We’ll I’m just about back into a consistent “blogging” saddle again as we’re finishing up our transition from the church plant back in CA to a work in the Houston area.  We’ve landed with an exciting bunch of folks in Cypress, Texas where there are some real needs and huge opportunities for Kingdom advancement.  This past Monday night we had a group of leaders over at our house to watch the movie Miracle on Ice.  The flick was based on the true story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team defeating the Soviet Union and winning the gold medal.  Personally it was fun to watch as I remember being glued to the tube when it happened in real life 30 years ago.  But we didn’t watch it to reminisce, but to learn some church leadership lessons.  We came up with at least these five principles.  Enjoy and feel free to add anything. 

1. Change:  In the opening scenes of the movie, the head coach made it clear that if the US team was going to compete with the Eastern Bloc countries, they were going to have to change everything they did from extended practice schedules to strategy.  I know that change is hard, but for the churches in the West, we have to be willing to kill some of our sacred cows if we’re truly going to be effective in reaching out.

2. Expectation: While most of the officials on the US Hockey committee were primarily concerned with merely doing well enough to “not be embarrassed”, the head coach was expecting to go all the way and even take on the Soviets.  He planned to win.  He reminds me of David who expected to take the giant Goliath down while the rest of the Israelite army stood shaking in their boots.  David trusted not so much in his ability, but God’s ability working through him.  As Kingdom citizens and Christ followers, that same power is available for our lives today.  Thus we must expect to advance.

3.  Hard Work:  We can never take the glory or credit for Kingdom advances and successes.  But the KING does expect us to work hard.  Note the parable of the talents where two were rewarded for their efforts but the third was kicked out and even called a “wicked and lazy” servant for doing nothing.  One of the reasons why the US team won in 1980 was because they were totally fit.  The theme of the coach was, “the legs feed the wolf.”  The point being that when they were at their utmost fitness they would be able to keep the same level of intense play even into the final seconds of the game.  For us, we need to remember that the Christian walk and church leadership is not just some hobby, but a way of life. 

4.  Team:  We see this in many sports, but it was really clear in this movie.  The success came when everyone got the picture that it was not about them as individuals, but them as a team.  Not who they were or where they came from as individuals, but who they were as the US TEAM.  I liked what one of our leaders said at our meeting the other night, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team”

5.  Taking the Offensive:  No, this does not mean that we’re rude and offensive, but the opposite of hanging back in a fortress or defensive position.  This is similar to the expectation of winning.  The coach constantly put the agenda forward that they were going to attack the other team’s goal and not just defend their own.  It kind of reminds me of when Jesus said that the “gates of Hell would not prevail against His Kingdom.  The implication being that someone or something was advancing against those gates.  That someone is God’s mighty power in us.  Yes, the battle is fierce, but we can’t hunker down and take care of our own needs.  We’re called to make disciples and push forward.  We’re called to advance with the message that God really does love the world around us.