Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sitting on the bench

The last two weeks I have been playing basketball at the Black Forest Academy. This past week we had two games. I played in the first one against the JV team and I must say I was a scoring machine. I had my touch back. Remember, I am a legend in my own mind when it comes to basketball. But I will still try to take most people on. The second game was against the varsity. Our team expanded to about 16 players. If you know much about basketball it is a game where only 5 can play at a time for a team. I was not in the top five for the varsity game. In fact I was not in the top ten. As I sat there and watched I realized how much I detest sitting on the bench. I did not like it when I actually played competitively and I do not like it now. There is something about if you have your uniform on you need to be playing. Not many people come to see someone sitting on the bench unless it is your mom or girlfriend. Not many headlines are about people who sit on the bench. Stars play in the game.

Using the same metaphor but switching the context I go to a conversation that I had with a well known writer and church planter in Europe who is an European. He posed a question to a few of us at a meeting a few weeks ago. He asked the question: Is it time for North American missionaries to sit on the sidelines for a while? and if it is what can you learn that will help you in the future?

He asked if we were comfortable with that? Umm… (this is me thinking)

This was hard to grasp for I have a hard time making that mesh with the Great Commission since it tells us to GO. Do we just tell God that we need to take a break and sit on the bench a while? “We will get back to the Great Commission in a few years”. While I know we cannot take a break from being a part of the Great Commission should we as North Americans re-evaluate our role as missionaries overseas? I am not ready to buy my ticket, pack up the house and come back to the states but there may be some lessons that we can learn.

Are there some things we should stop doing?

Are there some things we should start doing?

What about some things that we should do differently?

So while I am not prescribing solutions to this I do want to pose the question – what would you learn if you sat on the bench for a while?

1 comment:

Mark said...

Interesting. I think that "sitting on the sidelines" can be a good metaphor for thinking through our purpose as you have already discussed.

Perhaps, as well, your european friend is talking more about how we shouldn't have this perception that we're needed...that makes us humble and willing to plug into nationally focused work, huh? I think that may be a good thing as it would force us to be more intentioanl about partnering with nationals as if our place in the game depended on it!