As I sat in church one Sunday this past summer, I realized attendance was down on a beautiful summer day and my thoughts were tracking with some observations I’ve had about the basketball world. We are technically in the off-season, but these days there really is no such thing. As the NBA Finals wound down, we were bombarded with news of the draft and free agent signings, and tuned in to watch triple-headers of NBA summer league games – yes, summer league games. And now we’ve analyzing the blockbuster trade between the Cav’s and the Celtics. But it’s not just NBA basketball, as our normal family decision to attend church together was impacted by summer tournaments for both our high school son and our older, now coaching son. Both of them realize this is a chance to improve and I’m all in favor of it, to a certain degree, so we made some accommodations, but I don’t want it to be a habit for me or for my family. And yet, church attendance is frequently down during the summer months for a variety of reasons, as if churchgoers are in an off-season, but should they be?
BASKETBALL – Off-Season?
As much as I think taking a break is important, I want to use the off-season to better myself as a coach. I watch film, read books, and explore an endless variety of ways to tweak our offensive approach to best utilize the players we will have for the coming season. If I want to do my part and help our team, there is no off-season. I carve out regular time each week to review notes and find ways to improve, and I will do so as long as I’m coaching. What about you? What does the off-season mean to you? I’m happy to say that for our team this season, the off-season included working on individual skills. We had a larger group than usual living around campus and we had frequent visitors to our gym to use a new shooting machine and play pick-up, as well as some true improvements in the weight room. I have no doubt it will pay off!
Writing articles for this site during the summer has not always been easy as my focus shifts to college baseball in the summer, but in looking back, here are a few posts from the archives that may interest and impact your thinking as you consider your off-season:
These days, there really is no off-season. in fact, our guys are already back at school and are a week into open gym play and pre-season conditioning! Basketball is year-round and if you are passionate about the game, change your mindset about “OFF-seasons.”
LIFE – Priorities
I’m just going to throw this out there for your consideration – do you take an off-season in the critical areas of your life? Most of us don’t. When something is important to us we tend to maintain our focus – marriages, parenting, careers, financial portfolios, etc. Those things are important, so we never take an off-season, right? Although at times we may rationalize a bit in thinking we deserve a break, most of us spend our time devoted to those things that are most important to us. Yet many times we drift away from what’s most important and before you know it, time has passed and we’ve dug ourselves a hole.
FAITH – No Off-Season
So why do we often take a break in our faith lives? Why do we think we should ever take a break from God? First of all, we can’t. God is always with us. God is always there. God never takes an off-season, saying “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And even when we try to take a break, thinking we can run, or hide, or avoid, God is always with us. Why would any of us think it’s a good idea to take an off-season? Can you imagine God ever taking a break with us? If He only loved me or valued me in a measured response to how I worship, or spend time in prayer, or in showing love to other people, He would not be the one true God.
I see families put their church-life on hold for the summer. I see young people step away from their faith when they hit college and tell themselves that they’ll focus on their faith when they have life and their future figured out. I see successful business owners who say one thing on Sunday, but act completely different when it comes to handling their customers. One aspect of our relationship with God is corporate worship – gathering with other believers to worship, pray and, together hear God’s word. Why would we think we can capture that online, in a podcast, or watching television? Those media all serve a purpose and can be extremely helpful, but they do not replace the “gathering” of believers, as stated:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
I realize some who read this may see this as an indictment when you miss church or quite possibly, it you fail to attend regularly – but my greater point is about the nature of God. God doesn’t need my worship. He wants it and He wants me to be in a daily walk with Him because spiritually, there is no off-season. And honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.