High Intensity: CrossFit and the Church

Constantly varied, functional movements, done at a high intensity. We’ve reached the last portion of this blog series connecting the themes of faith in Christ and fitness in CrossFit. The connection between CrossFit and the Church is closer than we expect, and I hope that you can see the lines a bit clearer now. While the other three posts probably have a clear connection (or at least an ‘i can kind of see it’ connection), this one perhaps needs to be the most fleshed out.

Step into any CrossFit gym and you’ll get a workout that is either a task priority (the total work work you’d be doing is fixed, and the time it takes to complete that work is up to you) or a time priority (the time is fixed, and the amount of work you do in that time is up to you.) While these workout styles vary in terms of what they’re goal is (get the most reps or complete the workout), one thing they share is that both are done at a high intensity.

Intensity in Crossfit is defined as power. If you read the post on functional movements (link above), you’ll remember we said functional movements at their core are how we are able to move heavy loads (force), over long distances (distance), quickly (time). Functional movements help us develop our power output. So our formula for functional movements is: Power=(Force*Distance)/Time OR Power=Work/Time. The faster the work is completed, the more intense the work. Within the CrossFit culture, power and intensity are identical. They are one and the same, and they are measurable. WE can track how much weight we put on a barbell, we can track how many reps we do (distance the barbell has moved vertically), we can redo workouts and compare the times that it took us to complete the same workout each time. For CrossFit athletes, our intensity is inherently measurable and able to be calculated. While it is neat to see what your horsepower was for the workout, intensity, while being equal to power, is relative to a persons physical and mental capabilities. It doesn’t matter how intense you try to deadlift 600lbs, unless you’re physically capable, that barbell is staying stuck to the floor. Unless you have the mental strength to grind through a long chipper of a workout, it doesn’t matter how intense you work…because it won’t happen. This is not to discredit anyones efforts, or to tell people to “try harder”, this is to say: intensity is measurable and relative to each individual person based on her or his physical and mental capabilities.

I think this translates well into the church. The church also has metrics available to it which can help measure it’s ‘intensity’. Perhaps if we were to create a formula to measure a church’s intensity it would be something like this:
Intensity= (Engagement*Attendance)/Targeted population. A Church’s intensity is the level of congregational or communal engagement in the functions or ministries of the church multiplied by the attendance or roster of the church divided by the population of the targeted community or town it finds itself in. These factors may be a bit broad so I want to develop them a little bit on their own before I bring it back to gether.

E is for engagement. A church cannot begin to define it’s intensity unless it has a measurable way to define who is participating in the life of the church. Engagement is intentionally vague and I’d leave it up to the church to define it. Engagement could be attendance in the Sunday School classes, it could be people who are praying for the children of the church; engagement could be giving our offerings or tithes. Engagement is the primary way for us to determine whether or not what we are doing is effective and if our people are responding to what we believe God is calling us to do through our ministries or outreach opportunities.

A is for attendance. The hard truth of ministry life is that if nobody shows up, the church will have to close her doors. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been around, what you did in the ‘good ole days’, or any of that mess because the truth is if our people don’t show up on Sunday mornings, our church closes. Now, before I get dragged: I know ‘the church is not a building’ etc. and I know there is more to ministry than just making sure the building is functional and operational. However, the fact remains that the church’s intensity is relative to the number of people in our ministries. Do we have a low attendance in children’s church? Then the intensity with which we promote, host events, make ourselves known in the community, needs to be pushed a bit. The attendance matters.

Tp is for targeted area population. The community the church finds herself in is ripe with people who want to know Jesus. But do they know who you are? The intensity of the church needs to be divided by the targeted area’s population because these are the people we’re trying to reach. To me this makes sense.

So… Intensity=E*A/Tp. The intensity with which the church does her ministry in the areas that she finds herself in is defined by it’s engagement in it’s current offerings (programmings, etc.) and the attendance of those offerings (programmings, etc.) in relation to the targeted area’s population. You’re not going to get good engagement in a Sk8r Small Group if you live in a relatively quiet, fairly conservative retirement community. The intensity of your outreach would be near 0. However, you put that same idea into an area ripe with younger sk8rs or Gen-Xers who love to Sk8 and I bet the intensity for outreach opportunities would be astronomical. But like with CrossFit, intensity is relative to each church.

What do you think? How would you define intensity in the church? How would you craft a formula to measure intensity in the church?

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