The recent kabuki dance between the Broncos, Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow was interesting to watch. Ultimately, the Broncos decided that a 36-year-old Peyton Manning put them in a better position to win than the younger Tebow did.
In professional sports, there are two competing needs: to win and to develop talent. If you can do both at the same time, all the better. If not, a team must decide which they will give up in order to pursue the other. In other words, they may decide to into a rebuilding phase, recognizing that it may mean fewer wins for a season with the hope of more wins in the future.
What about in the kingdom of God?
First, we must define what a “win” looks like. In my mind, a kingdom win is when an increasing number of people are finding a relationship with Jesus.
If that is what a win looks like, we must be playing to win at all times. Football is a game; eternity is forever. Yet, football teams will study hours of film and practice to the point of exertion — just to win a game. Shame on us in the church when we accept less than the best effort.
Dwight Moody, the famous evangelist of years past, spoke in Chicago on October 8, 1871. He asked his audience to evaluate their relationship with Jesus and to return the following week ready to make a decision about following him. That audience never regrouped. That same night, October 8, 1871, the city of Chicago went up in flames — literally. That experience changed Moody. From that point forward, he vowed to never put off asking people to make a decision about Jesus.
Moody chose to play to win.
What about your church? Will you decide to play to win?