“I just want to exercise with my friends”: CrossFit and the Church

I used to be an athlete. I ran cross country in high school and eventually ran 2 years at Carl Sandburg College and 2 Years at North Park University. You’d think that 8 years of competitive running would make me…competitive…but the fact is I was never very good at running. In fact, I finished last or nearly last in almost every race I ran in College–so much so that the golf cart would trail me and pick the flags up on the course as I passed them. Truth be told, I really wasn’t very competitive in any running events and I spent my time learning how to be content-itive with my role on the team, and being with my friends and being their biggest fan.

I think there are time where we get our roles confused, as if we get so caught up in being competitive–being number one on the whiteboard or besting our PR lifts–that we forget that being competitive isn’t the only thing CrossFit is about. Sometimes, CrossFit is just about exercising with our friends.

One of the owners of CrossFit WigWag, when the workouts programmed are really tough, will jokingly say “I’m just here to exercise with my friends” and the more I think about it, the more I feel that this is exactly how I feel about working out. If it wasn’t for my box, I wouldn’t have met 90% of my friends. I wouldn’t have met the realtor who sold me my home (shout out to Dena) or the amazing chefs/restaurant/brewery owners who bless me with meals (infrequent as they are…hint hint….just kidding). If my box was any less friendly, any less welcoming, any less supportive, there’s no way I would continue to go back. There’s no way I would have spent $1,000 to take a certificate class to spend 4 hours each week coaching. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: I still can get competitive. Just the other day one of my friends at the box and I got into a 3rep clean and jerk lift-off. I lost, but it was big fun. What I am saying is: being competitive should not get in the way of the relationships we make in the box.

The church is similar. Our churches can get pretty competitive. We have do do a bigger Vacation Bible School than the other church. The church down the road has more people attending and a bigger youth ministry, how can we get more people than them? I think these are common pitfalls in the church, and to be honest, these are the kind of competitions that really turn me off for ministry. I want our churches to be content-itive–striving to serve our community more because of the love we have for Christ, not because the other churches are doing something better or have more people.

The Gospel doesn’t need dressed up. Laser smoke shows and fancy gimmicks can get people in the door, but the question we have to ask is what kind of formation for their faith development is offered after that? Jesus says in Matthew 22 that the greatest commandment is loving God first, and the second commandment is loving others. The entire cannon of the Old Testament gets summed up in loving God and loving others. So when we become competitive with the other churches, are we loving God and loving others? Or are we wanting better programming because better programming means more people, and more people mean more social clout among colleagues or tithes and offerings? We need to learn to be content-itive with the Gospel: love God, love others. Jesus says the entire Law can be summed up in this way, and therefore we should be content with loving God and loving others, rather than being competitive with the Gospel.

What are some ways that you can be less competitive as a church and more content-itive?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s