We had the opportunity on Monday night to see the Tampa Bay Rays battle their deep rivals, and until this year, thorn in their side (of course most every team was a thorn in their side), the Boston Red Sox. With a chance to really do some damage, the Rays gave up 11 runs in five innings before Amy, Connar, myself, and my in-laws called it a night. 11-1 just doesn’t make for good baseball. Although Connar didn’t mind, since he slept through most of the the drubbing.
Different teams fans have different reputations. Lately USF fans have been getting a bad rap, and deservedly so according to several reported instances and some of my “insiders.” Eagles’ fans have a tendency to get a little bit too rowdy, as evidenced by their (I don’t know if they have one at the new stadium) having an actual judge and court within the stadium. There probably is some objective difference in the levels of “annoying-ness” or “obnoxiousity,” though I haven’t developed anything to measure that. Yet.
But it is true that many fans of sports teams do much that goes against what that organization or school stands for. And yet when an outsider looks at that fan, he lumps the fan in with the team. And he/she will hate that team, simply because they don’t like the fan.
In reality, with some exceptions, I think I would probably like some of the Red Sox players. They are probably nothing like their fans.
I think the same thing goes with the church. People have had bad experiences with people in the church, and so they want nothing to do with it. But people can be swayed to pull for other teams, even those they didn’t grow up pulling for, provided their fans are winsome. I found myself pulling for the University of South Carolina because of a winsome South Carolina fan. I would NEVER have done that while living in South Carolina because of their fans. Never. But it only took one “contagious” fan to point me to them.
The same thing goes for the church. If people begin to have good experiences with those in the church, they’ll often give it another chance. If people begin to see good neighbors, those who are hospitable, those who are not arrogant, those who repent, those who are real, I think we’d be surprised that folks who were once Anti-church, might even be open to visit, or at least dialog. God uses such “good fans” to build His Church. “Annoying” fans have only one way to build the church: make babies. Certainly a way, but it can’t be the only way we seek to do it.