church term, but it is something that today’s American church knows little to nothing about in practice. Simply put, the practice of Catechesis was the early church’s means to ensure converts were ready to be a part of the community. Today people join the church with little to no education on what it means to live as a Christian or how to be a Christian. We know little of discipleship. We expect all converts to simply have the tools at hand, as if discipleship is nothing.
At CrossFit Brunswick (the box/gym I attend), all new members are asked to join the On-Ramp class. This course gives all new members the basic tools to properly workout at CrossFit with the rest of the members. This provides a level of confidence to the new member. Christ spent three years training His disciples before sending them out on their own. The early church used to provide this sort of preparation, but now we leave new members to figure it out on their own (unless we offer a “basics” class that is so basic it really is no training at all). This leads to a lack of confidence and to a lack of proper protection. The new member is not protected against false teaching or misunderstanding. This leads to injury, spiritually speaking, and the new member either does not participate or leaves the church altogether.
Community: This is not a word unfamiliar to CrossFit, and while we pay lip service to the idea of community, the church really does not do church in community. We only get together on Sundays, not everyday in mission. Unlike other gyms, where you might have a class here and there, CrossFit is always done in community, always done together.
Once again, Christ surrounded Himself with community and called us to do life together. Discipline is difficult, but it is made much easier in community. One does not feel so alone when others are walking, even struggling, together. One is not so concerned with not knowing what to do in a given situation in community, because he or she has others there to help think the situation through, and to help make any corrections needed. Moreover, in community, one is constantly reminded not to lose focus of the goal. So often a task can become more about the steps than about the purpose, but in a group, people constantly spur each other on with the true goal in mind.
Evangelism: Here is another word that CrossFit does not use, but lives out, and it benefits their cause greatly. In addition to providing support, groups build enthusiasm. And even more than groups, results produce enthusiasm. Enthusiasm leads to evangelism. I once heard a fellow CrossFitter, and one of my trainers, Russ Hutto, refer to his earliest reaction to his CrossFit results as being evangelistic. In other words, after seeing such great success in his own life, he wanted to share it with others, and so it should be with the church.
We often think of evangelism as just another task we must do as disciples, and we often view this as a burden. Many times we do not want to share our faith. But, if we could catch fire and really see the marked improvements that being the church has on our own life, we would naturally become more evangelical. Evangelism is not a task, but an opportunity. When evangelism happens, community grows and the process continues. Unlike how evangelism has happened in the past, it can be very organic, a natural flow from properly executed community life.
So, when I say I know a group of people that come together in real community to spur one another on to a richer life through discipline and encouragement and often encourage those not involved in their way of life to join in so that they too can enjoy the benefits of living out of the communal vision, I hope that I am not just speaking well about my CrossFit box (gym for the layman), but about the body of faith known as the church as well. Through casting a proper vision, people can come to see who they ought to be and will hopefully gain the desire. To make the vision a reality, opportunity can provide people an outlet to achieve their goals in a disciplined manner. This discipline is aided in community where people spur one another on to greater and greater success. Once people see success in their selves, they will have the confidence to share their story with others. At our foundation, this is how the church has operated fro our earliest days, and we need only to reclaim this way of life to see further success.
So, get involved.
Catch the vision. Connect with the community. Be disciplined. Live out of purpose. Never do so alone, and join your local CrossFit box while you are at it.