About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Pitching And Defense
(the winning culture of church) 


There's an old baseball adage that says pitching and defense win baseball games.  Well, I've followed MLB baseball since 1978 and pitching and defense may win a game or two but it takes more than that to be a successful baseball team over the length of a 162 game season. 


Earl Weaver, manager of the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 to 1982 and again in the 1985 1986 season insisted that it was the three run home run that wins baseball games.  Well, during Weaver's lengthy leadership of the Orioles his team only won the World Series once, and that was 1970.  Being a winning baseball team over a long season takes each player achieving to his full potential at whatever position he plays.  A team, therefore, is as successful as its least successful player. 


A successful baseball team requires good starting pitching, relief pitchers that can come into the game at a moment's notice, and a closer with nerves of steel.  Each defensive position must be manned by skilled athleticism.  The batting line-up has to be a balance between home run hitters, single and double hitters, fast runners, and good base stealers.  The catcher is the leader on the field.  He not only has to understand his pitcher's abilities and the next pitch to be thrown, he must be aware of base runners and all that is taking place on the field.  A lot of thought, expertise, and athleticism, goes into a winning baseball team.         


The Apostle Paul often used sporting analogies to make his point.  If he were around today he might use baseball or football to make a point.  Football would be a good analogy.  The ball is kicked to your team.  Someone on your team catches the ball and runs with it, twists his way through the defensive team, and within seconds is flattened to the ground, only to pick himself up and do it all over again.  Like a baseball team, a football team require each player performing at his position to his potential.


What applies to a baseball and football team applies to church.  A successful expression of the local community of Christ requires everyone knowing and functioning in his place of ministry.  Like sports teams, the Body of Christ is as effective as its most ineffective member.  This is what Paul seems to be saying in 1 Corinthians 12 when he encourages his readers to both know and function in their place of ministry in the local expression of church.  For Paul, church was not a matter of meetings.  It was a matter of ministry.        


In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul lists nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit and a number of ministries given to individuals for the health of the Body of Christ.  As there are many parts in our physical bodies, there are many and varying members in the church, each having his sphere of responsibility.   


Church is more than a matter of meetings.  Like a successful baseball team, a successful church requires each and every member both knowing and functioning in his ministry.  Is that our approach to church?  As in baseball terms, church is more than pitching and defense.  


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