Monday, June 18, 2007

The Genius of the Armchair Quarterback in the Local Church

One thing that keeps people from involvement in the local church is how ridiculous and incompetent the current membership of said church is. This type of attitude can be observed on any given Sunday or Monday in your typical armchair quarterback. You probably will not have to overwork your imagination to follow along with my analogy.

I am imagining a guy decked out in team colors, planted in a Lazy Boy recliner. This guy pretends to love his team. After all, he never misses a single down, he knows every player by number, where they played high school ball, how tall they are, and how fast they can run the 40. In fact, this guy knows every championship game, every coach, and every great player that has ever come through the program. Indeed, you are a fan of the same team, but this guy knows way more than you do about your favorite team.

The problem is that you hate to watch games with him. Every play is relentlessly critiqued, and according to this guy, the coach is a blooming idiot. It is no shock to you that this guy believes the coach to be an idiot because that has been his assessment of the past five coaches of the team. Every bad play is greeted with howls of disgust and every good play is met with the ever so encouraging, "It's about time you guys did something right!" This guy knows more than the coach, he knows better than the players, and he fancies himself as the glorious keeper of the winning tradition. "Being the glorious keeper of the winning tradition" means that he properly venerates the greats that have gone before...nevermind that while they were actually there they were often and always the subjects of his tirades.

The irony of all of this is that this guy is 50 lbs. overweight, never played a down of football for any team ever, and has never ever coached anything in his life. This guy can't teach his own dog to sit and come, much less lead men to victory on the grid iron. In short, the man's a blathering fool who esteems himself wise in every aspect of the game. In reality, it is because of guys like him that the program struggles because nothing, not even victory, really satisfies them. Secretly, you wish that somehow, someday he might find himself with pigskin in hand being rushed by a 275 pound linebacker who can do the forty in 4.5.

This description of "armchair quarterback" fits the average church member quite well. They relentlessly critique, but they have never taught a class or led a Bible Study in their life. If they ever tried, it probably died in two weeks because no one could stand it. This type of church member is altogether useless. They cannot be a player because they are too arrogant to follow; they cannot lead because they aren't as awesome as they think they are. The only people with whom they can find an audience are others just like them, and all of their combined griping only succeeds in deflating the very church that they claim to love.

The point of this analogy is that you, dear reader, do not have the luxury of being a "fan" of the local church. You are on the team. You cannot distance yourself from the action. If your church is doing lousy, then you are doing lousy. Your identity is bound up with them, and you don't get to go "free agent" just because they aren't singing your songs and executing your plays. Church is not a spectator sport, even if they do market it that way now days.

My advice and the point of this Monday morning semi-rant is to stay away from this kind of fan. Their rotten attitude is both contagious and discouraging. Also, I advise you to avoid the type of critique that is not constructive and devoid of humility. If you don't, we may let you teach next Sunday.


Lisa writes... said...

Rant on! And do I see two posts on consecutive days?! :-)

Not too long ago we were commiserating with another couple in our church, and the guy mentions some common friends and described their frustration as feeling "much the same as we do," and I disagreed, claiming it couldn't possibly be the same type of frustration as they have little or nothing invested in the life of the church. I'm not saying only those who have poured their heart and ministry into the church have the right to criticize her...or maybe I am?

Wise analogy, Brad.

Sojourner said...

Two in a row, can you believe it? I even added a picture to the second post. I could be coming out of a slump.

Even So... said...

I vicariously participated in that rant...

Anonymous said...

Amen and amen on the armchair quarterback.


Keith said...

I would have never guessed you grew up in Alabama with that analogy. :)