Fantasy For Reality

Let me first start by saying that I love football. I played in High School and College for seven years. I coached football for 4 years, and I have been a lifelong fan of this glorious game. I love FSU and anyone that plays UF or Alabama. (and no I don’t root for UF when they play Alabama.) There is nothing better than seeing Lee Corso dawn the headgear at high noon on Saturday, and then seeing the kickoff in a jam-packed stadium while I sit on my couch with a plate full of chicken wings and Doritos. (I apologize to all the ladies and men who can’t relate. This would be comparative to black Friday shopping or a BOGO sale at your favorite shoe store.) I even enjoy playing fantasy football. I’m not any good, but I enjoy pretending to be the coach and general manager of my make-believe team and the competition and bragging rights that go along with winning your matchup.

All throughout the season, I’ll check in with my fantasy team, find out how they are doing, check the injury reports, search the waiver wire, and listen to experts speculate on who the most productive players will be this Sunday. I won’t spend a ton of time this fall on my fantasy team but with all my football activities, I will spend at least 3 total days (72 hours) watching, talking, predicting, and trash talking about football. I’m sure my wife might like to debate the 72-hour thing, but this number isn’t all that important. It simply represents the minimum amount of time I and many other men will spend over the next 5 months doing football related things.

This important investment in time and football got me to thinking about what other significant contributions I could make this fall with 72 hours. I suppose there are many different activities I could get involved in, but what activity would make the most significant impact in my own life, community, church, and eternity. It’s quite simple. It’s just three words-Sharing The Gospel. I know you might be tempted to stop reading right here, but please, keep reading.

You might not have any idea the eternal impact you could make in 72 hours, but it would be staggering. Think about the fact that if all your efforts just ended up in seeing one person come to Christ, in the words of John Madden, “BOOM!!!” Totally worth it! Now imagine every man in your “football talking group” or fantasy league at church dedicated at least 72 hours this season to watching, looking, and studying the roster of your neighborhood, church guest list, or place of employment for the next free-agent acquisition for eternity. What would that total, 5-10-15 people being saved? How would that impact your life, your church, and eternity?

Let’s take it one more step. What if every football-focused man in every gospel preaching church in the U.S. invested 72 hours to “recruiting” people for Jesus? One word for this would be-REVIVAL. Jesus’ twelve apostles did this and according to the Bible, they turned the world upside down. I know they invested a little more than 72 hours, but they had to start somewhere and so do we.

I am always challenging every person in our church to be a part of our gospel outreach this year. Our goal is to collectively share the gospel with 100 adults this year. I believe that if we would share the gospel 100 times every twelve months, we will see 30-60 people accept Christ as their Savior (this would be the statistical average I have seen here in St. Louis). This would be more than enough people to keep a church of our size busy for the entire year.

Maybe you should consider forming a REALITY LEAGUE at your church. A group of 10-14 men that love everything football but would also be willing to invest 72 hours or more this season in reaching people with the gospel of Jesus. This would change your church and if enough churches got involved in the work of the Great Commission, it would change the world. It might even turn the world upside down. This is nothing new or fancy, just fresh encouragement to live in the REALITY of eternity and not the FANTASY of this life. If you need help getting started, please check out unashameduniversity.com. I have been working on an online video course called “witnessing 101” to help individuals and churches more effectively communicate the gospel. It could be used as an individual study or even in a Sunday school or small group setting.

Here are a few other tips to help you get the REALITY win this season.

  1. Listen to the Coach. The Holy Spirit will speak to your heart regularly and point out people that he wants you to invite to church and evangelize. Don’t ignore him. Do exactly what he tells you to do.
  2. Draft every interested person. Yes, contrary to popular belief, people are interested in spiritual things. I find these people in two ways. First, Follow-up with church guests. At our church, we will get half way to 100 if we will just look for an opportunity to share Jesus with each guest who visits City Light. These are the best prospects because they actually visited your church. Secondly, look for people who are looking for church. When you hear someone say, “I’ve been looking for a church,” this is your signal to put them in your draft queue. It could be that they are already saved, but many times they are searching for something and all they know is to look for a church. If they aren’t saved, your investment in their life and diligence to share your faith could help them find what they are looking for.
  3. Keep a current list of top prospects and free agents.* I’m not suggesting you look at other churches and see if you can swipe their best soloist or youth leader. You are looking for unsaved/unchurched people. Just get out a piece of paper and write down the name and contact info of people you gave a tract to this week, the lady at your work that asked you those questions about God, and the barista that hands you your coffee every morning. Next, look for a way to invest in their life regularly.
  4. Invest in your prospects. Don’t get the idea that if they don’t come after one invite or don’t get saved after you told them you are a Christian that it is all over. It’s just getting started. There have been a number of people I have led to Christ after 5, 10, or 20 conversations. Just invest in the people on your list. How? Love, give, serve, be nice, be thoughtful. Ultimately, just love them like Jesus would. This gives time for their heart to soften, for the Holy Spirit to work, and for you to build bridges to carry the gospel across.
  5. Don’t forget to communicate with the owner. You are going to need to pray for your prospects and for opportunities to have serious conversations with them about eternity. There is a spiritual battle going on for their souls. You need God’s help and direction in order to succeed in this endeavor.
  6. Schedule some time to recruit.* What gets scheduled gets done, so schedule to be a part of your church’s outreach efforts. Invite your neighbors or coworkers to dinner and pray for the right opportunity to help them consider God’s free gift of salvation. Get involved and see God use your life to make a difference in other people’s eternity.
  7. Find an assistant to help you get the job done. This might be the most important key for success. You will need the accountability and encouragement to go and to keep going, so find someone that will help you succeed and do it together.

Maybe you already have a plan for evangelism this season, fantastic! Keep up the good work. Please let me know how you and/or your church reach out to your community. I’m always looking to grow in this area.

If you don’t have a plan, I hope this article and the online video course “witnessing 101” will help you to get going and succeed in the REAL world this season. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

Enjoy this football season. I hope your team beats everybody except FSU, and I pray that the University of Florida loses every other game they play. Don’t forget to keep your head in the game. The REAL not the FANTASY one.

Disclaimers:

*I know that I used some football lingo like “recruit” and “free-agent” that might make people seem like a commodity, but that is just to continue the football theme of the article. Every person on this planet is an important individual who is cared for and loved by God and should be cared for and loved by us as well.

**If you don’t like football, I give you permission to share the gospel. =)

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