Green Bay Packers: "Us"
Last week my son and I had a real treat. A friend of mine, Troy Murphy, is both senior pastor at Green Bay Community Church and the chaplain for the Green Bay Packers. When Troy heard about my love for football (go Chargers!), he invited me to come and speak about Sticky Faith at his church in a seminar and Sunday sermons, and then to also get a tour of Lambeau Field and tickets to the Sunday home opener against the Buffalo Bills.
So my son and I, as well as a friend and her son who are big time Packer fans, had a fantastic weekend in Green Bay last week. Ive never been to a sporting event like one at Lambeau Field. I was sitting so close to the players it felt like a college football game. And the crowd was so family oriented and friendly that it felt like a baseball game, not a football game (if youve been to both, you know what I mean).
But what I was most struck by was the enormous LOYALTY that Packer fans feel toward their team. No matter the record, no matter the weather (they come out and sit in the snow for games regularly), they love their Packers. The Packers sell more merchandise than any other NFL team. Only 70 people per year drop their season tickets (generally season tickets are handed down from generation to generation). The Packers are the only publicly owned NFL team, meaning that over 100,000 fans have bought a share in the Packers when the team has needed to raise money. Many of those shareholders were walking around the stadium, proudly wearing their shareholder shirts and pins.
I couldnt help but wonder: why are these shareholders so proud of their team when church members dont generally feel the same shareholder pride for their church? Its not about the teams record. The Packers, while the most winning NFL team ever (12 championships), have had their lean years too. Its something more.
My time was too short in Green Bay to really dig deep and conclusively identify what it was that inspired more loyalty than almost any church I have ever been a part of or visited. But heres one thing I noticed: the Packers had communicated to the city of Green Bay that the city was part of the team and the team was part of the city. There was no us and them there was only we.
In churches, it often feels like theres the leadership us and the rest of the church them. What would it look like to break down those walls so that its all one big us? I dream of a day when people speak of their church like Green Bay folks speak of their Packers. Come to think of it, we should do a better job than the Packers communicating that sense of us because the source of our glue, Jesus Christ, is stronger than football (hows that for a theological statement?).
Go Pack Go!
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