News Flash! America is NOT a Christian country any longer! I hope that did not take any of you by surprise. And also I hope that it does not take you again by surprise in saying that non-Christian America was around way before Barack Obama became president. I, for one, am happy to admit that America not being a Christian country is a good thing. If I could just speak to America’s evangelicals all at once, there would be one thing that I would say to them, “Suck it up, pick up the pieces, and reevaluate how to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to a world, that for the most part, despises that very kingdom.” So the question becomes, “what does that reevaluation look like?” One word answer. Underdog.
I cannot stand how so many of these evangelical churches are trying to “get back to how the earliest Christians did things” when they do not realize that the earliest Christians embraced something that most present evangelicals fight against with every muscle in their body. These earliest Christians knew that they were the minority and embraced it. And because of this, Christianity exploded. These early Christians knew that they were the underdog… and do you know what everyone loves? an underdog.
For three years as a pastor of a small United Methodist congregation, I fought to make us the underdog. And I found out then that for the rest of my life I will continue to fight to make the church I am serving the underdog. Why? Because being an underdog makes you popular. And if you are an underdog for Jesus, it makes Jesus popular. And that is what it is all about. Following are 4 ways that being an underdog allows the Holy Spirit to move in ways that it did in the first century.
1. IF YOUR CHURCH IS AN UNDERDOG, your church will recruit volunteers like never before. An underdog team knows that it is going to take effort from every single person to succeed, and even the better players lose the I mentality for the we mentality. A team that is on top will just rely on the “best” players and leave the game in their hands. In a church that is an underdog, the person that only shows up on Christmas and Easter will know that they are not only wanted, but also needed in profound ways. People will work together like never before, and you will actually see a church become a community.
2. IF YOUR CHURCH IS AN UNDERDOG, your church’s morale does not drop after a loss. A team that is playing a better team can hold their heads up after a loss. If there is a vision that is not reached, an underdog is reminded of its humanity and knows that there is always improvement to be made. So after that goal in the church is not reached, you do not give up, you simply say we will get it next time, and you fight harder.
3. IF YOUR CHURCH IS AN UNDERDOG, you celebrate victories with all out abandon. When the team that is supposed to lose actually wins, people like Rudy get carried off the field. When a church accomplishes something that, in the eyes of many, it is not supposed to accomplish, a person by the name of Jesus is carried off the field with shouting, crying, and praising, knowing that without Him none of it would be possible. This brings to mind the thing about Jesus being strong when we are weak, right? Also when you celebrate with all out abandon, guess what happens, people celebrate with you. I think this might relate to something Johnny Wesley said, “If you catch on fire with enthusiasm, people will come for miles to watch you burn.” Celebrate like naked King David and watch what happens. (Note: don’t actually go naked).
4. IF YOUR CHURCH IS AN UNDERDOG, they will rely completely on God. This is the best reason to be an underdog church. An underdog knows that it should lose. An underdog knows that in order to win, something like a miracle has to happen. An underdog church knows that God has to do something, or else, nothing will happen. And if I know anything about God, it is that he loves when people fully rely on him to accomplish things that they themselves could not accomplish, and he blesses it.
If you want to be part of a movement that will reclaim the hearts of Americans that have long been lost, become an underdog. And once that happens, stay an underdog. The worst thing that could possibly happen to the church is for it to become a bandwagon team. We have seen this happen several times in the church’s history, all ending with epic failure and huge losses for the kingdom. When you are on top, there is no where to go but down. Lets humble ourselves, and fight all out, relying on Christ in everything.