I don’t know yet if it’s the right way, but my Milwaukee Brewers are in the rebuilding process. If you’re not a sports fan, stick with me for a moment as I make an analogy that might be helpful in your own life. When it became blatantly evident after a quarter of last year’s season that the Milwaukee Brewers weren’t going to be anything near contenders, their General Manager started a massive rebuilding project. He fired the manager and brought in a new one. He started making trades one by one. And then even he stepped into retirement and the team hired a new General Manager.
Since then, the new general manager, David Stearns, has made no less than nine trades. Almost all of them have sent experienced players to other teams in return for young, well-regarded prospects. The Brewers hope that these young prospects will soon make it to the major leagues and have such an impact that the team will become a contender once again.
I began to think about how that is being mirrored in an interesting way at the church I serve as pastor. You could say we’re in a rebuilding process of sorts. Last year our attendance took a significant downturn as:
- we had numerous funerals of noteworthy, “pillar” type people in the congregation;
- a number of students went away to college;
- attendance patterns of some members, while regular, was not consistent;
- a few families moved away;
- some high school students’ attendance became pretty spotty.
Now it’s time to do some rebuilding, and we hope we’re doing it the right way. We have engaged in some things that feel like a baseball team in them midst of a rebuilding effort:
- We are encouraging our members to turn their gaze outside of our congregation and its own needs to the eternal needs of others;
- We are asking people to stand on the shoulders and fill the shoes of those “pillars” who have gone before (kind of like trading veterans for prospects);
- We are reenergizing our base by creating teams that bring joy and community through fun, service, and study;
- We are highlighting the things that are going well;
- We are communicating all of the above through media and social channels, both online and offline;
There are times in every life when there is a need to rebuild. It might be after a failed relationship, or a family move, or the loss of a job. Here’s what we can learn from baseball teams and churches that are going through rebuilding right now:
- Focus on the things you can control. Baseball teams can’t control the exact number of wins they’ll have each year, and churches can’t control the number of people in the pews each week. But they can control the people they put on the field and the people they place into leadership positions. When you are rebuilding, make sure you are doing it surrounded by people who have your best interest in mind and people who can help when help is really needed.
- Focus on the positive. Though the Milwaukee Brewers will not win as many games as they’d like this year, they have an opportunity to learn about the players they have acquired, and move pieces around as needed. In the church there is always the positive focus of the Gospel. In your life, negativity will set you back, but positivity will be the fuel that moves you forward.
- Focus on good communication. The Milwaukee Brewers have communicated to their fans that they are in the middle of a rebuilding process and that there may not be as many wins as fans would like. Our church is communicating ways to help people see opportunities to show and share their faith. Communication will help you make networking connections and emotional connections that will help you when you’re tempted to feel down or are in need of specific advice.
Rebuilding is not a bad thing. In most instances it is a good thing. It provides opportunities to learn, to grow, and to be stretched. Embrace rebuilding opportunities, and help others when you see them going through their own rebuilding.
What advice would you give to someone who’s in the process of rebuilding?