I am writing this as March Madness—better known as the NCAA Division 1 College Men’s Basketball Tournament gets underway. Although as an Atlantic Coast Conference fan I expected the first day of the basketball season both Duke University and the University of North Carolina would be in the tournament, that did not mean they failed to engage in readiness to be in the tournament.
At least for Duke it was an up and down season. Even their legendary coach—Mike Krzyzewski—was out of commission for four weeks with back surgery, and various other injuries and even bad behavior by a player or two threatened that they would miss the tournament, it was still a reliable prediction that they would be in tournament.
With all their challenges, by the end of the season they were playing at their very best. It took more than 30 games for them to get ready for the tournament. They could not just short hoops around Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC for six months and get ready for the tournament. They had to practice hard, play hard, and anticipate the next game as soon as a game ended.
Congregations are too often not like that. They want to play around being a congregation, doing whatever comes naturally to them, and then at a certain point when the pain is too great declare they need help, a silver bullet, a newly drafted pastor, or some other magic to transform. They want to do this without a highly-disciplined season of readiness.