It's the Friday before kickoff week.
Sunday morning kickoff service. Small group leaders kickoff training on Sunday night. Young adults kickoff event on Monday night. Middle school and high school ministry kickoff events on Friday night. All of our church's other programs are gearing up and running towards the proverbial ball.
I don't know why we use a football term to describe the launch of our ministry year. (In Canada, it feels like a hockey analogy would be better.) But right now, kickoff feels appropriate.
In a football game, when the special teams have lined up for kickoff, everyone waits in anticipation. The game hasn't begun yet. The outcomes are unclear. Both sides are expectant, eager, nervous, hopeful.
Then the kicker begins a slow stride towards the ball. He picks up speed, increasing his pace, until at the final moment he steps forward, whipping his kicking leg in a sweeping arc through the oblong brown egg planted before him, sending it flying hundreds of feet through the air into the waiting arms of the receiving team.
At the start of every new ministry season--particularly in the fall--that same feeling of expectancy, nervousness, and hope pervades my mind and heart. It's the calm before kickoff, the deepest moment of anticipation. What will happen? Where is God at work? Will our plans and programs work? Will people come to know Jesus this year? How will we know if we're going the right direction?
Yet I do know a few things that transcend the football analogy:
- I know that the kingdom of God is here and quietly advancing like yeast in a lump of dough.
- I know the good news of Jesus is worth sharing in words and actions.
- I know Jesus is never surprised or overwhelmed by unexpected circumstances or difficulties.
- I know the future is absolutely secure in God's hands.
- I know the outcome; I know who wins in this game, and I know His church will celebrate at the banquet table in heaven.
Whatever happens this ministry year, Jesus is going to transform people's hearts and offer healing, hope, and new life.