I am a big sports fan.  No, I don’t mean that I really love sports.  I’m saying that I am a rotund fellow that enjoys sporting events. 

I always have, in fact.  When I was a little boy, I remember staying up late with my dad to watch basketball and baseball playoff games.  Those were great times.  The irony, however, is that it is more difficult for me to stay awake and watch them now than it was then.

The thing that has always bothered me about watching sports on television is that I could see the obvious mistakes made by the officials (referees, umpires, or whatever they call them in soccer (seriously, they call the field a pitch…I don’t get it)).  (Note:  That was my first parenthetical statement inside of a parenthetical statement...and it felt good.)   

Anyway, it frustrated me that the officials for the games often missed calls that I could see very clearly in my slow-motion zoomed-in replays on my television.  So why didn’t they just find a TV and make sure they got the call right? 

It wasn’t until I was in college that instant replay started being used to clarify close calls in sporting events.  A large argument against using replay was that it would eliminate the “human element” of the game.  For many, the judgment, no matter how erroneous it may be, is part of the game.  So any attempt to correct their mistakes is actually changing the games that we all know and love. 

I could not disagree more.  The more accurate the officiating would be, the more fair the games would be to each team and we would be more likely to see the team that actually plays better win the game.  In my opinion, the human element often ruins the game due to the lack of consistency and infallibility. 

The instant replay scenario is quite the opposite of what we are doing with ministry.  It seems like, the more we try to do and the more we plan it out, we are readily eliminating the human element of our ministry.  Sometimes we are meeting basic needs, other times we are entertaining, and every now and then we may even take the time to pray for and/or with someone. 

However, we tend to focus more on the details of the operation and less on those we are serving.    We put more emphasis on efficiency than relationships.  Many times, it seems that the majority of our ministry is focused on quantity than quality.  It’s more about accomplishing tasks and less about showing love.

I realize the merit in reaching out to 500 people instead of 50.  My point is that, when we ignore the human element of ministry, we make it more difficult for those we serve to see the real Jesus in our work.  When we fail to build relationships, we end up building barriers that make it hard for us to really love on people.

In your next ministry event, try to put a little more emphasis on the human element.  Build relationships, show love, and share your story.  That is always the right call.

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