Our daughter and son-in-law began encouraging us to attend with them several months ago. They had been going for awhile and were experiencing a real difference in their lives; we saw it, too. But it is really different from what we are used to (not our kind of music!), so it took gentle persuasion from them for several months before finally convincing my wife to give it a try. A week later, at her encouragement, I showed up, too.
It did not take but a trip or two for both of us, as well as a friend she invited, to get really excited about what is going on there. It is so much what a church should be. When we walked through the door as strangers, virtually everyone there introduced themselves, welcomed us, and told us that being there would change our lives. The youngest we met was probably fourteen, the oldest mid-fifties. The two leaders pulled us aside for some one-on-one time, getting to know us, our strengths, areas where we struggle.
In the weeks since, there are so many things that impress. The acceptance of everyone, no matter where they are in their journey. The expectation (demand?) of growth. Accountability. The constant encouragement, everyone really interested in each other’s progress. True rejoicing when goals are reached, and gentle reproach when bad choices are made. A phone call or email after a missed session or two.
Real Community. Actually, life-changing community.
My kind of church. But as many of you have guessed by now, it is not a church. It’s a CrossFit training facility; a fitness center.
Now, I am very aware that church is so much more than a social or physical fitness organization. It is a community of believers, whose faith in Jesus Christ has transformed the lives of both the members individually, and the community collectively. So, let’s not confuse that issue here.
The point is, however, that we in church could learn a lot from this collection of really diverse individuals. Everything from the welcome when you walk in the door … to genuine concern for where you are in your journey … to compassion … to accountability.
I am not suggesting that church should be a fitness center.
Or maybe I am. A place where there is expectation of growth, of change, of spiritual health.